Advice is to sell as wheat prices rise

23 Dec, 2014 01:00 AM
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The market has been rallying on that expectation.

WHEAT prices above $300 a tonne is hard to ignore for WA farmers.

And the advice of CHS trading manager Chris Brown is to take advantage of the strong price, but be aware there could be further increases.

He attributes this prediction to a situation in Russia where its government is restricting wheat exports without making an outright announcement of their intentions.

"The cash prices haven't responded that much in Australia yet, but the futures have responded quite spectacularly," Mr Brown said.

"I think it's our view that cash prices will gain support out of this evolving story in Russia.

"The market is waiting for a conclusive announcement from Russia that they're going to restrict exports or going to prevent so many million tonne from leaving the country.

"The market has been rallying on that expectation.

"There's nothing conclusive or any clarity from Russia, but what we're seeing is that they're using other ways such as an export tax and export ban.

"Even if it doesn't become official, what appears to be going on is the restricting of grain through other measures.

"The global buyers will have to look for other sources to rely on and that's when the support will come through in Australia's pricing."

Mr Brown said prior to Russia developing as an issue for wheat supply, Australian prices were already strong despite large global stocks of the commodity.

"Certainly in terms of outright levels there is plenty of wheat in the world," he said.

"What we did have was quite a lot of downgrading of wheat in Europe this year. The US has also had problems with some of its wheat grades as well, particularly in the soft red wheat crop.

"However, it's largely a European story that the rains they had through western Europe while harvesting the crop has affected a large amount of their supply."

Mr Brown said when taking into account the cost of producing one tonne of grain in WA, growers could seriously consider selling grain when prices reached above $300/t.

MarketAg director Richard Vincent said the global situation had grown local grower confidence.

"Local cash and swap prices have lifted to where the potential profitability of WA farm business receives a big shot of confidence," Mr Vincent said.

"As we enter the budget and planning period for Wheatbelt farmers, to have cereal prices for next year at decile 8 levels (top 20 per cent of price) is very encouraging.

"In a reasonable proportion of the State, business equity levels have been boosted in the last two seasons and interest costs have subsided.

"The profit margins available at current prices and say a 10-year average yield, are reasonable.

"Hopefully, the traditional northern hemisphere weather market during our autumn will provide further opportunities for sales."

Mr Vincent said growers had also changed their sentiment towards swaps over cash pricing.

"The benefits of swaps, over cash pricing, are now being reconsidered and more clients are using swaps for managing risks," he said.

"The recent basis levels within 2015 cash prices are historically very cheap, and it is this opportunity which makes people consider the use of swaps more carefully.

"Swaps have the advantage of more flexibility over delivery risk, as well as basis management.

"One thing is for sure, no one can predict price moves, so developing your grain marketing plan based on profit is a critical decision regardless of whether swaps or other selling methods are used."

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