Friday, March 18, 2011

20110318 1837 Breaking News.

LIBYA : Qaddafi Troops Near Benghazi May Face Air Attack After U.N. Vote (Bloomberg)
Muammar Qaddafi ’s troops outside the rebel base of Benghazi may face air strikes from the U.S., France and other allies after the United Nations Security Council authorized the use of military force to protect civilians.

20110318 1833 FCPO EOD Daily Chart Study.

FCPO closed : 3446, changed : +108 points, volume : lower.
Bollinger band reading : correction range bound, downside biased.
MACD Histrogram : recovering, seller taking profit.
Support : 3420, 3350, 3300, 3270 level.
Resistance : 3450, 3470, 3500, 3550 level.
Comment :
Rallied FCPO closed recorded huge gains with decreasing volume transacted responding to continue trading firmer crude oil and soy oil prices after overnight closed recorded gains.
Daily chart formed an up bar candle positioned nearer to middle Bollinger band level after market opened gap up, eased little lower and edge up slowly all the way to closed near the high of the day.
Chart reading remained unchanged suggesting a correction range bound downside biased market development with the correction possibly testing higher resistance level with MACD histrogram forming positive divergence.
When to buy : buy at support or weakness with quick cut loss and profit target.
When to sell : sell at resistant or strength with quick cut loss and profit target.

20110318 1804 FKLI EOD Daily Chart Study.

FKLI closed : 1498.5 changed : +7.5 points,  volume : lower.
Bollinger band reading : correction range bound little downside biased.
MACD Histrogram : recovering, seller taking profit
Support : 1485, 1470, 1458, 1445 level.
Resistance : 1500, 1515, 1530, 1540 level.
Comment :
FKLI closed recorded gain with slowing down volume changed hand doing 5 points discount compare to cash market while overnight US and today regional market traded mostly higher after G7 country Yen intervention and Japan's nuclear power plant reactor rescue effort making progress but markets gains were limited after United Nation official declared no fly zone to Libya kept crude oil price staying at higher level.
Daily chart formed an up doji bar candle closed near to middle Bollinger band level after market opened gap up, traded range bound within a 8.5 points range testing support and resistance to closed 3 ticks above opening price.
Chart reading suggesting a correction range bound little downside biased market development with the correction possibly testing higher resistance level with MACD histrogram forming positive divergence and MACD indicator about the have a positive cross up.
When to buy : buy at support or weakness with quick cut loss and profit target.
When to sell : sell at resistant or strength with quick cut loss and profit target.

20110318 0930 Malaysia Corporate Related News.

KLCI chart reading : pullback correction range bound downside biased.

New credit card rules out today
Bank Negara Malaysia will today announce new credit card guidelines to address concerns over rising household debt. Industry insiders said the new measures could include capping or reducing credit limits and limiting the number of cards for those in the lower income group. Currently, banks are free to set credit limits, based on their risk management practices. (BT)

Cypark in talks to win 'landfills into renewable energy parks' job
Cypark Resources is in talks with the Government to close, upgrade and convert 32 more non-sanitary landfills into renewable energy (RE) parks, a project that could involve an investment of some RM1bn. Besides the 32 landfills, it also plans to invest about RM500m to turn 16 landfills into RE parks, according to its CEO Daud Ahmad. (BT)

Karambunai unit inks agreement with China Central Asia
Karambunai’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Karambunai Resorts SB, has signed a joint venture agreement with China Central Asia (CCA) to develop the RM1bn first phase of the Karambunai Integrated Resort City in Kota Kinabalu. CCA would inject a seed capital of USD100m as a revolving fund to develop about 3,000 units of low and medium high rise residential buildings and the development of a commercial beachfront centre. (StarBiz)

Faber proposes balance sheet clean-up exercise
Faber has proposed a balance sheet clean-up exercise that will involve a par value and share premium reduction to address its accumulated losses of RM422m. The par value reduction proposes to cancel 75 sen of every RM1 share’s par value whilst the share premium reduction will involve the reduction of its entire share premium of RM116m. (Malaysian Reserve)

