VEGOILS-Palm edges lower, posts 4th straight quarterly loss
* Palm oil prices slip to 2,376 ringgit, lowest since March 15 * Prices fell 2.5 pct in Q1 * USDA soybean stocks bearish for palm oil -analyst (Updates prices, adds details) By Chew Yee Kiat SINGAPORE, March 29 (Reuters) - Malaysian palm oil futures slipped to the lowest in two weeks on Friday to record a fourth straight quarterly drop, after data showed higher-than-expected U.S. soybean stockpiles. The U.S. Department of Agriculture pegged soybean stocks at 999 million bushels, above trade guesses of 935 million. Higher soybean stocks for crushing into soybean oil may shift some demand away from competing palm oil. Palm oil prices also came under pressure ahead of export data next week that traders will scour for clues on whether demand is strong enough to whittle down high stockpiles in Malaysia, the second-largest producer. "Overall, the news of significantly higher-than-expected U.S. soybean stockpiles but slightly lower than expected soybean planting acreage is negative to crude palm oil (CPO) prices due to its strong correlation with soybean oil prices," Alan Lim Seong Chun, research analyst with Malaysia's Kenanga Investment Bank, said in a note to clients on Friday. "Nevertheless, we think that CPO prices' downside is limited as we expect a CPO seasonal demand recovery in the near term due to warmer weather in the northern hemisphere." The benchmark June contract on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange lost 1.4 percent to 2,378 ringgit ($768) per tonne by Friday's close. Prices earlier fell to 2,376 ringgit, the lowest since March 15. Total traded volume stood at 19,429 lots of 25 tonnes each, slightly thinner than the usual 25,000 tonnes. The edible oil ended the first quarter of the year 2.5 percent lower as high stocks in top producers Indonesia and Malaysia weighed, although easing inventory levels should provide support for prices in the coming months. Stockpiles in Malaysia hit a record 2.63 million tonnes in December but have since gradually eased to 2.44 million tonnes in end-February. Market players are expecting March export data due on Monday to gauge how much demand will eat into stocks. "Investors are waiting for Monday's full month export figures. At least then there is a clue as to where stocks will be heading to," said a trader with a foreign commodities brokerage in Malaysia. In other vegetable oil markets, the most-active September soybean oil contract on the Dalian Commodities Exchange fell 1.7 percent in late Asian trade. The Brent crude futures markets and the U.S. soybean markets were shut for the Good Friday holiday. Palm, soy and crude oil prices at 1011 GMT Contract Month Last Change Low High Volume MY PALM OIL APR3 2345 -27.00 2345 2365 79 MY PALM OIL MAY3 2371 -30.00 2367 2393 2217 MY PALM OIL JUN3 2378 -34.00 2376 2402 8348 CHINA PALM OLEIN SEP3 6246 -82.00 6102 6266 586028 CHINA SOYOIL SEP3 7932 -138.00 7822 7976 685892 CBOT SOY OIL MAY3 50.00 -0.82 49.52 50.95 69815 NYMEX CRUDE MAY3 97.23 +0.65 96.26 97.35 160072 Palm oil prices in Malaysian ringgit per tonne CBOT soy oil in U.S. cents per pound Dalian soy oil and RBD palm olein in Chinese yuan per tonne Crude in U.S. dollars per barrel ($1=3.095 ringgit) (Additional reporting by Anuradha Raghu; Editing by Himani Sarkar, John Stonestreet)
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