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PARIS: Euronext front-month wheat futures pared gains in late trading on Friday after touching a 7-1/2 year high fuelled by short-covering in a market facing tightening physical supplies.

March milling wheat on Euronext added as much as 2.2% to 242.75 euros ($294.63) a tonne, the highest front-month price since May 2013.

By 1658 GMT it was up 0.2% at 238.00 euros a tonne as a fall in US futures curbed gains on Euronext.

May futures on Euronext were up 0.2% at 226.75 euros, after reaching a four-week high of 229 euros, while new-crop delivery months were slightly lower.

Some market participants had covered positions after the closing of options against March futures last Monday and ahead of the futures expiry next month, traders said.

“It’s very technical futures trading, there’s nothing much happening on the physical market,” a French trader said, adding that it could make French wheat less competitive for export and limit outflows when domestic buyers need the grain.

Euronext had already reached a 7-1/2 year high last month, supported by strong international demand driven by China and concern over declining wheat stocks in Europe.

A new wave of import tenders has highlighted continued demand at a time when export taxes planned by Moscow have cast doubt over Russian shipments.

“Tenders from the likes of Pakistan and Tunisia could suck more supplies out of the EU,” a German trader said.

Volatility on Euronext, higher freight rates and supplies from a bumper Australian harvest could nonetheless cool demand for European wheat.

“We are also facing hurdles with the very sharp rise in ocean shipping markets this week,” the German trader said.

“But German ports remain very busy, with loadings for Algeria and other African destinations dominating in coming weeks.”

Standard bread wheat with 12% protein for March delivery in Hamburg was offered for sale at about 9 euros over Paris May , compared with Thursday’s 11 euros over, to compensate for rising Paris futures.

Premiums were nominal at various points during the day because of volatility on Euronext.