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Russian wheat prices boosted by stronger rouble, global benchmarks

Reuters, 14.10.15

MOSCOW: Russian wheat export prices jumped last week, supported by higher global benchmark grain prices and a stronger rouble, analysts said on Monday. Prices have been also supported by a downgrade in forecasts for Russia's 2015 grain crop to 100 million tonnes, 5 million tonnes lower than a year ago.

Grain exports in 2015/16 are, however, seen unchanged at 30 million tonnes.

Black Sea forward prices for Russian wheat with 12.5 percent protein content were up $6 from a week earlier at $194 per tonne on a free-on-board (FOB) basis at the end of last week, an agriculture consultancy IKAR said in a note. SovEcon, another Moscow-based consultancy, said FOB prices were up $10 at $199 per tonne.

Egypt, one of the world's biggest importers of wheat, bought 120,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $198-199 per tonne on Friday. Domestic prices for third-class wheat rose 50 roubles from a week earlier to 10,350 roubles ($170) per tonne in the European part of Russia, on an ex-works basis, SovEcon said.

The growth in domestic prices has been supported by a state plan to increase the price at which it buys grain inside the country for its stocks.

Russian farmers have already harvested 100 million tonnes of grain, before drying and cleaning. They have also sown winter grains for next year's crop on 14.4 million hectares, or 85 percent of the total planned area.

Last week, Russia's Agriculture Ministry cut its forecast for the 2015 grain crop by 3 million tonnes to 100 million.

SovEcon has also cut its forecast slightly by 0.5 million tonnes to 101 million tonnes, but kept its estimate for the wheat crop unchanged at 60.8 million tonnes.

Its corn (maize) crop forecast was raised by 300,000 tonnes to 12.1 million tonnes, while its barley forecast was cut by 100,000 tonnes to 17.4 million tonnes.

The consultancy now sees Russia's 2015/16 exportable grain surplus at 30 million tonnes, 1 million lower than its previous estimate. SovEcon also said average prices for sunflower seeds were down 225 roubles at 25,025 roubles per tonne.

Domestic sunflower oil prices fell 1,825 roubles to 50,085 roubles per tonne, while export prices were up $20 at $760-$770 per tonne. IKAR's white sugar price index for southern Russia was at $642 per tonne, up $39 from a week earlier.

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