FOB Gulf Grain-Wheat premiums steady as price drop stirs demand

Jan 10 (Reuters) - Wheat export premiums at the U.S. Gulf
Coast held mostly steady on Friday amid moderate buying interest
from importers following a steep drop in prices, traders said.
    * Benchmark wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade
 plunged 2.6 percent on Friday after the U.S. Department of
Agriculture raised its U.S. and global wheat stocks outlooks
above trade expectations.
    * The futures price drop ignited demand from routine buyers
in Latin America and Asia, some of it for shipment in the next
marketing year that starts in June, traders said.
* But despite the drop in prices, traders did not believe soft red winter wheat would compete for a share of the latest tender by Egypt's GASC, which was seeking grain shipped Feb 11-20. Traders said Gulf loading capacity was too tight for exporters to offer wheat for that period. * Brazilian demand for U.S. hard red winter wheat for near term shipment rose this week. The country, which normally sources most of its wheat from Argentina, booked at least two to as many as six HRW cargoes this week, its most active buying in at least a month, traders said. * Corn export premiums at the Gulf were flat on sluggish demand and tight nearby loading capacity at export terminals. * Export premiums for corn, soybeans and SRW wheat were ill-defined for January shipments from the Gulf as loading capacity was sold out. Some export elevators were also not quoting February shipments because they had no available capacity, traders said. * A 5 percent surge in CBOT corn futures chilled demand on Friday after the USDA unexpectedly cut U.S. corn production and lowered stocks forecasts. * USDA also raised China's 2013/14 corn production forecast by 6 million tonnes and cut its import view by 2 million.
* Lower prices ahead of the USDA report had attracted fresh demand for U.S. corn, including a 60,000-tonne sale to South Korea's KOCOPIA and a 180,000-tonne sale to unknown destinations. * Soybean export premiums were mostly steady, underpinned by tight nearby loading capacity but capped by a looming glut of South American beans. * The soybean harvest was underway in Mato Grosso and Parana, Brazil's top two producing states. But exports were not expected to accelerate for several weeks. * Top soybean importer China has turned its focus to new-crop supplies from both the U.S. and South America. China made a new-crop U.S. soybean purchase for a second consecutive day, booking 216,000 tonnes after buying 110,000 tonnes a day earlier. * China imported a record 63.38 million tonnes of soybeans in 2013, up 8.6 percent from the prior year, preliminary customs data showed. December imports hit 7.4 million tonnes, the highest-ever monthly volume. (Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio)

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