Asia rice-prices mostly soften on thin demand

Rice export prices in India and Vietnam weakened this week on thin demand.

* India rice prices extend falls

* Thai 5-pct broken rice prices widen to $360-$365/T

* Vietnamese rice prices weaken as buyers absent

By Ho Binh Minh

HANOI, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Rice export prices in India and Vietnam weakened this week on thin demand, but still failed to attract buyers, while prices widened in Thailand during a slowing harvest, traders said on Wednesday.

India's 5-percent broken parboiled rice prices dropped $1 this week to $347-$351 per tonne, free-on-board (FOB) basis, due to sluggish demand from African buyers, though supplies were limited due to a cash crunch, they said.

"We are not able to sign any big new deals. Prices are firm in the local market due to limited supply. At this level, finding buyers is difficult," said an exporter based in Kakinada, a city in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

He said Thailand and Vietnam, which trail India in global rice exports, were offering more competitive prices.

India's summer-sown rice output is seen at a record 93.88 million tonnes in the crop year to June 2017, a 2.81 percent rise from the year earlier, the farm ministry has said.

Vietnamese rice prices also eased this week as buyers were absent, traders said.

The 5-percent broken rice prices eased to $335-$340 a tonne, FOB basis, from $340-$350 last Wednesday, traders said.

"Vietnam's competitiveness is lower than Thailand's now," a trader in Ho Chi Minh City said.

Thai's benchmark 5-percent broken rice prices widened to $360-$365 a tonne on Wednesday, FOB basis, from $360 last week, but a trader in Bangkok said prices would remain stable as harvest was slowing.

Another trader said the gap in prices of Thai and Vietnamese rice could be a disadvantage.

"It's quite a big gap," he said. "Vietnam could easily attract buyers."

Thailand's rice exports are on track to meet the 2016 target of 9.5 million tonnes, the commerce ministry has said.

The average price of Thai 5-percent broken rice in January-November of 2016 rose 2.5 percent from a year ago to $398/tonne, FOB basis, while that of Vietnamese 5-percent broken rice edged down 0.8 percent in the same period to $349/tonne, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said in its December report.

(Reporting Ho Binh Minh in HANOI; Additional reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat in BANGKOK and Rajendra Jadhav in MUMBAI; Editing by Vyas Mohan) ((; +844 3825 9623; Reuters Messaging:

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