Parkson may foray into Indonesia
Parkson Holdings may foray into Indonesia via the opening of its department stores in the populous republic. It had entered into an exclusivity agreement with PT Tozy Bintang Sentosa to negotiate a possible collaboration between the two parties to develop and expand Parkson department stores in Indonesia. (Financial Daily)

UMW secures RM127m Petronas Carigali drilling job
UMW Holdings’ subsidiary UMW Standard Drilling SB has been awarded a RM127m contract for the provision of its Naga 3 jack-up drilling rig to Petronas Carigali for its operations within Malaysian waters. (Malaysian Reserve)

Market: Capital market crosses RM2t. Securities Commission chairman Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar said Malaysia's capital market corssed the RM2t threshold for the first time ever as at end-2010, achieved an annual compounded growth rate of 11% from RM717b in 2000. (Soure: The Star)

Property: EPF buys 3rd London property for GBP148m. It marks the EPF's third property investment there since announcing an allocation of GBP1b for British property purchases. EPF's other 2 propery purchases are One Sheldon Square in Paddington Central, which was bought for GBP156m, and 40 Portman Square near Oxford Street which was acquired for GBP180m. The 2 properties have yields of 5.75% and 5.55% respectively. (Source: The Star)

Smelting: OMH plans Sarawak smelter. Austrialia-listed OM Holdings Ltd (OMH) plans to set up a manganese and ferro silicon alloy smelter under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) initiative, expected to be ready in 3Q 2011. The smelter facility is expected to have the capability to produce 300,000 tonnes of manganese ferro alloys and 300,000 tonnes of ferro silicon alloys a year. (Source: The Star)

20110318 0912 Global Economic Related News.

UN : United Nations backs no-fly zone, strikes in Libya
The United Nations Security Council voted 10 to 0 supporting the use of "all necessary measures" including the use of a no-fly zone to protect civilians and rebel forces in Libya from forces loyal to Gadhafi. Russia and China, which held veto powers, abstained from the vote, along with three other council members. The passing of the measure is expected to lead to UN-backed military strikes in Libya within hours, according to sources. (

U.S: Consumer prices rose 0.5% MoM in February; Core up 0.2% MoM. Retailers from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to Gap Inc. are facing rising raw materials costs, which may erode profits and prompt businesses to try and recoup some of the expenses. While bigger grocery and fuel bills also strain household budgets, Federal Reserve policy makers this week said the upward pressure on inflation is expected to be "transitory." (Source: Bloomberg)

US: Stocks reclaim part of recent decline
US stocks made a broad, sharp rebound Thursday, ending three straight days of losses, as economic data and an upbeat forecast from FedEx helped the market shift its focus from Japan’s nuclear crisis to the domestic recovery. Dow ended up 161.29 points, or 1.4%, to 11,774.59, with 24 of its 30 components gaining. It was the Dow’s biggest one-day gain in two weeks. (

US : Industrial Production in U.S. Falls 0.1% (Bloomberg)
Manufacturing Boosts U.S. Expansion as Fuel Prices Dent Consumer Sentiment Production at U.S. factories increased for a sixth month in February, indicating manufacturing will keep stoking the economy and underscoring the Federal Reserve’s view of a stronger expansion.

US : Leading Indicators in U.S. Rise 0.8% in Eighth Consecutive Monthly Gain (Bloomberg)
The index of U.S. leading indicators rose in February, the eighth consecutive gain and a sign supporting the Federal Reserve’s statement that the recovery has gained traction.

US : Initial Unemployment Claims in U.S. Fall 16,000 as Labor Market Improves (Bloomberg)
Fewer Americans filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments for a third week in the last four, indicating progress in the labor market.

US : Consumer Comfort in U.S. Drops to Lowest Since August (Bloomberg)
Consumer confidence plunged last week to the lowest level since August as rising gasoline prices made Americans more pessimistic about the economic outlook and their finances.

