Asia Grains-Thai mills buy Canadian wheat as global prices ease

Thu Feb 7, 2013 3:59am EST

* Thailand buys 50,000 T of Canadian spring wheat

* Indonesia takes 180,000 T of Australian prime wheat

* Asian buyers lock in supplies as wheat prices fall

SINGAPORE, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Thai flour mills bought 50,000 tonnes of Canadian spring wheat this week, while Indonesian importers booked Australian wheat cargoes as buyers took advantage of lower global prices to lock in supplies.

Canadian spring wheat to Thailand was sold between $380 and $385 a tonne, including cost and freight, for shipment in May and June, traders said.

"I think more buyers in Asia will take Canadian wheat," said a trader with an international trading company in Singapore. "Canadian prices are very attractive and the quality is similar to the U.S. spring wheat."

U.S. spring wheat is being offered around $395 a tonne.

Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand are key importers of U.S. spring wheat in Asia, besides Japan and South Korea.

U.S. wheat futures have lost almost 4 percent in three consecutive weeks of decline, with investors taking positions ahead of monthly supply and demand reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture due on Friday.

Indonesian millers paid around $355 to $360 a tonne for 180,000 tonnes of Australian prime wheat to be shipped in April and May.

South Korea's Daehan Flour Mills bought 40,500 tonnes of Australian milling wheat and CJ Cheiljedang Corp separately bought 1,500 tonnes of Australian milling wheat via tenders this week.

The wheat market is closely watching the U.S. winter crop for price direction. A severe drought in the U.S. Plains is threatening crop yields, although weekend rain has been forecast in parched areas.

In the feed grain market, South American soymeal prices rose this week on the back of dry weather in top supplier Argentina that has threatened crop yields.

U.S. soybean meal futures have gained 1.7 percent this week in a fifth straight week of gains.

Argentine soymeal was quoted around $530 a tonne for May shipment to Asia, up around $10 from last week. This compares with Indian soybean being offered close to $560 a tonne, with not many takers.

Warm and dry weather has stressed the soybean crop in Argentina, the world's No. 3 soybean supplier after Brazil and the United States. The dryness represents a sharp turnabout for Argentina, after excessive rains delayed planting in December.

This should prompt the USDA to tighten its forecast of global soy inventories in its monthly report on Friday.

Asian grain buying is likely to slow next week, with traders and millers in China and Southeast Asia closed for the Lunar New Year break. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral)

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