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Evening markets: export concerns sap EU grains

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Grain prices struggled on Monday, despite the absence of US markets, which have provided little but bearish influence of late.

US markets were closed for the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

Nonetheless, European grains ran into trouble over exports, or rather the potential lack of them, as buyers announced a plethora of tenders, but European grain appeared to be struggling to feature in winning bids.

There were rumours that Europe did feature strongly among winners of Saudi Arabia's huge 440,000-tonne tender. But only rumours.

Saudi did not go beyond announcing the winning trading houses and the average price.

Elbowed out

What was more certain was that Kazakhstan had agreed a 1.5m-tonne supply deal to Egypt, the world's biggest wheat buyer.

With Egypt also formalising relations with Russia over supplies, the patch that others such as Europe can compete for is getting smaller and smaller.

Paris wheat for March eased E1.25 to E126.00 a tonne, while its London feed wheat equivalent ended down £1.75 at £102.25 a tonne.

London commodities had the extra trouble of stronger sterling, which hit a one-month high against the dollar and four-month top against the euro.

Firm house price data soothed concerns for the economic revival, while GDF Suez's apparent interest in International Power raised thoughts of takeovers of UK companies, a process requiring sterling purchases.

'Tightening market'

Among softs, the pound also held back sterling-denominated cocoa, despite talk of a sharp drop in deliveries to Ivory Coast ports, and of dry weather posing a potential future problem.

London cocoa for March eased 0.7% to $2,290 a tonne.

However, dollar denominated coffee did better, adding 0.2% to $1,378 a tonne for March delivery. Data showing a drop in US green coffee stocks was marginally supportive.

And white sugar got back on the front foot, ending 1.3% higher at $732.70 a tonne, helped by Pakistan's launch of yet another tender.

Pakistan issued a tender for 50,000 tonnes of white sugar, taking the total it is seeking to 450,000 tonnes.

"The news all seems pretty much to indicate a tightening market," a London trader told

"It looks like prices are just going to keep rising for now."


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