US: Manufacturing strengthens, bolstering expansion
Production at US factories increased for a sixth month in February, indicating manufacturing will keep stoking the economy and underscoring the Federal Reserve’s view of a stronger expansion. The 0.4% rise in manufacturing output, which makes up 75% of all industrial production, followed a 0.9% January gain that was three times as large as initially estimated, Fed figures showed. (Bloomberg)

US: Index of leading economic indicators rises 0.8%
The index of US leading indicators rose in February, the eighth consecutive gain and a sign supporting the Federal Reserve’s statement that the recovery has gained traction. The Conference Board’s gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months increased 0.8% after rising 0.1% in January, the New York-based group said. (Bloomberg)

UK : Ireland’s Kenny Says Taxpayers Shouldn’t Bear All Bailout Cost (Bloomberg)
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said it’s “grossly unfair” that taxpayers alone should carry the cost of bailing out the country’s banks as he pushed for lower rates on a European-led rescue loan.

UK : Britons’ Inflation Expectations Reach 4%, the Highest Since August 2008 (Bloomberg)
Britons’ inflation expectations rose to the highest level in 2 1/2 years in February, adding pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates.

E.U: Construction output in January rises for first time in 7 months, led by a rebound in Germany following frigid weather in the prior month. Construction in the euro region rose 1.8% MoM from December, when it declined 2% MoM. That is the first increase since June 2010. From a year earlier, January construction decreased 4.5% YoY. (Source: Bloomberg)
E.U : Spain Sells Bonds in First Test of Confidence in Rescue Fund: Euro Credit (Bloomberg)
Spain sold bonds today in the first test of whether Europe’s efforts to boost the firepower of its rescue fund are persuading investors to become more discriminating about which countries will avoid bailouts.

E.U : Swiss Central Bank Keeps Rate on Hold as Japan Aftermath Strengthens Franc (Bloomberg)
The Swiss central bank today kept borrowing costs near zero as policy makers assess increased global uncertainty that pushed the franc to a record in the aftermath of Japan’s earthquake.

India: Braces for inflation risks from oil after rate increase
India faces pressure to step up its battle against price gains even after the steepest interest-rate increases among Asia’s major economies, as oil costs rise and consumer demand strengthens. The Reserve Bank of India raised its inflation forecast for the second time since late January as it lifted the benchmark repurchase rate by a quarter-point to 6.75%, the eighth move in a year. (Bloomberg)

India : India Raises Interest Rates for Eighth Time in a Year to Reduce Inflation (Bloomberg)
India’s central bank increased interest rates for the eighth time in a year after raising its inflation forecast twice in three months. Stocks and bonds fell.

Japan : Japan Restraint on Yen Intervention Threatens Deeper Slump as G-7 Confers (Bloomberg)
Japanese policy makers, battling their country’s worst crisis since World War II, may need to move faster to weaken the yen and shore up stocks if they are to avoid a deeper economic slump.

Japan: Says theres no evidence insurers are repatriating assets from abroad and that the yen's climb was driven by speculation. "The speculation was that Japanese life and casualty insurers will repatriate dollar-denominated assets to secure funds in wake of the earthquake," Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano told reporters in Tokyo. "But they have ample cash, deposits and other liquid assets," he said, adding that the Financial Services Agency and Bank of Japan have confirmed insurers aren't selling their dollar assets. (Source: Bloomberg) 

Japan: Injects more funds to calm post-quake chaos
Japan pumped more funds into its shaky financial system after stocks fell and the yen surged to a record high, which Tokyo blamed on currency speculators following a huge earthquake. The central bank injected another JPY6trn (USD76bn), increasing to JPY34trn the total amount of funds added to money markets since Monday to soothe jitters after last week's devastating quake and tsunami. (BT)

Singapore: Export growth slowed as electronics, drug sales ease
Singapore’s export growth slowed more than economists expected in February as electronics shipments fell after the Lunar New Year holidays curbed demand from China for manufactured parts. Non-oil domestic exports climbed 7.8% from a year earlier, after a revised 20.7% gain in January, the island’s trade promotion agency said in a statement. The median forecast of 11 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for an increase of 10.5%. (Bloomberg)

20110318 0853 Global Market Related News.

Chart reading : pullback correction range bound downside biased.

Chart reading : pullback correction range bound downside biased.

 Chart reading : pullback correction range bound downside biased.

Chart reading : downside biased with potential pullback correction.

