Wheat futures set course for a strong finish to October, with a little help from fund positioning, despite Russia returning to winning ways in tenders by Egypt, the top importer.
Russia, which had seemed to have limited firepower for wheat exports left after a drought-diminished harvest, scooped 120,000 tonnes of the 300,000 tonnes of the grain ordered by Gasc, Egypt's state grain authority after an international tender.
However, details of the offers to the tender nonetheless highlighted the waning competitiveness of Russian supplies, which relied on their lower freight costs for victory.
And the result was not seen as changing the picture, as painted by analysis group Sovecon earlier this week, of Russian export supplies tailing off to de minimis levels early in 2013.
'Would have been right in there'
In fact, excluding freight, the winning Russian offers were, at $356.50 a tonne, nearly $3 a tonne more expensive than those from France, which Egypt also tapped for 120,000 tonnes.
And US supplies were the cheapest of all, with soft white winter wheat offered at less than $339 a tonne by Cargill, and soft red winter, the type traded in Chicago, at $348 a tonne by Alex Grain.
Result of Gasc tender
French origin: 60,000 tonnes, at $353.51 per tonne plus freight of $13.88 per tonne from Bunge
French origin: 60,000 tonnes, at $353.51 per tonne plus freight of $13.88 per tonne from Glencore
Romanian origin: 60,000 tonnes, at $355.88 per tonne plus freight of $10.75 per tonne from Ameropa
Russian origin: 120,000 tonnes, at $356.50 per tonne plus freight of $10.99 per tonne from Glencore
Orders for December 21-31 delivery
"Without the freight charges, US wheat would have been right in there," Brian Henry at Benson Quinn Commodities said, saying the result was a "factor" in higher wheat prices.
End-of-month positioning by funds was also likely playing a part, with regulatory data showing a "pretty healthy short position held in Chicago by some or other participant", which was likely to be tempted to cover its holding by ideas that US wheat was gaining competitiveness on international markets.
Indeed, wheat gained particularly in Chicago, adding 2% at one point, than in Kansas, in which funds have a less significant short holding, and is indeed a market which attracts less speculative trading.
In Paris, wheat for November added 1.4% at one stage, gaining support also from data showing the European Union cleared 405,000 tonnes of wheat for exports this week, rebounding 67% from last week's under-par level.
The shipments took the EU total so far in 2012-13 past 5m tonnes, and nearly 300,000 tonnes above the level a year ago, despite a smaller harvest.
Wheat investors have been closely watching international tenders for signs of the exit by the Black Sea exporters, renowned for their competitiveness, from contention, so diverting more demand to Europe and the US.
Ukraine, which on Wednesday shelved ideas of an imminent ban on exports, was invited by Gasc to tender, but no supplies from the former Soviet Union country were offered.