China seen ramping up wheat imports after rain hurts crop

BEIJING. July 22. KAZINFORM China may boost wheat purchases from Australia by 67 percent this year, said grain handler Emerald Group Australia Pty, adding to signs that imports by the largest user will jump after rains hurt domestic crops. Prices advanced.

Shipments may reach 2 million metric tons in the 12 months started July 1 compared with about 1.2 million tons a year earlier, Brian Dalitz, general manager of trading and marketing at the Melbourne-based company, said in an interview.

Increased buying may help to absorb record global supplies and support prices in Chicago that have tumbled into a bear market. China may more than double imports to 8.5 million tons in 2013-14, the highest since 1995-96, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. That would rank the country second among buyers after Egypt, compared with 16th the previous season, and offer opportunities for shippers from Australia to Russia.

"There's likely going to be more demand for milling-quality wheat into China this year," said Graydon Chong, a grains and oilseed analyst at Rabobank International in Sydney. "We certainly will see competition."

Wheat for September delivery gained as much as 0.9 percent to $6.6675 a bushel today on the Chicago Board of Trade, and was at $6.625 by 4:51 a.m. local time, Kazinform has learnt from Bloomberg. Most-active prices in Chicago have lost 29 percent over the past year, and touched the lowest since June 2012 this month. By contrast, futures on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange touched a two-year high this week.

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