Supplies of competitive Russian wheat, a weight on world wheat values, appear to have run dry, results from a tender by Egypt, the world's top importer, showed.
But wheat prices remained in negative territory on major markets after the tender also showed that Argentina, another supplier of cut-price wheat, is getting in on the act.
The latest tender from Egypt's state grain authority, Gasc, at
first sight provided a dollop of good news for Western wheat exporters in attracting,
for the first time in 2012-13, no offers from the Black Sea.
The region is usually renowned for its competitive supplies,
and Russian wheat in particular dominated Gasc orders up
to late September, when the impact of a drought-hit harvest began to strike.
Russia's weak harvest has, besides raising prices, raised
fears that Moscow will place curbs on grain exports.
"Notably there were no Russian offers for the Egyptian
business," grain traders at a major European commodities house said.
"At the moment the government over there don't need to intervene
in terms of an export ban, the price is doing the job for them."
'One door closes...'
Meanwhile, US shippers had the extra boost of seeing soft
red winter wheat offered as low as $340 a tonne, excluding transport, enough to
undercut French supplies were it not for the extra costs of shipping to Egypt
across the Atlantic.
In fact, French wheat accounts for 180,000 tonnes of the
240,000 tonnes that Gasc purchased.
However, US wheat could not compete with Argentine supplies,
offered as low as $333.68 a tonne, excluding freight, to win their first orders
from Gasc so far in 2012-13.
"As one door to cheap wheat for Egypt is closing, another one
is opening," a UK grain trader told Agrimoney.com.
"For the US, it all sets back the horizon when they will get
in on the unusual markets for them, in the Middle East and North Africa, that they
need to give their exports that extra oomph."
The US Department of Agriculture is forecasting a 13.4% rise
to 32.7m tonnes in US wheat exports this season.
On international markets, prices recovered some ground to
trade above intraday lows.
However, Chicago wheat remained in negative territory, down
0.3% at $8.69 a bushel, in lunchtime deals.
Paris wheat for November, its competitiveness under question
despite tender victory, closed down 0.5% at E258.00 a tonne.