Asia Grains-Malaysia buys Australian wheat, LatAm corn premiums fall

Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:41am EDT

* Malaysian mills buy 25,000 T of Australian wheat

* Indonesian buyers may seek June shipment wheat

* Argentine corn premiums fall on higher supplies

* Indian corn at $305/T vs Argentine at $328/T

By Naveen Thukral

SINGAPORE, March 28 (Reuters) - Malaysian flour mills bought 25,000 tonnes of Australian wheat this week for shipment in June, while most Asian buyers stayed on the sidelines ahead of a key U.S. government report on stockpiles.

Premiums for Argentina's new-crop corn slipped on expectations of higher supplies while Indian exporters continued to sell corn in Southeast Asia at competitive prices.

Australian prime hard wheat with 13 percent protein content was sold to Malaysia at $360 a tonne, including cost and freight (C&F), and Australian prime wheat at $350 a tonne, traders said.

"Malaysians have been covering some wheat for June shipment but the rest of the buyers have been quiet, as not many are willing to take positions ahead of the U.S. stocks report," said one Singapore-based grains trader.

"Buying could pick up next week, depending on what comes out in the report and how prices react."

The U.S. Agriculture Department's quarterly stocks report, due at 1600 GMT, is expected to show that corn stocks by March 1 were 5.013 billion bushels, according to the average of estimates in a Reuters survey of 21 analysts.

If reached, that would be the lowest March reading of corn stocks since the 1997/98 crop year, when stocks were 4.94 billion bushels. Soybean and wheat stocks are also seen falling, with soy supplies forecast to hit their lowest in nine years.

As a result, Chicago Board of Trade May corn is on track for a third consecutive week of gains, while soybeans have edged lower this week, snapping the last two weeks of gains on expectations of higher supplies from South America. May wheat is heading for a third straight week of gains.

Indonesian wheat buyers have yet to cover some 250,000 to 300,000 tonnes for June shipment, traders said. "Flour millers are looking for some stability before they return to the market," said another Singapore trader.

In the feedgrain market, premiums for Argentine corn slid on expectations of higher supplies. Argentine corn premiums fell to around $100 a tonne over the May CBOT contract from $115 a tonne last week.

"They are releasing more corn for exports and the crop looks good," said the first Singapore trader.

Argentine corn harvesting progressed briskly over the last week and outpaced soy collection, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said on Wednesday.

The exchange forecasts a 2012/13 soybean crop of 48.5 million tonnes and a 25 million-tonne corn harvest in Argentina, the world's No. 3 exporter of both crops.

Indian corn exporters offer stiff competition to South American suppliers in the Southeast Asian market, traders said.

Indian corn was quoted around $305 a tonne, C&F, for May/June arrival as compared with Argentine corn being offered at $328 a tonne.

Indian suppliers are signing deals to export some 200,000 tonnes of corn every month, with Vietnam and Indonesia being the key importers. Malaysia, which typically takes South American corn, is covered until April.

South Korea's largest feedmaker Nonghyup Feed Inc. has rejected all offers and made no purchase in an international tender for corn but bought 62,000 tonnes of feed wheat. Wheat was bought from Quadra Commodities at $296.89 a tonne C&F. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)