Russian wheat prices hit four-year high on fear of export curbs


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    Russian wheat prices have risen to levels not seen in four years amid concerns of possible export curbs by Moscow and dwindling sales from Ukraine.

Grain producers in the the Black Sea region, led by Russia, are key exporters  of wheat, especially to the Middle East and north Africa. Russia overtook the US as the largest wheat exporter in the 2015-16 crop year and exported 41m tonnes of the grain in the 2017-18 crop year, almost double that of the US.

But dry weather has led to lower yields this year while Russian exports have remained strong, prompting worries among traders that overseas sales will start eating into domestic supplies, leading to a clampdown in exports.

In Ukraine, meanwhile, a cap is in place for wheat exports in 2018-19, split equally between feed and milling. As of January 18, more than 80 per cent of the agreed volume of milling wheat had been exported, said analysts at AHDB Market Intelligence.

Russian wheat prices hit $246.25 a tonne at the start of the week, the highest since February 2015, according to S&P Global Platts.

Rabobank, a leading lender to agricultural businesses, said that the higher Russian prices could help US sales to less traditional importers — south east Asia and Latin America — although it said that, with the lack of agricultural data due to the US government shutdown, the impact was difficult to quantify.

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