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Asia Rice-Price gap widens; buyers turn to Pakistan, Myanmar

* Thai 5 pct broken rice prices advance to $375-$376/T

* Vietnam's 25 pct broken rice near 7-month low

* Indian prices down to $372-$382/T

* Buyers seen turning to Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand

By Ho Binh Minh

HANOI, Sept 7 (Reuters) - The difference in export prices ofa rice variety in Thailand and Vietnam widened this week afterthe two nations won a tender to supply to the Philippines, whilebuyers of Vietnamese and Indian rice turned to cheaper grainsources, traders said.

Thailand and Vietnam are the world's second- andthird-largest rice exporters after India. The gap between their5-percent broken grades has soared 74 percent in the past weekto around $33 per tonne.

Thai benchmark 5-percent broken rice rose to$375-$376 a tonne, free-on-board (FOB) basis, from $370-$375last week, traders said. Benchmark 5-percent broken rice prices inVietnam eased to $340-$345 a tonne, FOB, from $345-$360 lastWednesday. A tender on Aug. 31 has pushed up Thai rice prices, itscommerce ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

A trader in Bangkok said some new orders for old rice andparboiled grain have also boosted prices. "(The rise) will betemporary, as new rice is expected to come out next month," hesaid.

Vietnam will sell 150,000 tonnes of 25 percent broken riceto Manila at $424.85/tonne, including freight, insurance andother costs, after the Aug. 31 tender. Thailand will supply100,000 tonnes at the same price. In Vietnam, export quotations stood at multi-month lows asthe volume to be loaded for Manila was tiny compared withcurrent stocks, while buyers were looking at cheaper grain fromPakistan and Myanmar, traders said.

"Prices in Vietnam even dropped because of high stocks," aVietnamese rice expert based in the Mekong Delta food basketsaid, adding slowing exports this year also meant higherinventory. Vietnam's 25-percent broken rice fell to$330-$335 a tonne this week, the lowest in nearly seven months. "While prices in Vietnam have dropped, buyers are stillattracted by cheap rice in Pakistan, while some can even buy inMyanmar," a trader in Ho Chi Minh City said.

Pakistani 5 percent broken grain stood at $325/tonne, hesaid.

India's 5 percent broken parboiled rice prices eased thisweek to $372-$382/tonne, FOB basis, from $375-$385 in lateOctober as buyers turned to Thailand, traders said.

"Prices are consistently falling due to poor demand," eventhough the Indian rupee strengthened, said an exporter inKakinada, in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The Indian rupee hit a four-month high againstdollar on Wednesday, reducing exporters' earnings. Prospects ofbumper summer-sown crop are also putting pressure on localprices, traders said.

(Reporting Ho Binh Minh in HANOI; Additional reporting byPatpicha Tanakasempipat in BANGKOK and Rajendra Jadhav inMUMBAI; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)

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