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PARIS: Euronext wheat rose on Friday as continuing tensions between Russia and Ukraine kept attention on possible disruption to Black Sea grain shipments. March wheat on Paris-based Euronext was up 5.75 euros, or 2.2%, at 267.25 euros ($304.56) a tonne by 1547 GMT.

The contract had again found chart support around the 260 euro and $300 equivalent levels after a late fall on Thursday, traders said. Comments by US officials put the focus back on the risk of conflict, with President Joe Biden urging US citizens to leave Ukraine and Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying a Russian invasion could occur at any time.

Moscow has denied it plans to invade Ukraine. Traders said on Friday that Russian naval drills were not yet affecting Ukrainian grain exports, although the market was watching to see what occurs next week when restrictions on navigation are scheduled.

“You’re seeing two distinct markets,” Nathan Cordier of consultancy Agritel said. “The futures market is reacting very nervously to headlines, in contrast to the physical market.”

Continuing competition from Ukrainian and Russian wheat in international markets, as well as stalled French sales to Algeria, have curbed western European exports. Consultancy Strategie Grains cut its forecast for EU soft wheat exports in 2021/22.

Aside from ongoing demand from Morocco, French wheat was seen as best placed to capture extra exports within the European Union as rising maize prices made wheat more attractive for livestock feed makers, traders said. In Poland, prices fell this week on slow exports and the belief that inventories on farms remained large.

Exporter purchase offers for Polish 12.5% protein wheat fell about 55 zloty on the week to around 1,240 zloty (274.5 euros) a tonne for February/March delivery to ports. “Poland’s exports are very slack,” one Polish trader said, and estimated only 100,000 tonnes of wheat were shipped via Polish ports in January, with less expected in February.

The trader said only one large vessel was loading wheat in Poland and it was bound for Spain rather than a non-EU country. Polish millers lowered purchase offers for 12.5% protein wheat by 10-20 zloty to around 1,220-1,280 for nearby delivery, depending on the region.

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