Malaysian palm oil price hits near 4-month low on rising output, weak demand

Malaysian palm oil gave up its early gains on Thursday, declining towards the end of the trading day as rallies of rival vegetable oils on China's Dalian Commodity Exchange slowed and palm export demand weakened

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian palm oil futures fell on Thursday evening, charting a fifth session of losses in six and hitting their lowest in nearly four months as concerns persisted over rising production and weak exports.

Benchmark palm oil futures for May on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange declined 1 percent to 2,782 ringgit ($625.59) a tonne at the close of trade. The contract dropped to as low as 2,743 ringgit in the second half of trading, its weakest since Nov. 4. 

Palm had gained about 1 percent on Wednesday, snapping four previous sessions of losses, but lost nearly 9 percent since the start of last week. 

Traded volumes stood at 95,844 lots of 25 tonnes each on Thursday evening.

"After four days of drop the market pulled back, but now it is coming down again. People feel that there is more production coming, and demand is slowing down," said a trader from Kuala Lumpur.

"There is also too much pressure from soyoil," he said.

Lower prices of soyoil make it more attractive as the preferred edible oil in top consumers such as China and India. 

Palm oil demand for the full month of February is expected to fall after shipments rose in January over the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations. 

Exports declined 0.8 percent in the Feb. 1-20 time period from the same period last month, according to data from cargo surveyor Intertek Testing Services.

However, data from another cargo surveyor, Societe Generale de Surveillance, showed that demand rose 1.7 percent.

Output is forecast to rise in February as palm's fresh fruit yields are seen recovering from the El Nino's crop damaging effects. Government data showed it had declined 13.4 percent in January, its sharpest drop in a year and its lowest level since March.

Palm oil may test a support at 2,750 ringgit per tonne, a break below which could cause a loss to the next support at 2,703 ringgit, said Wang Tao, a Reuters market analyst for commodities and energy technicals.

In related vegetable oils, soybean oil on the Chicago Board of Trade fell 0.3 percent, while the soybean oil contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange declined 0.8 percent. 

The May contract for palm olein on China's Dalian Commodity Exchange declined 1.1 percent- Reuters

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