CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--Chicago Board of Trade corn ended slightly higher Wednesday in a day characterized by consolidation and two-sided trade.

December corn ended up 1 1/2 cents to $3.59 3/4 per bushel, and March corn ended up 1 3/4 cents to $3.72 1/4.

Traders are awaiting Friday's government reports on crop production and supply and demand, and in the absence of fresh news, the market drifted sideways, traders said.

Following strong gains Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday was a "pause day," said Bill Gentry, broker/analyst with Risk Management Commodities.

The market traded a tight range throughout the day and showed a little bit of strength late.

"You didn't prove a whole lot today," a floor trader said.

But the trader said following sharp climbs Monday and Tuesday, there was some follow-through buying, with traders willing to step in and buy the breaks Wednesday.

Uncertainty about how much of the corn belt will see a frost this weekend or early next week also underpinned the market, traders said. The cold snap is expected to be strongest in the northwest corn belt.

Wet weather is also seen as supportive, as it will delay harvest and prevent further maturation in the late-developing crop.

Funds continue to support the market, and bought an estimated 3,000 contracts Wednesday. Weak crude oil pressured the market, analysts said, and Arlan Suderman, an analyst with Farm Futures, said he was "impressed" by corn's ability to remain firm despite that outside pressure.

Signs of improved demand are seen as supportive, particularly in the ethanol industry, according to analysts.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will release its report Friday at 8:30 a.m. EDT. If the report doesn't include a "major" increase in yield, that could give "courage" to bulls in the market, Suderman said.

Bulls say the market's near-term trend is pointing higher, while bears say that even with the adverse crop weather in the forecast, the total output this year will be large, and that eventually the harvest could pressure the market and send it again toward $3.

CBOT oats futures ended higher Wednesday. December oats ended up 3 3/4 cents to $2.32 per bushel and March oats ended up 4 1/4 cents to $2.46.

Ethanol futures were mixed. November ethanol was up $0.002 to $1.820 per gallon and December ethanol was down $0.003 to $1.769.


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