ASIA RICE-Prices steady in most hubs, Bangladesh mulls another import duty cut
* Vietnamese Jan-Feb exports likely down 31.4% y-o-y
* Prices unchanged in India despite volatile rupee
By Anjishnu Mondal
March 4 (Reuters) - Rice export rates held steady in most Asian hubs this week as news supply from fresh harvests trickle in, while Bangladesh mulled another cut to import duties to bolster dwindling domestic reserves.
Thailand's benchmark 5% broken rice <RI-THBKN5-P1> prices widened slightly to $515-$560 per tonne, from $520-$560 last week.
Muted demand, optimism over a new off-season harvest and the weakening of the baht against the U.S. dollar, have pressured prices, Bangkok-based traders said.
Vietnam's 5% broken rice rates <RI-VNBKN5-P1> were unchanged from last week at $505-$510 per tonne.
"This is just nominal price as not many new contracts have been signed recently as importers are still waiting further until the winter-spring harvest peaks," a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.
Meanwhile, domestic rice prices are edging down on rising supplies from the main harvest in the Mekong Delta, traders said.
Vietnam's rice shipments in the January-February period are forecast to drop 31.4% from a year earlier to 638,000 tonnes. .
Bangladesh is considering further slashing duty on rice imports in an effort to bolster reserves and cool record local prices, a food ministry official said.
This would follow a cut to 25% from 62.5% in late December.
Bangladesh, traditionally the world's third-biggest rice producer, has emerged as a big importer lately due to depleted stocks and record prices after repeated flooding ravaged its crop.
Prices for India's 5 percent broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> were steady at $393-$399 per tonne amid rising supplies from the new season crop.
"Rupee has been quite volatile in the last few days. We are keeping prices steady, but we have to raise if rupee appreciates further," said an exporter based at Kakinada in southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
Shipments from India have gained momentum as the state of Andhra Pradesh has started using a deepwater port to export rice for the first time in decades. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Patpicha Tanakasempipat in Bangkok and Ruma Paul in Dhaka; additional reporting by Bharat Govind Gautam; Editing by Arpan Varghese and Shailesh Kuber)
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