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Lower supply and stronger rouble drive Russian wheat prices higher

Reuters, 01.02.19

MOSCOW, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Russian wheat export prices rose last week on seasonally lower supply, a stronger rouble and concerns over state plans to build up sectoral regulation, analysts said on Monday.

Stronger controls on grain exports are being considered by Russia's state agriculture watchdog while the agriculture ministry plans to regulate domestic grain prices through subsidies on rail transport from remote regions and other previously used mechanisms.

Those plans, announced last week, have fuelled market speculation that Russia, the world's largest wheat exporter, could limit grain exports later in the 2018/19 season to keep a lid on domestic prices.

Black Sea prices for Russian wheat with 12.5 percent protein content and for delivery in February were $243 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 FOB wheat up $2 at $240.5 a tonne and barley steady at $236 a tonne.

Russia exported 29.4 million tonnes of grain from the start of the season on July 1 to Jan. 10, up 4.3 percent year on year, the agriculture ministry said. That included 24.7 million tonnes of wheat, up 12.8 percent.

Domestic prices for third-class wheat were up 50 roubles to 11,550 roubles ($174) a tonne at the end of last week in the European part of Russia on an ex-works basis. Ex-works supply does not include delivery costs.

Sunflower seed prices rose by 200 roubles to 18,900 roubles a tonne, SovEcon said. Domestic and export sunflower oil prices were steady at 42,675 roubles a tonne and $625 a tonne, respectively.

IKAR said its white sugar price index for southern Russia was $552.4 a tonne at Jan. 18, up $0.50 from a week earlier.

($1 = 66.4275 roubles)

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