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Spain's grain market slow but prices firm
LISBON , Spain's physical wheat and barley market was slow as farmers held back new crop supply amid downbeat forecasts for the harvest after a recent heatwave, trade sources said on Monday.
"There is a lot of retention of all merchandise due to reports of the harvest not being as good as initially thought. It isn't good, but it's not too bad either," said Pelayo Moreno, president of the Spanish Cereal and Oilseed Trade Association (ACCOE).
"Everybody is playing the numbers game right now, but the issue won't be closed until we begin harvesting maize in September," he added.
Several leading Spanish farmers' unions have predicted that the winter cereals crop will be the same as or even below the 16.3 million tonnes they harvested last year, although many traders expect at least one million tonnes more than last year.
Moreno estimated the harvest of winter-planted barley and wheat was mostly complete in the southern half of Spain, and about 30 percent finished in the northern Duero valley, the country's grain belt.
Most of Spain's durum wheat had been harvested, the only crop in which the country has an exportable surplus and which was being loaded at southern ports.
Imports had also slowed but prices offered at ports held firm due to uncertainty over the size and quality of crops in Britain, which traditionally supplies Spain with feed wheat and barley.
Dealers were focusing on opportunities to settle forward deals.
"There are few deals at the moment, but the market is always short - even with a good harvest - and coverage is minimal. Clients will have to start buying sooner or later," one importer said.
"The harvest may improve slightly, but in other ways we are in a weaker position than last year, when we had cheap prices from eastern Europe (for feed wheat)," he added. "Those prices won't be matched this year."
Spain imported at least 4.9 million tonnes of feed wheat in the marketing year that began in July 2002.
Almost two million came from Ukraine, before the European Union introduced quotas in the new year to restrict shipments from eastern Europe.
Imported feed wheat was quoted in the key north-eastern port of Tarragona at 130-133 euros ($147.8-151.2) a tonne, up from about 118 a year ago.
Dealers reported even less demand for imported barley, but recalled than Spain imported at least 840,000 tonnes in the past marketing year.
Maize demand was limited and prices soft on a mid-year slowdown in animal feed output.
MGR Archive 8.7.2003
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