WASHINGTON (B)--USDA Feb. 8 raised its forecast for Australian wheat production and exports in 2000 to 2001--in line with the expectation of some analysts--and lowered its forecast of China's 2000 to 2001 wheat imports, according to the departments monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.

The forecast for 2000 to 2001 Australian wheat output is now pegged at 20.5 million tonnes from 19.5 million forecast in January, while the export forecast is up slightly at 15.5 million tonnes from 15 million last month.

USDA also lowered its forecast for U.S. wheat exports in 2000-10 to 29.94 million tonnes (1.1 billion bushels) from the January forecast of 30.62 million tonnes (1.125 billion bushels) while leaving unchanged its forecast for the 2000-01 U.S. wheat harvest at 60.51 million tonnes (2.223 billion bushels).

The forecast for China's wheat output in 2000-01 also remain unchanged at 102 million tonnes, but USDA has lowered its forecast for Chinese wheat imports to 1 million tonnes from January's 1.5 million "due to slow purchases to date."

USDA said lower Chinese wheat imports will be made-up elsewhere, but the 2000 to 2001 import forecasts for other major wheat buyers remain unchanged. USDA has lowered its forecast for world wheat ending stocks for 2000 to 2001 to 108.89 million tonnes from the January forecast of 109.85 million.

USDA has also narrowed its forecast for 2000-01 U.S. wheat prices five cents on either end to $2.60 to $2.70 per bushel.

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