UPDATE 1-Algeria buys at least 700,000t wheat in tender-traders

Thu Feb 9, 2012 7:04pm GMT

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By Valerie Parent

PARIS Feb 9 (Reuters) - Algeria bought a surprisingly high volume of milling wheat on Thursday, accelerating its purchases at a time international tensions have led to a surge in demand from countries such as Iran, European traders said.

Algeria's state grains agency OAIC bought at least 700,000 tonnes, and possibly up to one million tonnes, of optional-origin milling wheat at between $300 and $303 per tonne, cost and freight included, the traders said.

Algeria has not made such big purchase since the 800,000 tonnes it bought in late January 2011, during the Arab Spring.

"Algeria may be aware that countries such as Iran and Syria have big needs, prompting it to boost its purchases," one exporter said.

Iran bought at least 600,000 tonnes of wheat recently. To close its grain purchases, the Islamic Republic is bartering gold and oil and/or paying in foreign currency as it steps up efforts to beat sanctions that had started to choke imports of food staples.

Syria, where revolts have turned into a civil war, has issued a new international tender to purchase 100,000 tonnes of soft milling wheat after failing to purchase grains in its two previous tenders, traders said on Thursday.

"Algeria has more needs. In this context they are right to hurry," another trader said, adding the price paid was competitive because of the volume purchased.   Continued...

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