* Fears wheat exports could push up bread prices in Ukraine
* Ukraine ministry warns on stocks available for export
* U.S., European wheat futures rise on report
(Adds statement from Egypt's GASC in paragraphs 8-9)
By Pavel Polityuk
KIEV, Oct 19 Traders said on Friday that
Ukraine's agriculture ministry would ban exports of wheat from
Nov. 15 after bad weather hit the harvest, pushing up global
wheat futures prices even though traders had expected the move.
The ministry, however, is sticking to its earlier formula of
allowing traders to export up to a total of 5 million tonnes of
wheat in the current season, the trading sources said.
It was unclear whether the Nov. 15 cut-off point would apply
to the signing of export contracts or would mean an immediate
halt to physical shipments of wheat.
The wheat harvest has been down by a third this year because
of bad weather, and grain traders, suspecting an imminent curb
on exports, have been rushing to speed up shipments abroad.
"This comes as no surprise. The ban was inevitable.
Everybody knew and everybody has understood," said one major
Ministry officials could not be reached for comment.
The ministry later said in a statement that the high pace of
wheat exports would exhaust stocks of Ukrainian wheat available
for shipping abroad by Nov. 15-20, and it urged traders to be
cautious in concluding new contracts.
Such a timeline appeared to put at risk a wheat purchase by
Egypt's GASC, the main state wheat buyer in Egypt, which is the
world's top importer of the grain. The group bought 55,000
tonnes of Ukrainian origin wheat in mid-September as part of a
larger tender purchase for shipment Nov. 21-30.
"There has not yet been any official notification by the
Ukrainian government to issue an export ban, and such talk is
being said by traders seeking to increase prices," said Nomani
Nomani, vice chairman of GASC.
Ukraine's agriculture ministry said traders had doubled
monthly wheat exports this season compared with last year's
level to about 1.3 million tonnes per month.
It said traders had already signed contracts to export a
total of 5.4 million tonnes -- more than the agreed 5 million
Traders "need to carefully approach continuing concluding
contracts," the ministry said.
According to its data, Ukraine exported a total of 7.1
million tonnes of grain as of Oct.18, including 3.57 million
tonnes of wheat, 1.44 million tonnes of barley and 2.01 million
tonnes of maize.
Farm Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk has said that Ukraine
would consider imposing limits if the high level of exports
threatened to push up the price of bread at home.
The move drove up U.S. and European wheat futures by more
than 1 percent.
"You saw the initial reaction of the market, it was higher,
but we're off the highs, so I don't think it's a surprise that
there's some sort of restriction out of Ukraine, the market has
been anticipating this," a European trader said.
"Last week we had someone from the ministry going up to 5
million tonnes. I still think it's the 5 million tonnes number,
after which they will say, OK, it's done," he added.
Ukraine, which consumes 12 million tonnes of wheat,
harvested 15.5 million tonnes in clean weight this year.
According to traders, it has exported about 3.5 million
tonnes of wheat so far this season, and the former Soviet
republic has enough port capacity to export an additional 1.5
(Additional reporting by Sarah McFarlane in London and Yasmine
Saleh in Cairo; editing by Jane Baird and Leslie Adler)