May 9, 2019 / 5:49 AM / 3 months ago

Palm edges lower on U.S.-China trade war, output worries

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian palm oil futures eased in the first half of trade, in line for second session of losses, as worries over U.S.-China trade relations and a bearish sentiment due to higher-than-forecast output in April weighed.

A worker unloads palm oil fruit bunches from a lorry inside a palm oil mill in Bahau, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin/Files

The benchmark palm oil contract for July delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange was last down 0.8 percent at 2,021 ringgit ($486.99) a tonne at the midday break.

“Both factors — the trade war and higher April production — caused the market’s fall today,” said a Kuala Lumpur-based trader, referring to data from the Malaysian Palm Oil Association. It reported a 2.3 percent monthly rise in output.

A Reuters poll had forecast that Malaysia’s production in April would fall to 1.64 million tonnes, down 1.9 percent from March. Stocks are also seen declining 5 percent to 2.77 million ringgit.

Official data from government body, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, reporting on end-stocks, production and exports is scheduled for release on Friday after 0430 GMT.

“The market however could also be supportive later due to the ringgit,” the trader added.

The ringgit, palm’s currency of trade, weakened 0.1 percent against the dollar to 4.1500 around Thursday noon, in line for a seventh straight day of loss.

A weaker ringgit usually supports palm oil prices by making it cheaper for foreign buyers.

Global stocks and commodities markets were hit earlier this week after U.S. president Donald Trump threatened to impose additional tariffs on Chinese imports.

The U.S. announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would increase to 25 percent from 10 percent on Friday, right in the middle of two days of meetings between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Trump’s top trade officials in Washington.

In other related oils, the Chicago July soybean oil contract fell 0.6 percent, while the May soyoil contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange edged up 0.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the Dalian May palm oil contract slipped 0.5 percent.

Palm oil prices are affected by movements in soyoil, with which it competes for global market share.

($1 = 4.1500 ringgit)

($1 = 69.8825 Indian rupees)

($1 = 6.8085 Chinese yuan)

Reporting by Emily Chow; editing by Uttaresh.V

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