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Russian wheat up amid higher French wheat prices, strong demand

Reuters, 19.03.18

MOSCOW, March 19 (Reuters) - Russian wheat export prices rose further last week amid higher prices for French wheat BL2K8 and strong demand from Egypt, one of the largest wheat buyers, analysts said on Monday.

Egypt's state-buyer GASC bought 120,000 tonnes of Russian wheat and 120,000 tonnes of Romanian wheat in a tender on March 15.

Black Sea prices for Russian wheat with 12.5 percent protein content and for delivery in late March-early April were at $209 a tonne on a free-on-board (FOB) basis at the end of last week, up $1 from a week earlier, Russian agricultural consultancy IKAR said in a note.

SovEcon, another Moscow-based consultancy, quoted FOB wheat and maize (corn) prices unchanged at $208 and $190 per tonne, respectively. Barley prices fell $1 to $216 per tonne after strong growth in previous weeks.

"Taking into account the rouble currency weakening (against the dollar) and slow growth in the domestic market, the current situation remains highly favourable for exporters," SovEcon said.

Russian grain exporters currently have a gross margin of about $10 per tonne compared with the usual several dollars per tonne, SovEcon said. This factor will support exports of the Russian grain in the nearest months but also may not last for long if competition between exporters intensifies.

As of March 14, Russia had exported 36.4 million tonnes of grain since the start of the 2017/18 season on July 1, including 28.4 million tonnes of wheat, the Agriculture Ministry said. Grain exports were up 39 percent compared with the same period the previous season.

SovEcon expects Russia to export 49.4 million tonnes of grain, including 38.0 million tonnes of wheat, in the season.

Active spring grain sowing in Russia and Ukraine, major global exporters of the foodstuff, is expected to start later than last year due to a delayed spring and deep snow cover. However, good levels of soil moisture are so far bolstering the chances of another large harvest.

SovEcon expects Russia's 2018 grain crop to be 128.7 million tonnes, including 77.6 million tonnes of wheat. In 2017, the harvest was at 135.4 million tonnes and 85.9 million tonnes, respectively.

Domestic prices for third-class wheat were down 50 roubles to 8,575 roubles compared with the end week earlier in the European part of Russia on an ex-works basis, according to SovEcon. Ex-works supply does not include delivery costs.

Sunflower seed prices fell 25 roubles to 19,850 roubles per tonne, SovEcon said. Domestic sunflower oil prices rose 175 roubles to 43,250 roubles per tonne and export oil prices unchanged at $745 per tonne.

IKAR's white sugar price index for southern Russia was at $517 a tonne as of March 16, up $39.5 from a week earlier.

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