U.S. corn, wheat extend rally on exports, oil
SINGAPORE, March 18 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat and corn futures rose more than 3 percent on Friday, adding to the previous session's biggest one day gains in five months, as strong weekly exports and talk of Chinese purchases propelled grains higher.
"U.S. exports sale numbers were very bullish," said Ker Chung Yang, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore. "We are seeing Asian equity markets are doing quite well at the moment." 

Argentine soy outlook steady, corn harvest slow
BUENOS AIRES, March 17 (Reuters) - Rains in Argentine soy areas relieved crops over the last week, but persistent dryness means output is not expected to exceed 48.8 million tonnes, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said on Thursday.
Argentina, the world's third-biggest soy supplier, had dry weather earlier this season, but heavy rains from mid-January onward brightened the outlook for the oilseed. Parched conditions have returned over the last two weeks.

Gold extends gains on equities, Mideast in focus
SINGAPORE, March 18 (Reuters) - Gold rose more than half a percent on Friday after equities markets regained strength and crude oil firmed on rising tensions in the Middle East and North Africa, but Japan's nuclear crisis could cap gains. 
Investors shifted their attention to Libya after the United Nations authorised military strikes to curb leader Muammar Gaddafi, while a deadly unrest in Bahrain could stir up interest in bullion which has lost more than 2 percent since striking a record.

Stocks rise but uncertainty still looms
NEW YORK, March 17 (Reuters) - European and U.S. stocks rebounded from three days of selling on Thursday despite no resolution to Japan's nuclear plant crisis, while the yen edged off a record high against the U.S. dollar.
Despite the rise in stocks, fear still clouded markets across the globe as Japan's responses to its worsening nuclear disaster looked increasingly desperate. New issues in the stock and loans markets were postponed and equity trading volumes dipped. 

Oil : Brent crude rises more than a dollar on Mideast tensions
SINGAPORE, March 18 (Reuters) - ICE Brent crude  rose more than a dollar on Friday on fears of further escalation of geopolitical tension in the Middle East and North Africa.
Brent crude for May climbed to an intraday high of $116.50, up $1.60.
The United Nations authorised military strikes to curb Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Thursday, hours after he threatened to storm the rebel bastion of Benghazi overnight, showing "no mercy, no pity".

COMMODITIES: Roar back as Japan fears recede, oil up on MidEast
NEW YORK, March 17 (Reuters) - Commodities roared back on Thursday as fears over the impact of the nuclear crisis in Japan receded and as unrest in the Middle East boosted oil, setting a key index on course for its largest daily gain in 19 months.
"The risk aversion is not as it was. There is this assumption that conditions will revert back to normal reasonably quickly," Deutsche Bank analyst Daniel Brebner said.

GLOBAL MARKETS: Stocks rise but uncertainty still looms
NEW YORK, March 17 (Reuters) - European and U.S. stocks rebounded from three days of selling on Thursday despite no resolution to Japan's nuclear plant crisis, while the yen edged off a record high against the U.S. dollar.
Despite the rise in stocks, fear still clouded markets across the globe as Japan's responses to its worsening nuclear disaster looked increasingly desperate. New issues in the stock and loans markets were postponed and equity trading volumes dipped.

G-7 Sells Yen in First Joint Intervention in More Than Decade (Bloomberg)
The Group of Seven will jointly intervene in the foreign exchange market for the first time in more than a decade after Japan’s currency soared, threatening its recovery from the March 11 earthquake.

Yen Drops as G-7 Agrees to Intervene in Foreign-Exchange Markets (Bloomberg)
The yen slid, halting a five-day rally to a postwar record against the dollar, as Group of Seven nations said they will jointly intervene in foreign-exchange markets for the first time in more than a decade.

Crude Oil Climbs for a Third Day on Concern Middle East Unrest May Spread (Bloomberg)
Oil surged in New York after the United Nations Security Council voted to ground Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi ’s air force as continuing unrest in the region renewed concerns that the turmoil may spread and disrupt supply.

Japanese Stocks ‘Look Cheap’ After Plunge, Societe Generale’s Grice Says (Bloomberg)
Japan stocks are beginning to “look cheap” after plunging following the biggest earthquake on record for that nation, Dylan Grice, Societe Generale’s global strategist said in a report.

