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Russian wheat prices stable amid flat benchmarks, long holiday

Reuters, 26.12.17

MOSCOW, Dec 25 (Reuters) - Russian wheat export prices were stable last week amid flat global benchmarks in Chicago and Paris and due to quiet trade ahead of the long seasonal holiday, analysts said on Monday.

Black Sea prices for Russian wheat with 12.5 percent protein content for January delivery were $191 per tonne on a free on board basis (FOB) at the end of last week, unchanged from a week earlier, agriculture consultancy IKAR said in a note.

Moscow-based consultancy SovEcon said wheat prices were flat at $191 per tonne, while prices for barley fell $0.5 to $191.5 per tonne and prices for maize (corn) rose $1 to $166 per tonne.

CME Group launched trade in Black Sea wheat futures on Dec. 18 with the aim of extending its presence in the booming Black Sea export region. According to SovEcon, trade with this contract has been minimal so far.

By Dec. 20, Russia had exported 25.5 million tonnes of grain since the start of the season on July 1, up 34 percent year-on-year, the agriculture ministry said. Wheat exports were up 34 percent at 19.9 million tonnes.

Russia's grain stocks at farms and procurement and processing companies, excluding small farms, were up 16 percent from a year earlier at 52.6 million tonnes as of Dec. 1, data from state statistics service Rosstat showed.

According to SovEcon, Rosstat said in its preliminary data last week that Russia's 2017 grain crop had totalled 134.1 million tonnes by clean weight vs 120.7 million tonnes in 2016. The final data is likely to be higher due to additional maize harvesting in 2018.

Domestic prices for third-class wheat were down 25 roubles at 8,625 roubles ($148) a tonne in the European part of Russia on an ex-works basis, SovEcon said. Ex-works supply does not include delivery costs.

Russian sunflower seed prices rose 100 roubles to 18,700 roubles a tonne last week, SovEcon said. Domestic sunflower oil prices remained unchanged at 44,000 roubles per tonne, while FOB export oil prices fell $15 to $730 a tonne.

According to Rosstat preliminary data, Russia's 2017 sunflower seed crop totalled 9.5 million tonnes, SovEcon said, adding that this estimate is likely to be upgraded in the first quarter of 2018.

SovEcon has said it expected the crop at 10.3 million tonnes compared with a record of 11 million tonnes in 2016.

IKAR's white sugar price index for southern Russia was down $11 at $409.8 a tonne as of Dec. 22.

Russia will be on official New Year holidays from Jan. 1 to 8. The next Reuters' wheat weekly will be out on Jan. 15. ($1 = 58.1080 roubles)

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