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Export prices of wheat declined in February, while those of maize increased

International cereal prices

Export prices of wheat generally declined in February, with the benchmark US wheat (No.2 Hard Red Winter, f.o.b.) averaging USD 235 per tonne, slightly down from its level in January and moderately lower than the corresponding month last year. After some increases early in February, prices declined in the remainder of the month on account of a slower-than-expected pace in sales and overall good global production prospects. In the European Union, prices also declined and at a steeper rate, although they remained higher than a year earlier. By contrast, in Argentina, export prices of wheat averaged higher in February compared to January, but showed signs of decline during the month following a slowdown in demand and trends in the international market.

Export prices of maize from most origins increased further in February. The benchmark US maize (No.2, Yellow, f.o.b.) averaged USD 170 per tonne, slightly higher than in January and nearly 4 percent above its level in February last year. Prices were supported by shipping disruptions, due to adverse weather, and solid export sales. In Ukraine, export prices of maize averaged slightly higher than in January mainly due to strong demand early in the month, particularly from the European Union. In South America, prices increased in Brazil due to solid demand, while they declined in Argentina on expectations of a bumper harvest this year.

The FAO All Rice Price Index (2002-04=100) averaged 223 points in February, virtually unchanged from January, as declines in the prices of Indica rice were offset by higher prices of medium grain rice. Prices of Indica white rice declined across much of Asia, as fresh demand remained limited. In Viet Nam, new crop arrivals from the winter-spring harvest compounded on the sluggish pace of trade. Efforts to attract sales also lowered prices in Thailand and Pakistan, while in India, prices declined as a result of currency depreciation and improved prospects for the Rabi crop. In the major South American exporters, quiet trading activities capped the upward pressure from seasonal tightness and poor prospects for 2019 harvests, now underway. In the United States of America, prices of long grain rice dipped to an 18-month low on thin buying interest.