* Australia sells wheat to Indonesia, Malaysia
* Indian soymeal prices rise on stronger rupee
* Spread between Indian-LatAm soymeal narrows
By Naveen Thukral
SINGAPORE, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Australian exporters sold wheat to millers in Indonesia and Malaysia this week, while a strengthening Indian rupee lifted soymeal prices for exports from the South Asian country.
New-crop Australian standard wheat was quoted around $300-$310 a tonne, including cost and freight to Southeast Asia, up around $10 from last week. Australian prime wheat was being offered around $315-$317 a tonne and Australian hard wheat at $330 a tonne.
“Australian wheat has been traded in Southeast Asia in the last few days as prices are firming up on strong global demand,” said one Singapore-based trader.
Chicago wheat futures have gained almost 5 percent this week, its biggest weekly gain in 14 months, driven by strong global demand for the grain.
U.S. exporters loaded and shipped more wheat last week to global buyers than in any week in at least the past 23 years, with most of the grain headed for China and Brazil, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
Exporters shipped 1.204 million tonnes of U.S. wheat in the week ended Sept. 12, including 406,700 tonnes of mostly soft red winter wheat and white wheat to China, and 186,400 tonnes of hard red winter wheat to Brazil, data going back to 1990 showed.
Australian wheat is also in strong demand as its spread with Black Sea wheat has narrowed in Asia, traders said. Australian standard wheat is selling at premium of $12-$15 to Black Sea wheat, down from a spread of $30 a tonne a couple of weeks ago.
“Mills in Southeast Asian will any day prefer Australian wheat to Black Sea wheat at the current price difference,” said one Sydney-based trader.
Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture bought 108,901 tonnes of food wheat from the United States, Canada and Australia in a regular tender this week.
In the feed grains market, Indian soymeal was being offered for export this week at higher prices as the rupee strengthened against the dollar.
Indian soymeal has risen to $515 a tonne, free alongside ship, compared with $500-$505 last week, while rival South American soymeal values have eased following a decline in the U.S. futures.
U.S. soymeal futures slid more than 5 percent this week, tracking weakness in the soybean market, which lost ground on forecasts for crop-friendly weather that is expected to aid the development of late-planted soybeans.
The Indian rupee hit its highest in nearly five weeks on Thursday, as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision not to dial back its easy money policy is expected to provide a reprieve to the local central bank in its policy making.
This has narrowed the spread between Indian and South American soymeal prices to around $20 a tonne from $35 a tonne last week.
“Indian soymeal is still attractive but the firming rupee has eroded its attractiveness,” said another Singapore-based grains trader. “Buyers will still take Indian meal but sales might slow down.”
Asian grain buyers are keeping a close watch on U.S. corn and soybean harvests, which are likely to influence prices. “People are looking at yields from early harvests and corn looks to be every good,” the first Singapore trader said. (Editing by Tom Hogue)