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HAMBURG: European wheat futures in Paris rose on Monday after reports Russia may ban grain exports, possibly shifting demand to the European Union.

Benchmark May wheat on the Paris-based Euronext exchange unofficially closed up 9.25 euros, or 2.4% at 380.00 euros ($417.09) a tonne.

The Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing Russia’s agriculture ministry, that Russia may suspend exports of wheat, barley, maize (corn) and rye starting from Tuesday until June 30.

“It is not clear if and when exports would stop, but clearly if Russia pulls out of the market, demand for European wheat will be harsh,” a French trader said.

Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter, with Egypt and Turkey among the main buyers.

Euronext had fallen earlier on hopes Black Sea region supplies may resume after talks between Russia and Ukraine kindled some optimism about a possible ceasefire.

“You may have good news on the political front; what the market is really looking at is what will be shipped out of the region,” a trader said.

Traders in Poland reported strong export demand for Polish wheat and corn to replace supplies lost from Ukraine and Russia, but with dramatic price swings making trading difficult.

Polish 12.5% protein wheat for delivery to ports up to May was around 1,900 zloty (402 euro) a tonne on Monday, down 200 zloty on highs early last week as Paris futures pulled back from their peaks. “It is very difficult to trade due to very volatile prices,” one Polish trader said. “We see still big interest from international buyers for Polish wheat and corn. After a long pause, large vessels are again loading Polish wheat for export in Poland.”

One ship is loading 50,000 tonnes of wheat believed to be for Saudi Arabia, while other destinations were unclear.

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