By FWi staff

BRUSSELS officials surprised European grain traders yesterday (Thursday) by granting the largest amount of wheat export refunds for over a year.

Cereal Management Committee officials gave the go-ahead for exports totalling 444,000 tonnes at a rate of Ecu21.97/ tonne. Old-crop wheat futures in London climbed 65-75p to £76.50/ t (May), and £78.50/ t (June). New-crop futures gained 40p to £76.00/ t with following months £2/ t higher.

Trade sources say that yesterdays exceptional quantity of refunds was granted to cover an Algerian order placed for 225,000 tonnes of wheat, probably from Germany. But other analysts say that EU officials are battling against aggressive sales from Turkey.

The majority of yesterdays bid for refunds was placed in France. The award means EU-origin wheat continues to be competitively priced on the world market at about $113/ tonne (£70/ t).

All bids for barley export refunds were rejected yesterday. Restitution is the system used by Brussels to export uncompetitively priced EU wheat on to expensive world markets.