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Russian wheat prices flat, eyes on strong harvest ahead

Reuters, 22.07.19

MOSCOW, July 22 (Reuters) - Russian wheat export prices were broadly flat last week in quiet trade as importers held out for lower prices after a strong harvest.

Black Sea prices for wheat with 12.5% protein content edged down slightly to $193.5 a tonne free on board (FOB) at the end of last week, from $194 a week earlier, Russian agricultural consultancy IKAR said in a note.

SovEcon, another Moscow-based consultancy, quoted FOB wheat rising by $2.5 to $195 a tonne. FOB barley prices rose by $2 to $175, it added.

Analysts said importers were holding out for lower prices for Russian wheat in future.

"It looks like GASC (Egypt's General Authority for Supply Commodities) and other importers still hope to get lower prices for the Black Sea wheat and expect to see a bumper crop in the region," analysts at SovEcon said.

"However, with significantly worsened weather conditions and strong rouble, this might not happen," SovEcon added.

Between July 1-18 Russia exported 1.42 million tonnes of grains, 31% less than during the same period the previous year, SovEcon said, citing data from Russian customs authorities.

That figure includes 0.98 million tonnes of wheat, 0.31 million tonnes of barley and 0.13 million tonnes of maize (corn), the consultancy said.

However, SovEcon said it believes that customs authorities continue to underreport exports, and cited port data showing exports of grains in the same timeframe at 2.3 million tonnes, including 1.9 million tonnes of wheat.

SovEcon expects July grain exports to be at 3.7 million tonnes, including 3 million tonnes of wheat.

IKAR said on Monday it had cut its forecasts for grain exports in the 2019/2020 season to 42.5 million tonnes from 43.5 million tonnes, and its forecasts for 2019 wheat production to 76.1 million tonnes from 77.4 million tonnes.

On the domestic market, prices continued to fall on the arrival of the new crop. Prices for third-class wheat fell by 175 roubles to 10,500 roubles ($167) a tonne at the end of last week in European parts of Russia on an ex-works basis, SovEcon said. Ex-works supply does not include delivery costs.

Sunflower seed prices held at 19,750 roubles a tonne while domestic sunflower oil prices rose by 400 roubles to 44,225 roubles a tonne, SovEcon said. FOB export prices for sunflower oil rose $15 to $735 a tonne.

IKAR said its price index for white sugar from southern Russia was at $437.69 a tonne on July 19, up from $420.70 a week earlier.

($1 = 62.9755 roubles)

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