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EU wheat hits contract lows as euro, Russian crop weigh

Reuters, 04.08.17

PARIS, Aug 3 (Reuters) - European wheat futures fell for a fourth straight session to set contract lows on Thursday as a strong euro and a break through chart support increased selling pressure.

Rising expectations that Russia's harvest will be big also tempered concerns about international supply.

December milling wheat, the most active contract on the Paris-based Euronext exchange, fell as much as 1.75 euros, or 1 percent, to 168.00 euros a tonne, below a previous contract low of 169.25 euros set in March.

It later settled at 168.25 euros.

In just a month, the benchmark contract has given up about 20 euros after striking an 18-month high of 189 euros on July 5.

"Weakness has come mainly from the surge in the value of the euro ... the slow pace of EU exports (although still very early in the season) and reports that Russia's 2017 crop estimate is slowly getting bigger," UK merchant Gleadell said in a note.

The euro stayed close to a more than 2-1/2 year high against the dollar struck on Wednesday.

Consultancy IKAR forecast on Tuesday that Russia's wheat harvest will be a record, and rising expectations for the crop have shifted attention away from very poor U.S. spring wheat conditions, which had fuelled wheat markets' early summer rally.

Chicago wheat futures also fell for a fourth day in a row, with weaker soybean and corn prices linked to more favourable Midwest weather adding to selling pressure.

Weekly European Union data confirmed a modest start to the export season, with EU soft wheat exports reaching 941,000 tonnes one month into the 2017/18 season, well behind 2.6 million tonnes a year ago.

However, French ports showed brisk loading activity, suggesting France was benefiting from an early harvest with good crop quality to clinch some overseas sales.

Traders were still awaiting a clearer picture of rain-hampered harvests in Germany and elsewhere in northern Europe.

Heavy rain has fuelled concerns it would damage the quality of wheat and also malting barley.

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