* Malaysia sets March export tax at 4.5 pct, up from zero
pct in Feb
* Malaysia's Feb 1-15 palm oil exports up 18.1 pct -ITS
* Shipments up 13.6 percent for the same period
(Updates throughout, adds SGS export data)
By Chew Yee Kiat
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 Malaysian palm oil futures
fell to their lowest in more than two weeks on Friday, giving up
earlier gains as investors turned cautious after the government
raised its crude palm oil export tax for March.
The edible oil rose in the morning session after cargo
surveyor Intertek Testing Services reported a 18.1 percent
increase in Malaysian palm oil exports for the first half of
February from a month ago.
Another cargo surveyor, Societe Generale de Surveillance,
also reported a 13.6 percent rise in shipments for the same
But selling pressure emerged after the world's No.2 palm oil
producer said it will set its crude palm oil export tax for
March at 4.5 percent, up from February's zero percent, making
the crude grade more expensive for overseas buyers.
"The export tax was more important in the traders' minds,"
said a dealer with a foreign commodities brokerage in Kuala
The benchmark April contract on the Bursa Malaysia
Derivatives Exchange closed 0.4 percent lower at 2,486 ringgit
($804) per tonne. Prices dropped as low as 2,476 ringgit, the
lowest level since Jan. 30.
Total traded volumes stood at 27,269 lots of 25 tonnes each,
slightly higher than the average of 25,000 tonnes.
For the week, palm oil posted a 2.9 percent loss, snapping
four straight weeks of gains.
A zero-percent duty tax structure introduced by Malaysia in
January and February had provided positive sentiment for
investors, but forecasts of bumper soy crops in Latin America,
palm's vegetable oil competitor, has weighed on the market and
kept prices rangebound.
"For the past few months, high stockpiles and improving
weather conditions in Brazil and Argentina have continued to
weigh on prices," said Phillip Futures analyst Ker Chung Yang in
In other markets, Brent crude eased below $118 per barrel on
Friday and was heading for its first weekly loss in five after
disappointing euro zone data revived concerns about the troubled
In competing vegetable oil markets, U.S. soyoil for March
delivery inched up 0.1 percent in late Asian trade. The
Dalian Commodity Exchange is closed for the Lunar New Year
holidays and will resume trading on Monday.
Palm, soy and crude oil prices at 1007 GMT
Contract Month Last Change Low High Volume
MY PALM OIL FEB3 2428 -8.00 2428 2428 1
MY PALM OIL MAR3 2456 -19.00 2445 2495 1846
MY PALM OIL APR3 2486 -9.00 2476 2521 11899
CHINA PALM OLEIN SEP3 7088 -24.00 7082 7156 307504
CHINA SOYOIL SEP3 8714 -42.00 8712 8788 218624
CBOT SOY OIL MAR3 51.75 +0.05 51.55 51.98 4076
NYMEX CRUDE MAR3 96.89 -0.42 96.80 97.47 11567
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
(Additional reporting by Anuradha Raghu; Editing by Tom Hogue)