* North American potash inventories slip further in Jan.
* Stocks at producer level now 24 pct below 5-yr average
(Adds analyst comment, details on share price move)
TORONTO Feb 16 North American potash
inventories at the producer level tightened further in January
ahead of the spring planting season in the region, according to
data issued by Potash Corp (POT.N) late on Tuesday.
The announcement lifted shares of Potash Corp and other
North American fertilizer makers. Analysts said tighter
inventories would help producers push through price increases
in overseas markets.
Shares of Potash Corp rose 1.5 percent in New York, while
shares Mosaic Co (MOS.N) and Agrium Inc (AGU.N) rose more than
Potash Corp, the world's largest producer of the crop
nutrient, said the latest industry data in North America
indicates inventories fell nearly 85,000 tonnes in January.
Inventories of the nutrient, which helps improve a plant's
disease resistance and crop quality and increases yields, are
now 24 percent below the prior five-year average.
The data from the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company
also indicated the average price of potash, while trending
upward continues to hover just below the $400 a tonne mark.
Analysts noted that current market fundamentals indicate
that India -- one of the world's largest potash importers -- is
unlikely to be able to settle on a new potash contract this
year at a price below $400 a tonne.
Chinese potash buyers recently agreed on a six month
contract to import potash at $400 a tonne from Russian and
Canadian exporters. The Chinese and Indian contracts are
closely watched as spot market prices are typically pegged at a
level slightly above these contract prices.
India is expected to import over 5 million tonnes of the
nutrient this year and new import contracts are likely to be
signed in March, or April. [ID:nSGE7180D3]
The data also indicates that di-ammonium phosphate stocks
in the region rose by 107,000 tonnes in January, but
inventories of the phosphate-based nutrient continue to lag the
prior 5-year average by 25 percent.
(Reporting by Euan Rocha; editing by Janet Guttsman)