Early Call On Chicago

20/01/12 -- The overnight grains closed mixed with beans 3-5 cents weaker, and with corn and wheat trading a cent or two either side. Crude is down almost a dollar and a half sending it back below USD100/barrel.

Weekly export sales from the USDA came in at a net 584,200 MT, towards the upper end of trade estimates. Shipments of 357,900 MT however once again fell short of the level required to hit the USDA's 2011/12 target. They've only beat that target twice in the past 15 weeks.

Corn sales of 759,900 MT were in line with trade estimates of 500-850 TMT and included 132,200 MT for China. Soybean sales were 991,100 MT of which more than a third was China. Yesterday's reported Chinese business won't show up until next week.

Chinese New Year celebrations will keep them out of the market next week. Some of this week's widely reported sales were likely a result of that.

Widespread rains are expected in Argentina over the weekend and early part of next week, that may encourage a bit of profit-taking and/or spec selling heading into the weekend.

It was only a matter of time, but some reports are already talking of "excessive" rain hampering harvest progress in Brazil.

The IGC peg soybean production there at 71.8 MMT, and that in Argentina at 51 MMT which is interestingly a little higher than the USDA's scoffed at 50.5 MMT released last week.

Beans have been the biggest gainer on the week so far, up 38 3/4 cents as opposed to corn which is up 6 1/2 cents and wheat, up 3 1/2 cents. With a good chance of decent weekend rains in Argentina then I guess we can expect beans to lead the way lower this afternoon.

Informa are expected to release updated 2012 acreage forecasts mid session. They have a habit of being towards the high end with their estimates.

Europe has gone a bit quiet this past few days, as this millstone of a problem has had the habit of doing over the past year or so. As we all know by now though a sudden volcanic eruption is possible at any time with this festering volcano.

Greece, desperate for the next tranche of EU/ECB/IMF cash continues to hold a gun to it's creditors heads, saying it's 50% or nothing what do you want? As reported previously though it's actually 15% plus a probably worthless 35% time bomb of a bond to have ticking away on your balance sheet for Christ knows how long or nothing. Nothing is almost starting to look the more attractive of the two!

It is only a matter of time before this baby blows IMHO, with the fan splattering brown smelly stuff all around the globe. If and when that happens then it will be like Italian captains deserting their ship as the funds scramble to get out.

But, don't let that worry you, six dollar wheat and corn and twelve dollar beans are cheap as chips, everybody knows that so fill your boots son.

Early calls for this afternoon's session: beans down 3-5 cents, wheat and corn mixed.