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Russian barley prices overtake wheat as China steps up buying

Reuters, 05.02.18

MOSCOW, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Russian barley prices rose last week and, in a rare occurrence for the market, overtook those of wheat, boosted by Chinese purchases from Russia's competitors, analysts said on Monday.

China has been stepping up barley purchases, mainly from Australia, Canada and Ukraine, due to rising livestock feed demand. It is soaking up almost all of Australia's barley exports and the trend could continue as Beijing looks to divert corn supplies toward ethanol fuel.

Black Sea prices for Russian wheat with 12.5 percent protein content were at $195 a tonne on a free-on-board (FOB) basis at the end of last week, up $0.5 from a week earlier, Russian agricultural consultancy IKAR said in a note.

Meanwhile, prices for barley rose $3.5 to $198 per tonne, according to SovEcon, another Moscow-based consultancy. IKAR pegged them at $199 per tonne.

At Jan. 31, Russia had exported 30.4 million tonnes of grain from the start of the 2017/18 season on July 1, including 23.7 million tonnes of wheat and 3.8 million tonnes of barley, the agriculture ministry said. The pace of grain exports was up 34 percent compared with the same period in the previous season.

Domestic prices for third-class wheat were flat at 8,550 roubles ($151) a tonne in the European part of Russia on an ex-works basis, according to SovEcon. Ex-works supply does not include delivery costs.

New crop sunflower seed prices fell 100 roubles to 19,525 roubles per tonne, while domestic sunflower oil prices rose 75 roubles to 43,750 per tonne. Sunflower oil export prices were flat at $735 per tonne.

IKAR's white sugar price index for southern Russia rose $0.7 to $483.5 a tonne as of Feb. 2.

($1 = 56.5440 roubles)

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