Asia Grains-Indonesia buys wheat; Indian soymeal prices rise
* Indonesia buys 25,000 T of Australian standard wheat
* Indian soymeal prices jump on Iranian demand
* Australian wheat prices slide, US little changed
By Naveen Thukral
SINGAPORE, March 8 (Reuters) - Indonesia bought 25,000 tonnes of Australian wheat for May shipment as global prices continued to slide this week, with improving weather across the U.S. grain belt and other producing regions boosting supply prospects.
Indian soymeal prices jumped this week on strong demand from Iran which now accounts for the bulk of the country's exports of the animal feed ingredient.
Indonesia paid around $350 a tonne, including cost and freight (C&F), for Australian standard wheat to be shipped in May, said traders, adding that Thai flour millers are likely to be in the market for May arrival wheat.
"Prices have fallen but we haven't seen a big pick up in Asian demand," said one Singapore-based trader who sells U.S. and Australian wheat in Asia. "Indonesia bought one cargo and we expect Thailand to cover for May shipment."
Chicago Board of Trade front-month wheat is heading for a 3.5 percent loss this week, its seventh straight week of declines on improved supply prospects in the United States.
Winter wheat growers in the U.S. Plains were enjoying improved soil-moisture conditions in some key growing areas as the region's drought levels continued to retreat.
Drought conditions improved because of recent snowstorms in top U.S. wheat producer Kansas as well as in Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado, also key wheat-production states.
Australia, the world's second-largest wheat exporter after the United States, forecast production in the 2013/14 marketing year will rise 13 percent from the previous year, boosted by increased planting and higher yields from better growing conditions.
As a result, Australian wheat prices slipped in the cash market.
Australian prime wheat was quoted at $355 a tonne, C&F, down from last week's $365 a tonne and standard wheat was being offered around $350 a tonne compared with $355-$360 quoted last week. Australian hard wheat, with 12 percent protein, was quoted at $365 a tonne, down from $380 a tonne.
U.S. wheat prices in Asia's physical market were largely unchanged despite Chicago futures losing more ground, traders said.
"There was lack of farmer selling in the U.S. as some people have started feeling that the wheat market has been oversold," a second Singapore-based wheat trader said.
U.S. soft white wheat was quoted around $355-$360 a tonne, C&F, to Southeast Asia while hard red winter wheat was being offered at $370 a tonne. U.S. dark northern spring wheat was offered around $400 a tonne.
PRICEY INDIAN SOYMEAL
Indian soymeal is being quoted around $590-$600 a tonne, C&F, to Southeast Asia, an increase of about $15 from last week. This compares with Argentine high-protein meal being offered around $525 a tonne for April-May shipment.
"There are no takers for Indian soymeal in Asia at these prices," said one feed grains trader in Singapore. "Usually Indian soymeal is at $15-$20 discount to Argentine meal."
Traders said the bulk of the Indian soymeal was destined for Iran, whose demand had resulted in the prices firming.
Asian buyers are looking forward to a rebound in soybean supplies from South America but port congestion in Brazil is causing concerns.
Some traders said waiting times for ships at Brazilian ports had risen to almost two months.
Importers are awaiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture monthly report on supply-demand for farm products which is due at 1700 GMT.
Analysts expect the USDA to lower its forecasts for end-year 2012/13 U.S. and global soybean stocks. It is expected to increase supply estimates for wheat and corn in its report. (Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)