Prices of rice exported from Vietnam rose to a two-month high this week as market activity picked up again following the holidays, while low demand kept Indian rates near a one-month low.
Vietnam's 5% broken rice was offered at $400 per tonne on Thursday, the highest since mid-December and up from $395 a week ago.
"Prices have edged up slightly as trading activity is resuming following the Lunar New Year Holiday and demand is seen picking up," a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said, adding that traders were buying moderate amounts from farmers ahead of the upcoming winter-spring harvest.
Some traders said they will be joining a tender issued by South Korea's state-backed Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp to purchase an estimated 72,200 tonnes of rice.
Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety was unchanged at $368-$374 per tonne, holding near the lowest in more than a month as demand was muted from key buyers.
"White rice buyers are shifting to Myanmar and Pakistan because of lower prices," said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.
Indian farmers are likely to harvest a record 127.93 million tonnes, compared with 124.37 million tonnes the year before.
Meanwhile, rain-fed rice output in neighbouring Bangladesh is expected to rise to 15 million tonnes this year, as farmers raised acreage to cash in on higher prices and favourable weather, according to the country's Agriculture Ministry.
But despite the good crops and reserves, Bangladesh has been battling high domestic prices of the staple.
Thailand's 5% broken rice prices were quoted at $410-$420 per tonne, up from $407-$415 last week, mainly due to a change in the exchange rate, traders said, with the baht having gained 1.7% versus the dollar from Feb. 11 till Thursday.
But a Bangkok-based trader said prices could soon weaken as the off-season harvest begins.