Japanese Stocks in U.S., Australian Shares Advance on Easing Concern, Oil (Bloomberg)
Japanese stocks traded in the U.S. rose as concern eased about nuclear radiation and the effects of last week’s earthquake, and on speculation the government will act to weaken the yen. Australian shares advanced.

Yen hits record high; stocks stabilise
LONDON, March 17 (Reuters) - The yen briefly hit record highs versus the dollar as quake-hit Japan's nuclear crisis unleashed a global risk sell-off, while world stocks ticked higher after Tokyo stocks came off earlier lows.
"Some slightly more positive news from Japan over attempts to avert a full-blown nuclear catastrophe has helped add a degree of stability to shares during the Asian session, but the situation is still very much hanging in the balance," Peter Stanhope, Institutional trader at IG Markets, said.

Corn, wheat rise 1.5 pct after selloff, soy extends gains
SINGAPORE, March 17 (Reuters) - U.S. corn and wheat futures rose around 1.5 percent on bargain hunting after a selloff this week triggered by Japan's devastating earthquake, which raised doubts over the nation's grain imports.  "The grain markets are volatile because Japan is a major corn importer and we are not sure about the nuclear situation," said Ker Chung Yang, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.

Corn (Source: CME)
US corn futures close up the daily 30c limit as commodity markets rebounded on growing confidence in Japan's ability to recover. Prior to Thursday's rally, corn futures had pulled back 14% from a 32-month high reached March 4 on concerns about tight supplies. Japan's troubles contributed to worries about a potential global economic slowdown and reduced demand for agricultural commodities. Futures felt additional support today from an export sale to unknown destinations, which sparked chatter that China may have entered the market, traders say. CBOT May corn surges 4.9% to $6.46 1/2 a bushel.

Wheat (Source: CME)
US wheat futures finish sharply higher in a rebound from losses fueled by growing optimism about Japan's recovery. Futures had tumbled recently as Japan's troubles added to concerns about a global economic slowdown and reduced demand for commodities. "As long as things are not getting worse, that's a good sign," says Dax Wedemeyer, analyst at US Commodities. Solid weekly export sales and a limit-up rally in corn helped boost wheat. CBOT May jumps 48 1/4c to $7.10 1/4 a bushel, KCBT May climbs 52 3/4c to $8.31 and MGE May wheat jumps 48 3/4c to $8.54 3/4.

Oats (Source: CME)
Oat futures rallied the daily, 20-cent limit as grain markets surged on growing optimism about Japan's recovery. Oats for May delivery gained 20 cents, or 6.3%, to $3.35 a bushel.

IMF Staff: Higher Global Food Prices Here To Stay (Source: CME)
Higher food prices are likely here to stay and the rising costs are likely to impact core inflation for poorer nations, International Monetary Fund staff warned in a report. "The world may need to get used to higher food prices," research department staff Thomas Helbling and Shaun Roache wrote in a new IMF article. "Policymakers--particularly in emerging and developing economies--will likely have to continue confronting the challenges posed by food prices that are both higher and more volatile than the world has been used to," they said. Poor weather amid strong demand has been the primary driver of a spike in food prices, with the IMF's Food Price Index approaching a historic peak seen in 2008. Given that food and energy prices are often volatile, they are generally excluded from core inflation calculations and given less notice by monetary policy-makers. "Nevertheless, the main reasons for rising demand for food reflect structural changes in the global economy that will not be reversed," the two said.
Helbling and Roache say that since a much larger share of income in emerging and developing nations is spent on feeding families, "food price spikes are more likely to unhinge inflation expectations and trigger increases in wage demands," even though international prices may stabilize. That's why the IMF has traditionally advised countries to accommodate the first-round direct effects of rising commodity prices on inflation, but to be prepared to tighten monetary policy to avoid second-round impacts, the staff said. Over time, the IMF staff said the growth in supply can be expected to respond to higher prices, easing pressures on food markets, "but this will take time counted in years rather than months." Production costs, including for energy, water and land, are likely to climb as there's increasing scarcity, even though technology and higher-yield growth could compensate for such limitations, Helbling and Roache said.
Also, the IMF staff said perhaps one of the most important explanations for the trending increase in food prices is that consumers in emerging and developing economies are becoming richer and changing their diets as a result. "In particular, consumers in these economies are eating more high-protein foods such as meat, dairy products, edible oils, fruits and vegetables, and seafood," they said.

