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PARIS: Euronext grain futures surged again on Tuesday with front-month wheat and maize setting new record highs, as the market faced up to a prolonged disruption to Black Sea exports following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The six-day-old war has closed Ukrainian ports and prompted unprecedented Western financial sanctions against Russia, leaving crop buyers rushing to seek alternative supply sources.

Russia and Ukraine together account for approximately 30% of world wheat exports, 20% of corn exports and 80% of sunflower oil exports.

Benchmark May wheat on Paris-based Euronext settled up 24.75 euros, or 7.8%, at 340.25 euros ($378.12) a tonne.

The less active March contract, which expires next week, hit an all-time record for Euronext at 352.25 euros, before settling 8.9% higher at 351.25 euros.

In maize (corn), the most active June futures ended up 5.7% at 307.50 euros a tonne. Spot March futures earlier set an all-time high for the market at 340.00 euros.

Buyers have been booking some wheat and maize from Romania, Bulgaria and France to replace Ukrainian supplies, pushing up physical premiums on top of the surge in futures, according to traders.

“It’s becoming a big issue - the run-up in physical prices,” another trader said. “You can’t imagine all the enquiries in France as buyers look for alternatives.”

However, the European Union is seen as having limited scope to replace a potential shortfall of millions of tonnes of Ukrainian and also Russian grain in the coming months, as well as feared damage to harvest prospects in war-torn Ukraine.

Egyptian state buyer GASC on Monday cancelled a second wheat import tender in a row as offers were sparse.

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