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Palm Oil Gains on Speculation Malaysia Exports to Rebound on Tax

March 15 (Bloomberg) -- Palm oil advanced the most in more than three weeks on speculation that exports from Malaysia may climb this month after the government left a tax on shipments unchanged, potentially reducing stockpiles.

The contract for May delivery surged 2.1 percent to 2,414 ringgit ($771) a metric ton on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange, the biggest gain at close for the most-active price since Feb. 19. Futures declined 1.4 percent this week.

Malaysia kept the tax at 4.5 percent for April as the reference price fell in the band for the minimum duty to be applied, according to a Customs Department statement. The government cut the levy to between 4.5 percent and 8.5 percent, from about 23 percent, starting Jan. 1, to clear record reserves. Shipments were duty-free in the first two months of the year as the reference price was below the threshold that triggers the tax.

“Stockpiles may fall a bit more by the end of this month,” said Ryan Long, vice president of futures and options at OSK Investment Bank Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur. “We’ll still have a chance to see improvement in the full-month export figure because of the additional days” compared to February, he said.

Shipments were little changed at 675,210 tons in the first 15 days of this month, compared with 673,555 tons in the same period in February, surveyor Intertek said today. Exports fell 14 percent to 1.4 million tons in February for a fourth monthly decline, while inventories dropped to 2.44 million tons, the board said March 11. Reserves reached an all-time high of 2.63 million tons in December.

Soybean oil for May delivery climbed 0.9 percent to 49.80 cents a pound on the Chicago Board of Trade, while soybeans for May delivery gained 0.4 percent to $14.4175 a bushel.

Refined palm oil for delivery in September advanced 1.6 percent to close at 6,362 yuan ($1,023) a ton on the Dalian Commodity Exchange. Soybean oil for delivery in the same month climbed 1.6 percent to end at 8,136 yuan a ton.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ranjeetha Pakiam in Kuala Lumpur at rpakiam@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net

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