KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian palm oil futures fell for a third day on Thursday to a near 2-1/2-month low as estimates of a surge in crude palm oil production in the world's top growers increased fears that supplies would overwhelm lacklustre demand.
The Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA), a group of planters in the world's No.2 producer, said it expected total palm output in March to have jumped 27.1 percent to 1.43 million tonnes as yields in both the Peninsular and Borneo regions recovered after monsoon floods.
A median forecast in a Reuters poll had pegged an 18 percent increase in output at 1.32 million tonnes. Official data on Malaysia's palm
output, end-stocks and exports will be released on Friday by industry regulator Malaysian Palm Oil Board.
"MPOA surprised us in terms of the magnitude of the increase," said David Ng of Phillip Futures in Kuala Lumpur.
"Production of 1.43 million tonnes is actually very high. A lot of traders are trying to reduce their risky positions - some are short-covering, which pushed the market even lower."
The benchmark June contract on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives fell to 2,118 ringgit on Thursday, its lowest since Jan. 30,before settling at 2,120 ringgit ($585) a tonne by the day's close, down 2.1 percent.
Total traded volume stood at 51,055 lots of 25 tonnes, much hither than the usual 35,000 lots.
In top grower Indonesia, crude palm oil output likely rose 17 percent to 2.397 million tonnes in March, its highest level since
September, a Reuters survey of leading industry officials showed. The increase was partly due to more number of available working days on
plantations, poll respondents said.
In other markets, oil prices rallied more than 2 percent on Thursday, clawing back part of a 6 percent slump triggered by a jump in U.S.
crude inventories and record Saudi output, although analysts said sentiment remained bearish.
In other competing vegetable oil markets, the U.S. soyoil May contract lost 0.8 percent in late Asian trade, while the most activeSeptember soybean oil contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange fell 1 percent.
Weaker prices of soyoil, palm's edible oil rival, may prompt price-sensitive buyers to shift demand to soy instead.