Monday, 1 December 2014

Palm oil records biggest daily drop in 16 months

Malaysian palm oil futures recorded its biggest daily decline since July 2013 on Monday as crude oil hit five-year lows and export data showed weakening global demand for palm oil. "Everything dropped today on the back of weak crude oil, poor export figures, weak bean oil and also the weak Dalian - basically everything is weak," said a trader with a foreign commodities brokerage in Kuala Lumpur.

Weak crude oil dents palm oil demand by making it less appealing for blending into biofuels. The benchmark February contract on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange fell as much as 4.1 percent to 2,083 ringgit in early trade, their lowest since September 22. Prices then closed at 2,109 ringgit ($615) per tonne, down 2.9 percent, recording the contract's steepest daily fall since July 12, 2013.

Total traded volume stood at 59,556 lots of 25 tonnes, much higher than the average 35,000 lots. Brent crude oil fell more than $2 a barrel to a five-year low below $68 on Monday, as investors looked for a price floor after last week's Opec decision not to cut production. Both US crude and Brent have fallen for five straight months, oil's longest losing streak since the 2008 financial crisis.

On Friday leading industry analyst James Fry told a palm oil meeting that Malaysian palm oil may drop to 1,985 ringgit if Brent is at $70 a barrel, and could slide to 1,740 ringgit if Brent falls to $60. In competing vegetable oil markets, the US soyoil contract for December was down 1.7 percent in late Asian trade, while the most active May soybean oil contract on the Dalian Commodities Exchange plunged 4.0 percent.

Cargo surveyor Intertek Testing Services said on Monday that exports of Malaysian palm oil products in November fell 9.8 percent from October to 1,324,124 tonnes shipped. Another surveyor Societe Generale de Surveillance reported exports fell 10.5 percent from a month ago due to weaker demand to India, Pakistan and Europe.

Palm prices could continue to fall while fundamentals remain weak, the trader said, noting that steep declines in the ringgit since late last week had failed to attract buyers. "Today the ringgit is very weak but it is not helping. Despite the cheaper (palm oil) price, there is also no demand," he said. "Because of the external factors, people are in no hurry to stock up." The Malaysian currency was set to suffer its biggest two-day slide since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, slipping as far as 3.4375 per dollar as data highlighted the economic toll of plunging oil prices.
Copyright Reuters, 2014

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