Wheat hits 14-year highs as Russia-Ukraine conflict curbs supply

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US wheat futures gapped higher on Monday, notching a limit-up move as it neared an all-time high on concerns that global supply shipments will be disrupted until the Russia-Ukraine conflict is resolved.

European wheat has already hit record highs as deepening Western sanctions against Russia fuelled concerns about exports from the Black Sea region. The two countries combined account for about 29% of wheat exports.

“Nothing has changed,” said Greg Grow, director of agribusiness at Archer Financial Services in Chicago. “We know that Ukraine and Russia are going to be dearly missed in the wheat sector.”

Soybean futures also were firm, supported by strength in the global vegetable oil market as overseas buyers scrambled to find replacements for exports of sunflower oil from Ukraine.

But corn futures were weaker, easing from the 9-1/2-year high hit on Friday after some rains in key growing areas of South America.

At 11:20 a.m. CST (1720 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade May soft red winter wheat futures were up the expanded 85-cent daily trading limit at $12.94 a bushel, the highest in 14 years. Wheat’s all-time high of $13.49-1/2 was hit on February 27, 2008.

Export demand for European Union wheat surged last week and is expected to continue to rise with Ukrainian ports closed and dealers reluctant to trade Russian wheat.

“With such a sudden run on other sources, there is worry that some countries will introduce export restrictions to stop their own domestic supplies being sucked away,” a trader said.

The US Agriculture Department said that weekly US export inspections of wheat totalled 343 000 tonnes down from 430 000 tonnes last week.

CBOT May soybeans were up 1 cent at $16.61-1/2 a bushel and CBOT May corn was down 8-3/4 cents at $7.4-51/2 a bushel.