CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--Chicago Board of Trade corn futures ended higher Thursday on a weaker dollar and lousy crop weather, although the market retreated from earlier highs late in the session.

December corn ended up 4 1/4 cents to $3.64 per bushel, and March corn ended up 4 cents to $3.76 1/4.

Traders are awaiting Friday morning's government supply and demand report, which should resolve whether "there's enough ammunition left" to send the market higher, said Chad Henderson, analyst with Prime Ag Consultants.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will release the report at 8:30 a.m. EDT Friday. Traders had expected a slow week in the corn market ahead of the report, but that has not been the case. The December contract has gained 30 1/2 cents on the week.

Traders and analysts say that the surge has been led by a weaker dollar, fund-buying, technical strength, and forecasts of cold and wet weather in the U.S. corn belt through the weekend and into next week.

"It's all money, all money," one floor trader said, referring to funds. "I guess it's the wrong time to be short."

Asked if the market could make a run at $4, he said, "It's tough to pick a top when nobody cares about value. They just want to get in."

The cold weather in the forecast will likely end the growing season in the northwest corn belt, analysts say, and the heavy rains in other areas will keep farmers out of the field and prevent late crop maturation.

Despite the recent strength, the market failed for the second time this week to take out $3.70 in the December contract. A trader said that prompted profit-taking late in the day.

Henderson said rather than profit-taking, the late retreat resulted from "guys long this market saying, 'Why do I want to be long heading into this report?'"

Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires still expect on average the USDA to peg the corn crop at 12.993 billion bushels, which traders say is far from bullish.

Traders say the market also has underlying support from a demand picture that seems to be improving. Some analysts expect Friday's report to support the USDA's previous demand predictions, which traders previously had been dismissing as overly optimistic.

CBOT oats futures ended higher. December oats ended up 3 1/2 cents to $2.35 1/2 per bushel, and March oats ended up 3 1/4 cents to $2.49 1/4.

Ethanol futures were higher. November ethanol ended up $0.018 to $1.838 per gallon, and December ethanol ended up $0.018 to $1.787.


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