* India's palm oil demand still strong despite import tax
* Malaysian palm oil prices must stimulate exports to cut
* Palm oil signals mixed in 2,332-2,449 ringgit range
(Updates prices, adds detail)
By Anuradha Raghu
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 Malaysian palm oil futures
rose on Friday on steady buying ahead of the weekend, brushing
aside concerns that India's new import duties could potentially
hurt demand and leave bulging stockpiles at record highs.
India, the world's biggest buyer of vegetable oils, slapped
a 2.5 percent import duty on crude edible oils on Thursday,
triggering a fall of 2.1 percent in prices of palm oil on fears
the taxes would take a further toll on exports which have been
sluggish in January.
But traders say India's move, aimed at trimming a hefty
import bill and protecting its domestic oilseed industry, is
smaller than expected and not drastic enough to hurt demand.
"Earlier there was talk about much higher taxes, but they
came up with this because India still needs oil," said a trader
with a foreign commodities brokerage in Kuala Lumpur.
The benchmark April contract on the Bursa Malaysia
Derivatives Exchange closed 0.8 percent up at 2,399 ringgit
($796) per tonne, posting a weekly gain of 1.3 percent.
Total traded volume stood at 44,307 lots of 25 tonnes each,
almost double the usual 25,000 lots as investors hedged
positions ahead of the weekend.
Technical analysis showed that Malaysian palm oil will
display mixed signals as long as prices remain in a range of
2,332 to 2,449 ringgit per tonne, Reuters market analyst Wang
Record high palm oil stocks in Malaysia, the world's No.2
producer, have caused prices to tumble more than 20 percent in
2012, widening palm oil's discount to competing soybean oil and
making it the cheapest vegetable oil in the market.
But despite Malaysia's zero export duty tax structure, which
it will retain next month, exports have been dismal in the first
half of January.
"Going forward, a lot depends on the export pace and whether
prices are low enough to encourage demand," said ANZ
agricultural and commodity strategist Victor Thianpiriya in
"Prices need to find that point which encourages exports.
The market is going to do whatever it needs to stimulate enough
exports to get stocks lower," he added.
Brent crude held above $111 per barrel on Friday, supported
by a rebound in China's growth and encouraging data from the
United States, following a steep jump in the previous session
triggered partly by an Algerian crisis.
The U.S. soyoil for March delivery edged down 0.3
percent in late Asian trade. The most active May soybean oil
contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose 0.9
Palm, soy and crude oil prices at 1013 GMT
Contract Month Last Change Low High Volume
MY PALM OIL FEB3 2360 +17.00 2355 2370 263
MY PALM OIL MAR3 2384 +23.00 2360 2402 6074
MY PALM OIL APR3 2399 +20.00 2377 2418 21102
CHINA PALM OLEIN MAY3 6746 -4.00 6652 6750 537290
CHINA SOYOIL SEP3 8782 +82.00 8650 8790 490308
CBOT SOY OIL MAR3 51.36 -0.13 51.22 51.70 5639
NYMEX CRUDE FEB3 95.33 -0.17 95.12 95.67 7642
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 Miral Fahmy)