CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--Chicago Board of Trade corn futures are expected to open higher Monday following overnight gains, as a slow harvest pace and weaker dollar underpin the market.

Corn is called 1 cent to 3 cents higher. In overnight trade, December corn was up 1 3/4 cents to $3.99 1/2 per bushel and March corn was up 1 1/4 cents to $4.10 1/2.

The extremely slow harvest pace is a focus of the market, as farmers were mostly unable to get any work done late last week and through the weekend. Forecasts call for more rain through the latter half of this week.

Traders and analysts are looking ahead to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's weekly crop progress report, which will be released at 4 p.m. EDT. Harvest progress in the prior week's report was only at 17%, well below the average, and analysts are expecting just modest improvement in Monday's report. Estimates range from 20% to 25% complete, compared to what Country Hedging said is an average of 58%.

Traders said a weaker dollar, largely responsible for recent strength in corn and other commodities, could continue to provide support Monday.

Despite the market's recent strength--the nearby contract climbed above $4 last week for the first time since June--a lot of traders and analysts say the market's fundamentals may not support prices this high. Some say the higher prices are bound to hurt demand, as evidenced by poor weekly export sales reported last week.

Shawn Hackett, president of Hackett Financial Advisors, noted in a Monday report that much of the concern about the weather has to do with harvest delays rather than yield losses.

"Mother Nature will likely break open a harvest window in the first half of November that will likely cause some major profit taking on those that are betting on wet weather to never ever stop," Hackett wrote.

Still, he said he is fundamentally bullish on corn and expects a yield below 160 bushels per acre, lower than many in the trade are expecting.

Technically, the market's retreat back below $4 Friday should have bulls concerned about a potential reversal, analysts said.

The next upside price objective is to push and close prices above solid technical resistance at $4.25 a bushel, a technical analyst said. The next downside price objective for the bears is to push and close prices below solid technical support at $3.68 1/2 a bushel.

First resistance for December corn is seen at $4.00 and then at $4.05. First support is seen at $3.93 1/4 and then at $3.90.

The managed-money category sliced into their CBOT corn short positions while adding long positions in the week ended Oct. 20, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said Friday.

The disaggregated commitments of traders report showed managed money cut 12,784 contracts from their short positions, leaving 29,787. The category added 7,977 contracts to their long positions, for a total of 218,845.

The nearby December contract climbed 2 3/4 cents during this time period.

In international news, South Korea Monday offered to ship about 10,000 metric tons of corn to North Korea, in what would be the first official aid to its hungry neighbor in almost two years.


-By Ian Berry, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-341-5778; ian.berry@dowjones.com