Palm oil edged up as soyoil firms, waning exports curb gains

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 20): Malaysian palm oil futures recovered from last week's sharp fall to edge higher on Monday as rival soybean oil firmed, though worries about demand from top edible oil buyer India capped gains.

The benchmark palm oil contract for April delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange gained RM37, or 1.2%, to RM2,872 during early trade.

It fell 9.2% last week, its worst weekly decline since October 2008.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Malaysia's Jan 1-15 palm oil exports rose between 2.2% and 5.8%, cargo surveyors said, which was below expectations. The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) expects palm oil exports to drop 2.5% this year to 18 million tonnes, a top official said on Thursday.

* India, the world's largest edible oil buyer, restricted imports of refined palm oil and informally instructed traders to avoid purchases from Malaysia following a diplomatic spat.

* Malaysia raised its export tax for crude palm oil to 6% from 5% for February.

* However, higher biodiesel demand in top suppliers Malaysia and Indonesia and supply tightness buoyed prices. Lower production is expected for the first half of the year as dry weather and lower fertiliser usage in early 2019 curbed yields.

* Dalian's most-active soyoil contract inched up 0.2%, while its palm oil contract slid 0.5%. Soyoil prices on the Chicago Board of Trade traded flat after climbing 1% in the previous session.

* Palm oil is affected by price movements in related oils as they compete for a share in the global vegetable oils market.

* Palm oil may stabilize around a support at RM2,818 per tonne, and bounce towards a resistance at RM2,911, Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao said.

MARKET NEWS

* Asian shares neared a 20-month top on Monday as Wall Street extended its run of record peaks on solid US economic data and lashes of liquidity from the Federal Reserve.