Palm Oil Gains to Two-Week High as Weak Ringgit Boosts Demand

Palm oil advanced to a two-week high on speculation that a weakening Malaysian currency may make ringgit-denominated futures more attractive than soybean oil, a substitute in food and fuel uses.

The contract for April delivery climbed 0.4 percent to 2,588 ringgit ($776) a metric ton on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives, the highest level at close for most-active futures since Jan. 6. The gain pared losses to 2.7 percent this year.

The Malaysian currency touched 3.3269 per dollar today, the weakest since Sept. 6. The ringgit may weaken to 3.33 per dollar within one to two months as the U.S. Federal Reserve unwinds stimulus, said Sim Moh Siong, a foreign-exchange strategist at Bank of Singapore Ltd. Palm oil’s discount to soybean oil widened to $68.12 a ton today from $54.60 yesterday

“The lower ringgit boosts the competitiveness of palm oil against soybean oil,” said Alan Lim Seong Chun, an analyst at Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd. “The near-term movement will be subject to the ringgit’s movement. For the mid-term, the market is looking at the exports and the trend is improving.”

Exports from Malaysia, the second-biggest shipper, fell 15 percent to 748,303 tons in the first 20 days of January from the same period a month earlier, surveyor Intertek said yesterday. That was less than the 28 percent drop in the first half of the month, Intertek data showed.

Indonesia, the biggest producer, cut its palm oil export tax to 10.5 percent from 12 percent for February, Faiz Achmad, director of food at the Industry Ministry, said today. Malaysia kept the export levy at 5 percent for next month, the government said on Jan. 15.

Soybean oil for March delivery advanced as much as 1.9 percent to 38.45 cents a pound on the Chicago Board of Trade, the highest level since Jan. 6. Soybeans retreated 0.7 percent to $13.0675 a bushel.

Refined palm oil for May delivery fell 0.6 percent to close at 5,888 yuan ($973) a ton on the Dalian Commodity Exchange. Soybean oil declined 0.5 percent to end at 6,666 yuan.

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