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Russian wheat slips amid weak global prices and stronger rouble

Reuters, 26.03.18

MOSCOW, March 26 (Reuters) - Russian wheat export prices fell slightly last week as the Chicago and Paris wheat benchmarks remained weak, cancelling out a modest strengthening of the rouble against the dollar and active exports, analysts said on Monday.

Black Sea prices for Russian wheat with 12.5 percent protein content for April delivery were at $208 a tonne free on board (FOB) at the end of last week, down $1 from a week earlier, Russian agricultural consultancy IKAR said in a note.

SovEcon, another Moscow-based consultancy, quoted FOB wheat prices down $0.50 at $207.5 a tonne while Barley was flat at $216 a tonne.

Maize (corn) prices were at $201 a tonne, up $11, on active global demand for Ukrainian maize, SovEcon said.

Some market players expect tensions between the United States and China to support Beijing's demand for maize supplies from Ukraine. At present, Russian supplies to China are competitive only from Russia's far eastern regions.

As of March 21 Russia had exported 37.7 million tonnes of grain since the start of the 2017/18 season on July 1, including 29.4 million tonnes of wheat, the Agriculture Ministry said. Grain exports were up 40 percent from the same period of the previous season.

Strong exports meant that stocks at farms in three major exporting regions in Russia's south fell below last year's level, said Dmitry Rylko at IKAR.

Russia's grain stocks at farms and procurement and processing companies, excluding small farms, were up 19 percent from a year earlier at 38.3 million tonnes at March 1, data from state statistics service Rosstat showed.

SovEcon also said it had upgraded its forecast for Russia's 2017/18 grain exports by 800,000 tonnes to 50.2 million tonnes. Its forecast for wheat was raised by 300,000 tonnes to 38.3 million tonnes.

Domestic prices for third-class wheat were flat at 8,575 roubles ($150.71) a tonne at the end of last week 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 by 50 roubles to 19,800 roubles a tonne, SovEcon said. Domestic sunflower oil prices and export oil prices were unchanged at 43,250 roubles and $745 respectively.

IKAR's white sugar price index for southern Russia was at $507 a tonne as of March 23, down $11 from a week earlier.

($1 = 56.8979 roubles)

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