NOAA Sees Above-Average Flood Risk In Half US (Source: CME)
Nearly half the continental U.S. has an above-average risk of flooding over the next few weeks as heavy snow melts, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration warned. Spring flooding is already underway in some areas, raising concerns about property damage and threats to crops ahead of a key planting season. The highest-risk areas include the Red River, which forms the state line between eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota; the Minnesota River; and the upper Mississippi River basin from Minneapolis southward to St. Louis, according to NOAA. "For the third consecutive year, the stage is set for potential widespread, record flooding in the north-central United States," said Jack Hayes, director of NOAA's National Weather Service. Warm temperatures should accelerate flooding in the northern Plains this week, causing much of the snowpack to melt across South Dakota and southern Minnesota, according to NOAA.
That may set off "moderate to major flooding" in eastern South Dakota next week, the agency said in a spring weather outlook. Troubles may persist through next month after minor flooding starts this week on the Mississippi River and its tributaries over southeastern Minnesota and southwestern Wisconsin, NOAA said. More precipitation may exacerbate the problem. A series of storm systems is forecast to move across the northern Plains during the next two weeks, eventually leading to major flooding sometime from the last week of March through early April, NOAA said. The U.S. is at a particularly high risk for flooding this year because heavy, late-summer and fall precipitation left soils saturated and streams running high before the winter freeze. Stable to below-freezing temperatures during the winter prevented heavy snowfall from melting. "All the ingredients are in place for major flooding," Hayes said.
Farmers in the upper Midwest and northern Plains are worried excessive wetness will delay planting of key crops like wheat and corn this spring. Delayed planting can eventually reduce the size of the harvests because it forces crops to develop during the height of summer heat. Users of grain, including livestock producers and foreign buyers, are concerned about the risk of planting problems because large harvests are needed to replenish tight supplies. Corn inventories, in particular, need a boost as they are expected to reach a 15-year low by the end of the crop's marketing year on Aug. 31. However, it's unclear whether wetness will delay planting in Iowa, the country's top corn-producing state, said Edward O'Lenic, a NOAA meteorologist and chief of the operations branch. Soils in the state have roughly average moisture content -- "not real wet and not real dry," he said. "The issue with corn is getting it in the ground. Corn is a rather delicate crop," O'Lenic said.
The weather phenomenon La Nina wreaked havoc on crops around the world last year, helping to send gain prices above two-year highs. La Nina has peaked, will be moderately strong in April and significantly weakened by June, O'Lenic said. Meteorologists said it's too soon to predict summertime threats from hurricanes in the U.S. or whether spring flooding will impede barge traffic on the Mississippi River. A portion of the river from northeastern Missouri to Minnesota does not open to barges until early April, and the river can carry "a certain amount" of traffic even during a flood, hydrologist Scott Dummer said.

China NDRC Warns Against Salt Hoarding To Stabilize Prices (Source: CME)
China's top economic planning agency warned against hoarding and speculation in table salt, saying the country has ample salt stocks. A statement posted by the National Development & Reform Commission on its website came after retailers reported panic buying of salt in China, which appeared to be linked to consumers believing it could ward off potential radioactivity from Japan's crippled nuclear power plant. The commission said it was responding to "rumors," but didn't refer to the Japanese disaster anywhere in its notice. It blamed "unscrupulous dealers" for "price manipulation" of the common household good, and called on local pricing authorities to carry out price inspections to ensure stable markets. "Supply is absolutely guaranteed," it said. Salt sold in China is mostly iodized as part of a national policy to prevent iodine deficiency disorders. Chinese people are now hoping iodine can reduce the impact of possible radioactivity as the crisis at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant deepens.
"We hope consumers won't believe rumors and won't spread them," the NDRC said. China National Salt Industry Corp., the nation's largest salt supplier, also said Thursday that it will expand production and improve distribution to ensure salt supply.

