Continuing heavy rain in Spain has prevented any progress in the current olive oil crop. The result is that no new season oil is available yet. Given the duration of the festivities in Spain, there will not be any substantial volumes passing through the crushing mills before mid-January, while export shipping can be expected to extend delivery dates into February. In Spain, ex-works prices have firmed slightly, but the long holiday period also means domestic trade is unlikely to really pick up until next year. UK buyers face an additional twist to the price spiral, however, as the recovering euro has taken a 3% shave off sterling: the rate dropped from 279 pesetas to 271 during the week. Months of strong currency have insulated the UK from most of the market movements, but anyone without cover to February is about to feel the sharp edge of a market tightening on both sides. Had harvesting got under way before Christmas, the Spanish crop would easily have topped the magic one million tonne milestone with at least 100,000t to spare. While a million tonnes remains probable, growers are unlikely to be too worried if some of the crop stays on the ground. However, winter storms may take more fruit off the trees than expected. This would give returning revellers a sobering frisson on a spot market which is likely to be fairly lively in the new year. It will take a lot of nerve to stay calm if the Spanish co-operatives try to talk the market up with bad weather stories after Christmas. {{PROVISIONS }}