Wheat prices kicked their losing streak, soaring nearly 4% in Chicago, helped by growing concerns for curbs on Russian exports, just as Saudi Arabia extended a round of importer interest in buying.
Wheat futures for December delivery regained the $9-a- bushel mark in Chicago, reversing two days of losses, while in Kansas hitting $9.23 ¼ a bushel at one point, a gain of 3.4%.
European contracts, which have remained stronger in recent sessions, posted small gains, with Paris wheat for November closing up 1.6% at E265.00 a tonne, and London wheat adding 0.7%.
The increases, which pulled corn 2% higher in Chicago too, were attributed in the main to ideas that a meeting of Russian government and agriculture officials on Friday will impose some sort of curbs on exports, to protect domestic supplies of a drought-hit harvest.
"They were not slow to panic two years ago," Jerry Gidel, senior feed grains analyst at broker Rice Dairy, said.
"There are many people who think Russia is going to act again on Friday too," denying buyers access to a competitively-priced source of wheat, even in the early weeks of 2012-13, when Russian supplies have won a series of exports tenders, notably with Egypt, the top importer.
Rash of buyers
Some commentators questioned the likelihood of Russia, which last week gained membership of the World Trade Organization, taking drastic action.
"The Russian agriculture ministry meeting on Friday is unlikely to announce any export restrictions despite smaller crop and brisk pace of wheat exports," Richard Feltes at RJ O'Brien said.
Crop prices at close on Wednesday
Chicago wheat (December): $9.05 ¾ a bushel, +3.5%
Minneapolis (December): $9.55 a tonne, +3.4%
Kansas wheat (December): $9.22 a bushel, +3.2%
Chicago corn: $8.13 ½ a bushel, +2.5%
Chicago soybeans: $17.53 a bushel, +1.9%
Paris wheat (November): E265.00 a tonne, +1.6%
London wheat (November): £204.75 a tonne, +0.7%
However, buyers were handed extra strength by the announcement of a 550,000-tonne tender by Saudi Arabia, with Syria also reported to be in the market for a sizeable purchase.
The interest extended a round of purchases by major importers, with Tunisia on Wednesday purchasing 150,000 tonnes of soft milling wheat, following a 100,000-tonne purchase by Jordan on Tuesday and Egypt's 180,000-tonne buy at the weekend.
In with a chance
US wheat "could have a shot at getting some" of the Saudi Arabia order, Brian Henry, at Minneapolis-based Benson Quinn Commodities, said.
"We have to be thinking about getting something," although Canadian wheat also looks a likely contender.
"While you hear that the Canadian crop has been coming off well, they have been unusually coy about what they are getting."
While US wheat has been some $40-50 a tonne out of the running at recent Egyptian tenders, and undercut by European as well as Black Sea supplies, "what we have is the quality", Mr Gidel said.
Europe's crop has been dogged by quality concerns, although these appear to have eased in the later harvest.