Palm Oil Advances to One-Week High as Chinese Imports Increase

Palm oil climbed to the highest level in more than a week on rising demand from China, the second-largest importer, amid speculation that a delay in soybean planting in the U.S. will lower global cooking oil supplies.

The contract for July delivery advanced 1.3 percent to 2,290 ringgit ($775) a metric ton on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives, the highest price for the most-active contract since April 26. Futures, down 6.1 percent this year, reached 2,230 ringgit on May 6, the lowest price since Dec. 13.

China imported 770,000 tons of vegetable oils in April, the customs agency said. That compares with 700,000 tons in March and 510,000 tons a year ago, according to Bloomberg data. Global palm oil exports are forecast to climb to 43.6 million tons in 2012-2013 from 40.4 million tons in 2011-2012, Hamburg-based researcher Oil World said yesterday.

Chinese purchases and gains in soybeans are boosting palm oil, Donny Khor, deputy director of futures and commodities at RHB Investment Bank Bhd., said by phone from Kuala Lumpur. “The U.S. weather and the delay in soybean planting are also supporting prices.”

About 2 percent of soybeans in the U.S. were planted as of May 5, down from 22 percent last year and the five-year average of 12 percent, the Department of Agriculture said. Farmers who plant soybeans after collecting wheat may not be able to plant oilseeds this year because of the harvest delays.

Soybeans for July delivery gained 0.6 percent to $13.91 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soybean oil climbed 0.3 percent to 49.28 cents a pound.

Refined palm oil for September delivery gained 1.4 percent to end at 5,986 yuan ($975) a ton on the Dalian Commodity Exchange. Soybean oil for same month delivery climbed 0.7 percent to close at 7,410 yuan a ton.

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