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Russian wheat prices remain broadly flat

Reuters, 31.07.19

Russian wheat export prices remained broadly flat last week, supported by lowered harvest and export forecasts, and by farmers holding back sales, analysts said. Black Sea prices for wheat with 12.5% protein content remained flat on a week earlier, at $193 a tonne free on board (FOB) at the end of last week, Russian agricultural consultancy IKAR said in a note.

SovEcon, another Moscow-based consultancy, quoted FOB wheat rising by $2 to $197 a tonne. FOB barley prices rose by $2 to $177, it added. "(The) rouble remains strong, farmers are halting sales and traders have to up bids in ports," analysts at SovEcon wrote in a note. On Friday, SovEcon cut its grain export forecast for the new 2019/20 marketing season, which started on July 1, by 7 million tonnes to 41.9 million tonnes. It also downgraded its wheat export forecast by 6.2 million tonnes to 31.4 million tonnes.

However, preliminary data on planted areas of the 2019 crop published by statistics agency Rosstat showed wheat had been planted on 0.3 million hectares more than SovEcon had estimated. "This implies an additional 0.7-0.9 million tonnes to our most recent forecast, ceteris paribus," the consultancy said.

On Monday, IKAR said it had raised its forecast for the country's 2019 wheat crop to 76.4 million tonnes from 76.1 million tonnes. However, the consultancy said a lack of rain in some Siberian regions created a risk of a forecast downgrade. From July 1-25 Russia exported 2.59 million tonnes of grains, 21% less than during the same period the previous year, SovEcon said, citing data from Russian customs authorities.

That figure included 1.86 million tonnes of wheat, 0.54 million tonnes of barley and 0.19 million tonnes of maize (corn), the consultancy said. On the domestic market, prices continued to fall on the arrival of the new crop, though SovEcon said this trend had weakened noticeably. Prices for third-class wheat fell by 25 roubles to 10,475 roubles ($164.99) a tonne at the end of last week in European parts of Russia on an ex-works basis, SovEcon said. Ex-works does not include delivery costs.

Sunflower seed prices rose by 100 roubles to 19,850 roubles a tonne, while domestic sunflower oil prices rose by 350 roubles to 44,575 roubles a tonne, SovEcon said. FOB export prices for sunflower oil rose $5 to $740 a tonne. IKAR said its price index for white sugar from southern Russia was at $427.49 a tonne on July 26, up from $437.69 a week earlier.

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