Malaysian Palm Oil Slips to Five-year Low on Talk of Defaults on Cargoes

JAKARTA: Malaysian palm oil futures fell for a seventh-consecutive session to their lowest level in nearly five years on Thursday, with traders citing talk that major consumers in China and India had defaulted on cargoes.

Easing crude and competing oilseed prices coupled with a strong ringgit and slowing palm oil exports helped to push palm to its lowest levels since October 2009, with mixed expectations on how long the decline will last.

“There were rumours of defaults (surrounding) some huge consumers from India and China,” said a trader with a local commodities brokerage in Malaysia, declining to give any names.

Buyers were allegedly unable to open letters of credit and unable to renegotiate discounts with sellers, the trader said.

“They would just default on the contract or cancel the contract,” he said, adding this had sparked “a lot of selling”.

By the Thursday’s close, the benchmark August contract on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange had lost 0.49 percent to 2,040 ringgit ($644) per tonne, its lowest level since Oct. 8, 2009.

Total traded volume on Thursday stood at 36,389 lots of 25 tonnes, above the daily average of 35,000 lots.

Prospects of near-record U.S. soybean production also weighed on the market.

“Right now with other weak and bearish sentiment in the market it’s very hard to prompt buyers to come in,” said a trader with a foreign commodities brokerage in Kuala Lumpur.

“A lot of things have pulled together. The external market is very weak. Soy oil is very weak and unfortunately at the same time energy has also been at the lower end of the trading range. Then you have the ringgit with a stellar performance.”

Palm typically tracks soyoil, a common food and fuel substitute. Soy markets are facing pressure over forecasts of a big soybean crop from top exporter the United States.

In competing markets, new-crop soybean prices edged higher as the market recovered from Wednesday’s contract low, but gains were capped by forecasts of benign weather in the U.S. Midwest which has reinforced hopes of all-time high production.

Brent crude oil fell towards $101 a barrel on Thursday, just above a 14-month low, on plentiful fuel supplies and Chinese economic data pointing to slowing demand.

The Malaysian ringgit rose to a near 10-month high last week after data showed stronger-than-expected second quarter economic growth.

Traders’ forecasts for how far palm could fall were mixed.

“Psychologically out of 10 people I speak to, eight are saying the market will go down to 1,900 (ringgit per tonne), and that’s when the bonafide buyers will be buying,” one said.

“The lows are getting lower … Inevitably you will start getting a lot of defaults which is bad for the entire market.”

Earlier in the day, another trader said the concerns had been unwarranted. “I don’t see any fundamentals that are critical enough to justify a five-year-low market. Technically, it’s grossly oversold,” he said.

Technical analysis of the hourly RSI chart also showed palm is well oversold and ready for a rebound. However, with a breach of the 2,046 ringgit support level, prices were expected to fall to 2,016 ringgit.

“If the market bounces back 50 or 60 points you will see a lot of buyers coming in so they don’t miss the boat,” the second trader said, adding he would watch for any change in sentiment in prices of palm and soyoil or consumer buyers coming in.

“I would be prompted to jump in as well, because the potential downside is severely limited compared to the potential upside.”- Reuters


Source : The Star

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