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CHICAGO: China bought more US soft red winter wheat, the US government said on Friday, as Chinese buyers increasingly turn to the global market for supplies after rain damaged the nation’s harvest. Recent sales to China are a boost for the US wheat industry, which has struggled with weak exports.

The US Department of Agriculture said exporters sold 181,000 metric tons of soft red winter wheat to China, following another sale of 220,000 metric tons to China last week.

Previously, the US had not reported wheat sales to China in its daily reporting system since July 2021. China is expanding imports after heavy rain hit key growing areas just ahead of the harvest and reduced the quality of the crop, analysts said.

“It left them short on quality milling wheat,” said Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist for broker StoneX. “They’re increasing their import program now to compensate for that.”

Weakness in US wheat prices has recently made US wheat competitive on and off against rival exporters, though abundant supplies in top exporter Russia have kept pressure on the global market. Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures are near a three-year low hit in September.

Last month, importers in China bought large amounts of wheat from France in their first purchases of French wheat for the season, traders said. Australia, the top wheat supplier to China, has suffered crop losses due to dry weather.

Global exporters Canada and Argentina have also grappled with dryness. The USDA on Thursday reduced its global wheat production estimate by about 4 million metric tons to 783.4 million metric tons.

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