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UPDATE 2-Russia's weekly grain exports jump, SovEcon ups March estimate

Polina Devitt

* Russia's exports of wheat from ports up 30% from week earlier

* SovEcon may upgrade forecast for sunflower seeds exports

* Only 2-4% of Russia's winter grains are in poor state

(Adds details, quotes, context) MOSCOW, March 16 (Reuters) - Grain exports from Russia, the world's largest wheat exporter, rose sharply last week as the rouble weakened against the dollar, agriculture consultancy SovEcon said on Monday, citing data from ports. Russian wheat export prices in dollars fell steeply and for the seventh week running last week after a slump in global oil prices and concerns about the spread of the coronavirus pressed the rouble to a four-year lows against the dollar. Russia's wheat exports from ports rose by 30% from a week earlier to 725,000 tonnes, SovEcon said, adding it had upgraded its estimate for Russia's March grain exports to 3.4 million tonnes from 2.1 million. The destinations with higher supplies were not immediately clear. Turkey, Egypt and Bangladesh are traditionally the largest buyers of Russian wheat. Russian wheat with 12.5% protein content loaded from Black Sea ports fell by $6 to $207 a tonne free on board (FOB) at the end of last week, SovEcon said. Barley was steady at $181 a tonne. IKAR, another consultancy in Moscow, also pegged wheat at $207 a tonne, down $5. Russia sees no need to trigger a grain export duty, which is currently at zero, the agriculture ministry said last week.

"We do not expect any serious measures from the AgMin, at least in the short-term, but we could see more verbal interventions targeted at cooling down the market or slowing down the exports," SovEcon said. Rouble prices in the domestic wheat market rose sharply, SovEcon said, adding supply was limited as farmers were holding back on sales. SovEcon also said it could upgrade its estimate of this year's sunflower seed exports by 200,000 tonnes to 1.2 million tonnes as additional demand is coming up. Winter grains in Russia are in a healthy state with only 2-4% of them in a poor condition compared with 5% in 2019, SovEcon said, citing data from the state weather forecaster. Dry weather in parts of Russia, however, means that rains are needed. Other Russian data provided by SovEcon and IKAR:

Product: Price at the end Change from weekof last week: earlier- Domestic 3rd 12,250 rbls/t +175 rblsclass wheat, ($164)

European part of Russia, excludes delivery (SovEcon)

- Sunflower seeds 18,950 rbls/t +50 rbls

(SovEcon)

- Domestic 44,700 rbls/t unchanged

sunflower oil (SovEcon)

- export sunflower $640/t -$45

oil (SovEcon)

- white sugar, $347.2/t -$0.3

Russia's south (IKAR) ($1 = 74.7650 roubles)

(Reporting by Polina Devitt; editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter)

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