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Morning markets: Russia's reappearance weighs on wheat price

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If the last session was about China, this was started off focusing on Russia.

Not that China was off the agenda, with tremors from its interest rate rise on Wednesday still being felt on many Asian markets, which had closed by the time it was implemented.

(And, indeed, the increase, viewed as a setback to commodity prices in potentially sapping appetite for raw materials, may not be the last, if Australia & New Zealand Bank is to be believed, quoting a "high probability" of a further increase in the July-to-September quarter to curb inflation.)

But Russia took centre stage thanks to Egypt's announcement overnight of a


tender which, for the first time in nearly a year, was open to Black Sea grain.

Egypt's Gasc grain-buying authority had sidelined Russia (and Kazakahstan, and has a long-standing veto on Ukraine grain) in its tenders after being left without wheat by the country's crop export ban imposed last August, following drought, and only lifted on Friday.

'Stiff competition'

But has money talked? Merchants are rumoured to have flooded Gasc with offers for Russian grain of late, even without invitation. (Egypt is the world's top wheat buyer, after all.)

And Russia believed to have huge supplies needing shipment to empty silos before this year's harvest, the offers may well have been lowball. Indeed, the country on Wednesday won a 150,000-tonne wheat tender by Jordan, with prices of about $290 a tonne, including freight.

"US wheat is facing stiff competition from Russian suppliers," Lynette Tan at Phillip Futures said.

"Russian supplies are expected to be priced competitively with US and French wheat" in the Egyptian tender, whose results will be announced later.

The best hopes for the US and France may be that "quality concerns put the Black Sea wheat at a disadvantage", Ms Tan added.

Brazil question

Whatever, the prospect put wheat under a little bit of a cloud in early deals, with Chicago's September contract down 0.2% at $6.25 ¾ a bushel as of 07:20 GMT (08:20 UK time), despite an easier dollar, which should give dollar-denominated assets a bit of an edge in export deals.

Kansas hard red winter wheat for September was 0.2% lower at $7.25 ¼ a bushel, with Minneapolis spring wheat for the same month down 0.2% at $8.26 a bushel.

The decline in Chicago left


within an ace of gaining a premium over wheat even on a second-contract basis (the July lots are still open, if close to expiry), with the September corn lot up 0.2% at $6.20 a bushel.

The grain is being supported by, besides the weaker dollar, continued talk of Chinese purchases and doubts over a 400,000-tonne upgrade to the official forecast for Brazil's production in 2010-11, despite frost and drought threats to the second, aka safrinha, crop.

Another revision due by crop agency Conab in August "will drop the corn number to reality", Brazilian crop consultant Kory Melby said.

Bouncing barrels



prices helped corn, a major bioethanol source, too. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.8% to pop back above $97 a barrel helped by data showing US oil stockpiles fell by 3.2m barrels last week, more than the 2.3m barrels forecast.

That was a help as well to the oilseed complex, a source of biodiesel.

Palm oil

for September recovered 0.6% to 3,046 ringgit a tonne in Kuala Lumpur, and failed, for the first time in three days, to record an eight-month low during the trading session.

Back in Chicago,


edged 0.4% higher to $13.27 ½ a bushel for August and by the same to $13.24 a bushel for the new crop, and best-traded, November lot.

"Soybeans continue to trade is a rather orderly fashion with the March low of $12.73 ½ a bushel the key support level," Brian Henry at Benson Quinn Commodities said.

"Upward momentum in the soybean market is going to be challenged by various technical resistance levels at $13.41 ½ a bushel and likely at $13.54 ½."

Still, the oilseed at least emerged best from the shock US acreage data unveiled a week ago, a factor which has put it in favour with many analysts.


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