CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--Chicago Board of Trade corn futures ended higher Wednesday amid end-of-quarter position squaring and choppy trading, analysts said.

December corn ended up 3 cents to $3.44 per bushel, and March corn ended up 2 3/4 cents to $3.56 3/4.

The market went back and forth on both sides of unchanged throughout the session, with views that the market seems to have set its low for the season conflicting with ideas that fundamentals remain bearish.

"People are nervous to buy it and people are nervous to sell it," said Northstar Commodity analyst Jason Ward. "They're not sure what to do at this price."

The "true test" for the market, Ward said, is whether it can close above $3.47 for the week. He said the market has about 30 cents upside potential and about 30 cents downside potential.

John Kleist, broker/analyst with Allendale, said there was position-squaring across many markets Wednesday, but that come Thursday it will be "back to reality" for the market, which has a bearish crop and weak demand to contend with.

"Unless there's massive money flow to the long side, it's going to be difficult to maintain this kind of rally," Kleist said.

But Ward and others say that fund buying and strong basis are supportive elements in the market. Funds bought an estimated 3,000 contracts Wednesday.

Kleist said that fears of a frost that could hurt yields and rainy weather that could delay harvest are convenient excuses to push prices higher, but that longer term the market has problems. Among the problems are a large crop that is expected to top 13 billion bushels, weak feed demand and an abundance of feed-quality wheat.

Wednesday's quarterly stocks report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture put fourth-quarter stocks at 1.674 billion bushels. Although such supplies are ample, the report was seen as mildly friendly versus expectations.

Outside markets were seen as supportive, with a weaker dollar and higher crude oil boosting corn. Also, soybeans and wheat showed late strength Wednesday.

CBOT oats futures ended slightly lower in a modest correction from Tuesday's gains. December oats ended down 1 cent to $2.33 per bushel and March oats slipped 1 cent to $2.46 1/2.

Ethanol futures were higher. October ethanol ended up $0.018 to $1.783 per gallon and November ethanol ended up $0.013 to $1.692.


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