Paris wheat prices hold firm after Egyptian order

Wheat futures held firm in Paris on dire day for agricultural commodity prices after Egypt made its largest order of French wheat since at least 2010-11, as prices of Russian supplies soared out of contention.

Egypt's state grain authority, Gasc, purchased 300,000 tonnes of French and Romanian wheat at its latest tender, taking above 2m tonnes its purchases since the 2012-13 marketing year started in July.

For the first time this season, Russian wheat failed to win a place on a Gasc order roster, thanks to spiralling prices which analysis group Ikar says have reached their highest since the Soviet Union collapsed more than 20 years, lifted by the squeeze put on supplies by a drought-hit harvest.

The only Russian wheat offered, by Glencore, was priced at $372 a tonne excluding freight, more than $23 a tonne above the average price that Gasc paid for the winning French and Romanian supplies.

Separately, Arkady Dvorkovich, Russian deputy prime minister, revealed the country may next week start sales of grain from state inventories.

'Question of when'

Russia's failure was viewed by many investors as predictable, given the decline in the competitiveness in its offers as its exportable surplus has run low.

"It has been long-trailed that demand will switch away from the Black Sea.  It was just a question of when," a UK grain trader told

However, the size of the order, of which French grain comprised an unusually-large 180,000 tonnes, did surprise some investors, after Gasc last week said it had almost seven months of supplies in store.

"It could be for political reasons, to make sure there is enough grain in store at a time when the [Middle East and North Africa] region is not exactly as its most stable.

"Or it could be that it sees prices recovering once harvest pressure on corn eases," and the latter stages of the US corn harvest reduce the opportunity for buyers to purchase straight off the combine.

Market reaction

Paris wheat futures for November delivery closed unchanged at E261.25 a tonne.

That represented a resilient performance on a day when Chicago wheat lost 2.0%, with corn and soybeans falling even further to post their lowest prices since early July.

The drop in Chicago prices came despite evidence from the tender that US wheat is improving its competitiveness on the world stage, with soft red winter wheat offered by merchant Venus at $356 a tonne, only some $6 a tonne from winning bids, excluding freight, and now far cheaper than Russian supplies.

London feed wheat ended 1.6% down at £200.80 a tonne.

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