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Global benchmarks and Black Sea crop downgrades boost Russian wheat

Reuters, 28.05.18

MOSCOW, May 28 (Reuters) - Russian wheat export prices rose last week, tracking global benchmarks in Chicago WN8 and Paris BL2Z8, with further support from downgrades to Russian 2018 crop forecasts, analysts said on Monday.

U.S. wheat futures jumped 5 percent last week as unfavourable weather in the U.S. Plains wheat belt added to worries about crops in parts of major wheat exporters Canada, Australia and Russia.

Harvesting in Russia, which produced a record grain crop in 2017, usually starts in the second half of June. The country faces slightly lower production this year because of dry weather in some regions, analysts said last week, with some downgrading 2018 forecasts.

Black Sea prices for the new crop of Russian wheat with 12.5 percent protein content were at $204 a tonne free on board (FOB) at the end of last week, up $5 from a week earlier, Russian agricultural consultancy IKAR said in a note.

SovEcon, another Moscow-based consultancy, quoted new-crop prices for July delivery at $202 a tonne, up $4.

IKAR pegged prices for the old crop unchanged at $210 a tonne amid low liquidity as buyers wait for the new crop. SovEcon quoted old-crop FOB wheat prices down $1 at $211 a tonne, with maize (corn) down $1.5 at $197.50.

Russian grain exports since the start of the 2017/18 season on July 1 reached 48 million tonnes by May 23, including 37 million tonnes of wheat, the Agriculture Ministry said. Grain exports were up 46 percent from the same period of the previous season.

May exports of Russian wheat, barley and maize are estimated at 5 million tonnes, compared with 4.3 million tonnes in April, SovEcon said.

Farmers have already sown spring grains and pulses on 66.5 percent of the planned area, or 20.6 million hectares, compared with 23.8 million hectares a year ago, the ministry said.

Domestic prices for fourth-class wheat rose by 225 roubles to 9,075 roubles ($146) a tonne at the end of last week in the European part of Russia on an ex-works basis, SovEcon said. Ex-works supply does not include delivery costs.

Sunflower seed prices rose 475 roubles to 21,725 roubles a tonne, SovEcon said, adding that prospects for the sunseed harvest in Russia and Ukraine are quite good this year.

Domestic sunflower oil prices added 675 roubles to 45,175 roubles a tonne, while export prices rose $5 to $745 a tonne.

IKAR's white sugar price index for southern Russia was at $558.5 a tonne on May 25, up $0.50 from a week earlier.

($1 = 62.2000 roubles)

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