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China stirred up the wheat market

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After the USDA reported on Monday that China had purchased 440,000 tonnes of grain - the largest single export sale of US wheat to China since at least 2020, the department yesterday also confirmed private sales of 198,000 tonnes of US soft red winter wheat for China, completed on Tuesday.

The selling supported the wheat market, where speculators and funds hold a huge net short position, making it susceptible to periods of short covering and, on the other hand, pushing prices higher.

Supporting that is the fact that after the news sent prices to their highest level since August for two days, Chicago wheat futures fell again on Wednesday.

U.S. sales to China this week brought the total since early October to 1.15 million tons, StoneX analyst Arlan Suderman said.

Meanwhile, European Union soft wheat exports since the start of the 2023/24 season in July reached 12.52 million tonnes as of Dec. 3, down 18 percent year-on-year, according to EU data.

Elsewhere in the world, wheat production in Australia is expected to be slightly higher than expected this season, but recent heavy rainfall along the east coast is likely to have reduced the quality of the non-harvested crop.

The government has marginally raised its forecasts for wheat, barley and canola production for the 2023-24 crop, which is still expected to be lower than the previous record season, according to a December report by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and sciences.

The world wheat market is still struggling with the fallout from Russia's war in Ukraine, despite forecasts of a bumper crop in some regions. Major buyers of Australian grain typically include Indonesia and China, which may need more imports this year after rain reduced their own crops.

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