Palm gains 1.4% on production drop, strong exports

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 2): Malaysian palm oil rose 1.4% in the first-half session on Thursday, supported by data showing lower production and improved exports.

Benchmark palm oil futures for March delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange rose to RM3,071 (US$692.29) per tonne. Traded volumes were thin with 27,002 lots of 25 tonnes each changing hands.

A trader based in Kuala Lumpur said a fall in production, strong export data and a weak ringgit were providing support to the palm futures.

"A few factors are affecting prices today — the production picture, the weaker ringgit, coupled with strong export estimate numbers," the trader said, adding stronger exports and a drop in production were positive factors in the short run.

Southern Peninsula Palm Oil Millers' Association (SPPOMA) released data on Thursday noting a drop of 21.8% in production for January.

Exports of Malaysian palm oil products for January rose 8.1% to 1,174,893 tonnes from 1,086,523 tonnes shipped during December, cargo surveyor Intertek Testing Services said on Tuesday.

"Market is firmer today riding on overnight strength on CBOT and SPPOMA updating the full January production figures," the trader said.

Technical buying could be lending some support to the futures as well, the trader said.

The Malaysian ringgit, the currency in which the futures contract is traded, fell 0.2% to 4.436. A weaker ringgit makes palm more attractive to traders holding foreign currencies.

On the Chicago Board Of Trade, the January soybean oil contract was up 0.1%.

The Dalian Commodity Exchange is closed for the Lunar New Year celebration, and will resume trading on Feb 3.

Palm, soy and crude oil prices at 0455 GMT

Contract                     Month      Last    Change         Low       High       Volume
MY PALM OIL               FEB7          3256    +26.00        3230       3258          103
MY PALM OIL               MAR7          3147    +47.00        3133       3153         3236
MY PALM OIL               APR7          3071    +42.00        3058       3075        15153
CHINA PALM OLEIN          MAY7             0     +0.00           0          0 0
CHINA SOYOIL              MAY7             0     +0.00           0 0 0
CBOT SOY OIL              MAR7         34.33     +2.40       34.22      34.38         2618
INDIA PALM OIL            FEB7        580.50     +2.40      578.50      581.2          288
INDIA SOYOIL              FEB7           703     +0.85         701      704.5         1700
NYMEX CRUDE               MAR7         53.57     -0.31       53.49      53.64        10145

(US$1 = RM4.4360)
(US$1 = 67.42 Indian rupees)
(US$1 = 6.8768 Chinese yuan)