* Investors cautious as prices hover near 2,600 rgt-trader
* Prices seen in 2,400-2,600 rgt range but could hit
By Anuradha Raghu
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 Malaysian palm oil futures
ended lower on Thursday as investors turned cautious about risky
bets, but uncertainty about supplies of competing edible oil
from the Philippines propped up prices.
Palm oil prices rose to near two-week highs on Wednesday on
concerns that Typhoon Haiyan had damaged coconut crops in the
Philippines and could disrupt the supply of coconut oil from one
of the world's top producers.
By Thursday's close, the benchmark January contract
on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange had edged down 0.6
percent to 2,588 ringgit ($809) per tonne, with prices moving in
a tight range between 2,583-2,617 ringgit.
Total traded volume stood at 29,368 lots of 25 tonnes each
on Thursday, lower than the average 35,000 lots as some
investors chose to stay on the sidelines.
Any shortage of Philippine coconut oil could channel demand
to palm oil-based substitutes such as palm kernel oil. The price
of crude palm kernel oil PKO-MYSTH-M1 rose to 3,802 ringgit
per tonne on Thursday from 3,720 ringgit on Wednesday in choppy
Futures market players are avoiding risk as prices hover
near the 2,600 ringgit mark, waiting for more news on export
demand and Southeast Asian palm output.
"The 2,600 ringgit level is a critical point. Buyers and
sellers are a bit cautious -- people are unsure and are waiting
for the next bit of news before making any moves," said a trader
with a foreign commodities brokerage
"Palm kernel oil prices are choppy. Players are quite
sensitive to buying and selling because of the situation in the
Philippines," the Malaysia-based trader added.
Palm oil futures will probably trade in a range of
2,400-2,600 ringgit over the next six months, leading industry
analyst Dorab Mistry said on Thursday, but they could climb as
high as 2,800 ringgit depending on output in top producer
Indonesia and the success of its biodiesel mandate.
Mistry's forecast, given at a vegetable oil meeting in
China, reverses his earlier prediction that prices would be
stuck in a 2,200-2,400 ringgit range and could even fall to
2,000 ringgit in early January.
Investors are waiting for cargo surveyor export data for the
first half of November, which will be released on Friday, to
gauge winter demand for the tropical oil.
The Malaysian government will also announce its crude palm
oil export tax for December on Friday. The No.2 producer has
kept its export duty at 4.5 percent since March.
In other markets, Brent oil rose towards $108 per barrel on
Thursday, bolstered by Federal Reserve comments which reassured
investors that the U.S. would maintain stimulus measures for
now, and a warning of likely rising prices from the
International Energy Agency.
In competing vegetable oil markets, the U.S. soyoil contract
for December rose 0.4 percent in late Asian trade. The
most active May soybean oil contract on the Dalian
Commodities Exchange rose 1 percent.
Palm, soy and crude oil prices at 1021 GMT
Contract Month Last Change Low High Volume
MY PALM OIL NOV3 2578 -16.00 2578 2580 31
MY PALM OIL DEC3 2576 -26.00 2574 2601 2762
MY PALM OIL JAN4 2588 -16.00 2583 2617 15639
CHINA PALM OLEIN MAY4 6332 +36.00 6282 6344 624410
CHINA SOYOIL MAY4 7282 +70.00 7224 7296 852508
CBOT SOY OIL DEC3 41.12 +0.16 40.86 41.26 5299
NYMEX CRUDE DEC3 93.81 -0.07 93.48 94.03 10898
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 = 3.20 Malaysian ringgit)
(Editing by Alan Raybould and Anand Basu)