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Export Prices of Wheat and Maize Dropped in March, while those of Rice were Firmer

Export prices of wheat declined in March, with the benchmark US wheat (No.2 Hard Red Winter, f.o.b.) averaging USD 224 per tonne, nearly 5 percent down from its level in February and 9 percent lower than the corresponding month last year. The general decline in wheat export price quotations is the result of ample nearby supplies and overall good 2019 global production prospects. In the United States of America, low demand for exports also weighed on prices and offset the upward pressure from concerns over the less than ideal weather conditions for planting of the spring crop, about to start. Export prices of maize also declined in March after a general increase in February.

The benchmark US maize (No.2, Yellow, f.o.b.) averaged USD 167 per tonne, about 2 percent down from the previous month and nearly 3 percent below its level in March last year. The US prices fell under downward pressure, on higher than earlier anticipated inventories and weaker sales. However, concerns over delayed, or even reduced, spring plantings as well as logistical constraints, both posed by the Midwest flooding, limited the decline in prices. In Ukraine, export prices fell amid strong export competition, while in South America, the decline in prices mostly reflected the good production prospects.

The FAO All Rice Price Index (2002-04=100) averaged 221.7 points in March, up 0.5 percent from February, mainly due to higher prices of lower quality Indica and Japonica rice. In Asia, the absence of substantial orders from countries such as Bangladesh, China and Indonesia, kept prices of Indica rice in check, or even lowered them as was the case in Thailand. In India, a Rupee appreciation lifted prices to their highest level since August 2018. State efforts encouraging local purchases of freshly-harvested "winter-spring" rice also underpinned a partial recovery in Vietnamese offers, whereas sales to China and regular East African outlets lent support to Pakistani prices. In the United States of America, long grain price quotations changed little, while values weakened in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay due to a combination of factors, namely harvest pressure, currency depreciations and limited demand.


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