Sat, 14 Feb 2009
Palm oil futures completed a second weekly gain after stockpiles in Malaysia, the world’s second-biggest producer, dropped to a nine-month low.

Malaysian CPO fell 10 percent in January from December to 1.33 million metric tons, cutting stockpiles by 8.3 percent to 1.83 million tons. The fall in reserves signals production peak may have been reached last year. “We may now be entering a bullish phase with deterioration in stocks, output and yield possible,” Abah Ofon of Standard Chartered PLC said in a report on Friday, adding that January’s data “appear moderately bullish.”

Palm oil for April delivery rose by as 3.5 percent to 1,995 ringgit ($551.71) a metric ton on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange, hitting a one-month high.

Oil palms in Malaysia and Indonesia, the top producers of the vegetable oil, are stressed from last year’s record output, analysts say. Production in January also dropped as rain in the states of Sabah and Sarawak cut yields, Maybank Investment Bank said on Thursday in a report.

Crude palm oil will average 2,150 ringgit a ton this year, Standard Chartered’s Ofon said. The commodity has averaged 1,865 ringgit this year. The price may average 2,500 ringgit a ton by the fourth quarter, he added.

There are signs demand is holding steady. Malaysian palm oil exports have risen 12 percent to 724,148 tons between Jan. 1 and Feb. 10, according to Intertek.

India, the biggest buyer of vegetable oils after China, last month imported 856,690 tons, 87 percent more from a year earlier, the Solvent Extractors’ Association said on Thursday. Purchases in the November-January period almost doubled to 2.09 million tons from a year ago as buyers took advantage of the lower price of palm oil after the Indian government imposed a 20 percent import duty on soybean oil in November, the body said.

Palm oil advanced this week after drought damaged soybean crops in South America.

Soybean oil for March delivery gained as much as 1.15 percent to 33.53 cents in after-hours trading in Chicago.

Soybean oil on an average has been 51 percent more expensive than palm oil since Nov. 18, when India imposed the import tax.

Bloomberg



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