(Updated)

Indonesian rupiah plumbs eight-month low on palm oil export ban

Indonesian rupiah plumbs eight-month low on palm oil export ban
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BENGALURU (April 25): Indonesia's rupiah fell to an eight-month low on Monday and led losses among major Southeast Asian currencies after the country announced a ban on palm oil exports on Friday, sparking a rally in the shares of vegetable oil producers in competing nations.

The rupiah weakened 0.7% and was on track for its steepest drop since June 2021. The country's benchmark stock index cut early losses and was last down 0.1%, with some of the country's top palm oil companies trading sharply lower.

Indonesia's ban on palm oil exports, which will take effect on April 28, "will likely push up global food costs and will last until the... government deems domestic supply as stable", analysts at ING wrote.

The country's exports of palm oil and its derivatives are worth US$3 billion a month, according to estimates by some analysts.

Malaysian palm oil futures jumped to their highest since early March, sending shares of the companies focussed on the vegetable oil sharply higher.

Meanwhile, the rise in palm oil-related shares helped cap losses in the benchmark index, which was down 0.6%.

Indian stocks fell 1.5% as prospects of aggressive interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve hit investors' appetite for risky assets globally. Meanwhile, shares of the country's vegetable oil refiners rose between 2% and 20%.

Elsewhere, Singapore stocks were down by 0.5% after the country's key gauge of consumer prices rose in March by its fastest pace in a decade, driven particularly by food and services prices.

Shares in Taiwan dropped more than 2%, hitting their lowest since October, as the island saw a rise in Covid-19 cases.

"Although authorities are trying to shorten isolation periods, this should still impact retail sales, manufacturing and exports. This could put extra pressure on the semiconductor supply chain," ING analysts said.

South Korean shares fell 1.8%, broadly tracking Friday's slump on Wall Street which was caused by surprise earnings news and increased certainty around aggressive near-term interest rate rises.

Highlights:

  • Indonesia's Astra Agro Lestari and Triputra Agro Persada drop more than 6% each
  • Salim Ivomas Pratama and Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology also drop
  • Malaysian palm oil companies FGV Holdings Bhd, Sime Darby Plantation Bhd, and IOI Corp Bhd rise