UK grain trade sluggish as ever;

Friday, 16 January, 1998

By FWi staff

WORLD wheat markets are showing increased activity, but trade in British grain remains slow, say traders.

Egypt, Japan and Tunisia all bought significant amounts of wheat from the USA and Argentina this week, according to the Home-Grown Cereals Authority.

And Canadas aggressive selling strategy has spurred interest from other countries looking to source cheap supplies.

On the domestic front, however, deals are few and far between. UK shipping activity is non-existent and most mills report little demand for wheat.

Trade in UK barley continues to lack direction, said Peter Harman of traders SCATS, Winchester. Offers to intervention are expected to top 200,000 tonnes within the next few days.

The strength of Sterling (DM2.988 at 14.40 today) has meant very little grain being offered for sale.

“Trade is still as sluggish as ever and current spot prices are doing nothing to attract interest,” said Chris Barnes of Fengrain, Cambridgeshire.

Some farmers have started focusing on new crop prices, according to Geoffrey Clarke Grain, Suffolk. But prices of £74/ t for wheat sold directly off the combine are little better than this seasons crop.

By mid-afternoon today, ex-farm milling wheat had fallen back below £100/ tonne. Feed wheat was averaging about £73/ tonne; and barley was making about £68/ tonne.

Trade in futures was also quiet. At the close of trade yesterday (Thursday, 15 January), LIFFE wheat contracts were selling for £79.60/ tonne (March); £81.60 (May); £83.75 (July); and £82.50 (November).

LIFFE barley futures closed at £79.90/ tonne for November.

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