Oil report

PREVIEW-Malaysia Feb palm oil stockpiles seen at 4-month low -Reuters survey

    * Feb stocks to fall 1.7 pct from Jan to 2.95 mln T -survey
    * Output to decline to 1.6 mln T, down 8 pct -survey
    * Exports estimated down 14 pct at 1.44 mln T -survey
    * Malaysian Palm Oil Board data due March 11

    By Emily Chow
    KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 (Reuters) - Malaysia's palm oil
stockpiles at end-February are expected to show a 1.7 percent
drop from the previous month's 3 million tonne level, according
to a Reuters survey, in keeping with a typical seasonal decline
in production.
    Inventories in Malaysia, the world's second-largest producer
of the edible oil, are expected to have slipped to 2.95 million
tonnes, based on the median estimate of eight planters, traders
and analysts polled by Reuters.
    Falling stockpiles will support benchmark palm oil prices
, which fell to their lowest in three years last
November. Palm futures were last down 0.2 percent at 2,157
ringgit ($527.77) a tonne on Wednesday evening.
    A drop in February would be the second consecutive month of
inventory declines, taking stockpiles to their lowest levels in
four months. MYPOMS-TPO
    Meanwhile, February production is expected to have fallen,
in line with seasonal trends for a fourth straight month to 1.6
million tonnes, down 8 percent.
    "Estates in Sarawak posted the sharpest production declines,
followed by Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia," said Ivy Ng,
regional head of plantations research at CIMB Investment Bank.
    But while last month's output would be the lowest since
July, it would still be the highest February level for Malaysia
in Refinitiv Eikon records going back to January 2000.
    Looking ahead, Malaysia and leading producer Indonesia will
likely see increased output boosted by crop-friendly weather
over the last few months, underlining prospects for record
production in 2019. But reduced usage of fertiliser, labour
shortages and older trees in Malaysia could yet limit growth
output, traders and industry players said.
    As for exports, the poll also showed industry players and
watchers see Malaysia's February palm oil shipments dropping 14
percent from the month before to 1.44 million tonnes. That would
mean the sharpest monthly decline in exports in nine months.
    The Malaysian ringgit strengthened 0.7 percent against the
dollar in February, making the edible oil more expensive for
foreign buyers. 
    Official palm oil data will be published by the Malaysian
Palm Oil Board ‪after 0430 GMT on March 11. 
    The median results from the Reuters survey put Malaysia's
consumption in February at 284,394 tonnes. 
    Breakdown of February estimates (in tonnes): 
                         Range              Median
 Production      1,500,000 - 1,737,000     1,599,249
 Exports         1,380,000 - 1,508,798     1,437,500
 Imports            50,000 - 110,000        72,976
 Closing Stocks  2,850,869 - 3,098,000     2,951,500
* Official stocks of 3,001,169 tonnes in January plus the above
estimated output and imports give a total February supply of
4,673,394 tonnes. Based on the median of exports and closing
stocks estimate, Malaysia's domestic consumption in February is
estimated to be 284,394 tonnes. 

($1 = 4.0870 ringgit)

 (Reporting by Emily Chow; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)