International futures markets picked up in the past week.

The turn began on Wednesday of last week and was influenced by the cold in the US and recent decisions in Russia.

The promise to provide the Russian army with anything they need, plus fresh talks with Belarus have unsettled markets.

Who knows what a resurgence of the Russian invasion through Belarus would do to this war?

In recent weeks the Black Sea trade corridor has acted as a negative influence on price sentiment, both in terms of price and availability.

The MATIF December 2023 wheat market had been hovering around €277.75/t in recent times.

On Wednesday of Christmas week they began to rise and closed that day at €283.25.

The price dropped back slightly on the following day to €282/t but then increased to €287.75/t for Friday’s close.

On Tuesday of this week the close price had increased to €290.50/t.

Market pressures

There can be little doubt but that concerns for the future of the Black Sea corridor are influential in market sentiment.

If this were to cease there would be real availability concerns.

Just prior to Christmas the Russian government announced that it would increase its export tariffs on wheat, maize and barley exports from 28 December through to 10 January.

Holidays was the official reason stated but this may also be a measure to try to manage internal wheat price as its currency saw new lows recently.

The export tax levels are set at roughly €53.56/t for wheat, €44.56/t for barley and the tax on maize was somewhat lower again but this had previously been at zero level.

Cold in the US

Cold in the US has also been a factor in markets over the past week as logistics suffer and there are fears for damage to winter wheat crops.

This has caused wheat prices in Chicago to rise and CBOT maize prices rose sharply in response.

Native prices

The general trend towards stronger sentiment has also helped physical prices. Nominal figures for nearby positions suggest wheat at around €315/t and barley a tad above €300/t.

New crop positions are also up with wheat now around €300/t and barley closer to €290/t.