Wheat Prices Drop as Ruble Weakens Further

Russian wheat export prices registered a fifth consecutive weekly decline last week as benchmark prices in Chicago fell and the ruble weakened, analysts told Reuters on Monday.

Coronavirus fears which sparked a global sell-off in recent weeks sent the ruble to its weakest against the dollar since early 2019 and caused a drop in Chicago wheat prices.

Russian wheat with 12.5% protein content loaded from Black Sea ports fell by $4 to $214 a ton free on board (FOB) at the end of last week, agriculture consultancy SovEcon said. Barley fell by $5 to $185 a ton.

“The (Russian) market remains under pressure due to strong competition with other origins. Sharp weakening of the rouble currency also helps exporters to lower prices,” SovEcon said.

IKAR, another agricultural consultancy in Moscow, pegged wheat at $213 a ton.

Russia exported 28.6 million tonnes of grain between the start of the 2019/20 season on July 1 and February 27, down 18% from a year earlier, the agriculture ministry said, citing customs data.

The Russian customs service revised and upgraded its data for previous months last week. As a result, SovEcon increased its February export estimate by 500,000 tonnes from a week earlier. It added that it would no longer use weekly customs data for its monthly estimates as it lacks data on supplies to Iran.

SovEcon said that it had nonetheless lowered its forecast for Russia’s 2019/20 grain exports by 300,000 tons to 41.2 million tons due to a weak pace of exports. Its estimate for wheat is down by 100,000 tons to 32.1 million tons.

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