By Joanna Newman

THERE has been no good news to cheer wheat producers this week and prices have drifted lower in recent days.

The Chicago March futures contract lost ground to close at 251.75¢/bushel on Tuesday (23 February), down from 252.25¢/bushel a week ago.

Leading the downward trend is the poor situation on the export front, where US players face fierce competition from Europe.

Volumes are running at slow levels, especially for the oversupplied soft red winter wheat variety.

But one bright spot has been news of another US sale to Egypt this week, comprising 120,000 tonnes of the soft red winter variety and 60,000 tonnes of soft wheat.

Domestic producers are still absorbing last weeks US Department of Agriculture warning that the nations wheat stocks could swell to nearly a billion bushels this year from 722 million last year.

This will scarcely be dented next year, according to a new long-term outlook report from the USDA.

In the crop year 1999-2000, ending wheat stocks will shrink only slightly from the 1 billion bushel mark to 801 million, helped by a cut in acreage from 65.9 million to 62.5 million acres.

  • Click here for current Chicago wheat prices