* Futures down 23 pct since start of year, steepest loss
* Malaysia's December exports down 5.7 pct -ITS
* Exports down 7.9 pct for same period -SGS
* Malaysia's new tax structure in focus for 2013 -trader
* Malaysia's weather office upgrades heavy rain warning from
yellow to orange stage
(Updates prices, adds SGS export data)
By Chew Yee Kiat
SINGAPORE, Dec 31 Malaysian palm oil futures
fell on Monday, weighed by lower exports although losses were
limited by expectations that heavy rains in the world's No.2
producer may disrupt production and bring down record high
Palm oil notched its worst annual performance since the
financial crisis in 2008, losing more than one-fifth thanks to
high stocks and a sluggish global growth that has dented edible
For the coming year, traders are watching the impact of
Malaysia's zero export tax for crude palm oil in January and a
stricter import rule for edible oil to be enforced by China, the
world's second-largest edible oil buyer.
"Malaysia's new export duty will be tested. There are more
concerns on the tax structure because it is now an even
playground for both countries (Malaysia and Indonesia)," said a
dealer with a foreign commodities brokerage in Malaysia.
"I foresee an even fiercer price competition."
Malaysian cargoes are still likely to be cheaper as it set
the January export tax rate at zero compared to Indonesia's 7.5
On the last trading day of the year, the benchmark March
contract on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange
lost 2.6 percent to close at 2,433 ringgit ($796) per tonne.
Prices hit an intraday high of 2,517 ringgit per tonne -- a
level last seen on Nov. 2, prompting some traders to book
profits soon after.
Total traded volumes stood at 43,399 lots of 25 tonnes each,
much higher than the usual 25,000 lots as traders squared their
Malaysian palm exports during December fell 5.7 percent to
1,568,510 tonnes from 1,663,092 tonnes a month ago, said cargo
surveyor Intertek Testing Services on Monday.
Another cargo surveyor, Societe Generale de Surveillance,
reported a steeper drop at 7.9 percent for the same period.
Concerns of heavy rains in Malaysia disrupting supply
persisted after the weather office upgraded its warning on
Monday from yellow to orange stage for key producing states such
as Pahang and Johor.
Brent crude slipped toward $110 per barrel on Monday, on
worries the United States may not reach a deal by Jan. 1 to
prevent a fiscal crisis that could erode fuel demand.
In competing vegetable oil markets, U.S. soyoil for March
delivery fell 0.6 percent in late Asian trade. The most
active May soybean oil contract on the Dalian Commodity
Exchange closed 0.4 percent lower.
Palm, soy and crude oil prices at 1012 GMT
Contract Month Last Change Low High Volume
MY PALM OIL JAN3 2320 -47.00 2305 2370 463
MY PALM OIL FEB3 2400 -51.00 2391 2470 2762
MY PALM OIL MAR3 2433 -64.00 2433 2517 14263
CHINA PALM OLEIN MAY3 6922 -46.00 6916 7044 653958
CHINA SOYOIL MAY3 8612 -30.00 8608 8740 449196
CBOT SOY OIL MAR3 49.15 -0.28 49.03 49.70 10141
NYMEX CRUDE FEB3 90.72 -0.08 90.37 90.96 7815
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
(Editing by Niluksi Koswanage)