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Russian wheat prices up, track global benchmarks

Reuters, 30.09.15

Russian export and domestic wheat prices rose last week thanks to an increase in global benchmarks, a stronger rouble and an expectation that the government would approve a wheat export tax cut, analysts said on Monday.

Global wheat prices have been rising in recent days, partially due to concerns over dry weather in the Black Sea region, where Russia and Ukraine are sowing winter grains for next year’s crop.

However, according to the SovEcon agriculture consultancy, rains are expected in Russia’s main wheat producing and exporting southern regions this week, though there is still time to sow wheat in time.

“There are dry conditions in the southern regions in general, but it’s too early to talk about significant risks for winter wheat,” SovEcon said.

Another Moscow-based consultancy IKAR put Black Sea forward prices for Russian wheat with 12.5 percent protein content at $188 per tonne free-on-board (FOB) at the end of last week, up $5 from a week earlier.

SovEcon had FOB prices up $6 at $187 per tonne. Domestic prices for third-class wheat rose 225 roubles from a week earlier to 10,225 roubles ($156) per tonne in the European part of Russia on an ex-works basis.

The Russian government has proposed cutting its floating wheat export tax, which prevented exporters from fully benefiting from the weaker rouble, from Oct. 1, and exempting durum wheat from the levy, a senior official said last week.

While the final decision is yet to be signed by Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the duty formula is expected to be changed to 50 percent of the customs price minus 6,500 roubles per tonne, but not be less than 10 roubles per tonne.

The government is also considering raising grain prices for its restocking programme, which are currently too low to be competitive with market prices.

SovEcon said average prices for sunflower seeds were up 600 roubles at 25,600 roubles per tonne. Domestic sunflower oil prices fell 250 roubles to 54,500 roubles per tonne, while export prices were up $10 at $730-$740 per tonne.

IKAR’s white sugar price index for southern Russia was at $604 per tonne, down $21 from a week earlier.

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