US inflation pressure bubbles, home building dives
WASHINGTON, March 16 (Reuters) - U.S. producer prices surged in February at their fastest pace in 1-1/2 years, data showed on Wednesday, a day after the Federal Reserve said it had a watchful eye on inflation pressures it expects to subside.
In another reminder on Wednesday of headwinds facing the economy, the government said groundbreaking for new homes posted the biggest drop in 27 years in February and permits for future building reached a record low.

U.S. January brass mill imports, exports up from year ago
NEW YORK, March 16 (Reuters) - U.S. imports of brass mill products increased by 0.4 percent in the first month of the year from the corresponding 2010 period, and exports climbed 2.9 percent, an industry group said late Tuesday.
Imports of all brass mill products into the United States in January grew to 37,088,491 lbs from 36,948,510 lbs in the year-ago period, the Copper and Brass Fabricators Council said in its monthly report.

PRECIOUS-Physical, ETF demand sustain gold
LONDON, March 17 (Reuters) - Gold rose on thursday, sustained by an increase in ETF holdings, stronger physical demand and a weaker dollar, but investor selling to cover losses in other markets limited gains.
"With gold dropping below $1,400 we continue to see good demand in the physical market. At levels above $1,430 we see scrap coming to the market," said Walter de Wet, analyst at Standard Bank. "There's been consistent liquidation ... since last week, following the earthquake."

FOREX-Market on intervention watch, yen near record high
NEW YORK, March 17 (Reuters) - The yen traded near a record high against the U.S. dollar on Thursday, hovering around levels that traders fear could trigger action by the Japan to weaken the currency through direct market intervention.
"We're in unchartered territory at these levels. We lack technical indicators, which makes it hard to establish levels (at which to go long dollars)," said C.J. Gavsie, director of FX sales at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto.

20110318 0848 Soy Oil & Palm Oil Related News.

 Chart reading : correction range bound downside biased possibly testing higher resistance
FCPO is likely to open gap up testing higher resistance.

Soybeans (Source: CME)
US soybean futures rally for the second consecutive session, as prices strengthen on a rebound in outside financial markets. Tight projected US end of year stocks, strong demand and worries of crop losses from heavy rains in Brazil rekindled investor buying interest in the market, said Dave Marshall, independent advisor and broker. The rains in Brazil raised fears of lost yield potential as well as making transportation of grains to export ports difficult, Marshall added. Brazil is the world's second largest producer of soybeans behind the U.S. and counted on to relieve the strain on tight US supplies. CBOT May soybeans were up 48 1/4c or 3.7% at $13.35 1/4.

Soybean Meal/Oil (Source: CME)
Soy product futures soared in unison with soybean futures. Soyoil futures benefitted from the sharp rise in crude oil futures, while soymeal received further support from rising feed grain prices and adjustments in spread relationships between soymeal and soyoil, analysts said. CBOT May soyoil ended 1.56 cents or 2.9% higher at 54.52 cents per pound. May soymeal settled $14.10 or 4.1% higher at $358.60 per short ton.

Bearish soybeans bets build over the near term: Gavin Maguire
CHICAGO, March 16 (Reuters) - Traders have sharply increased bets that 'old crop' soybean prices will endure spells of further weakness over the coming months, but seem to expect new crop prices to retain a bullish bias over the rest of the year.
Within the past month, open interest in put or sell-side options tied to current prices in July futures has more than doubled and is now more than a third larger than call interest in the same contract for the mid-summer slot. In contrast, buy-side interest at the same price in the yet-to-be-planted 2011 soy crop remains more than twice as high as sell-side interest, and has just hit a new peak for that contract as traders continue to brace for fresh strength in the soy market over the longer haul.

Japan worries weigh on palm oil prices
JAKARTA, March 17 (Reuters) - Malaysian palm oil futures dipped as much as 1 percent as persistent uncertainty surrounding the economic impact of the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami weighed on prices.
"It is trading in a tight range," said a trader. "External factors are still full of uncertainty regarding Japan. Whatever happens to Japan will affect the global economy, especially equities."

Corn acres to gain on soy, fall below USDA-Allendale
CHICAGO, March 16 (Reuters) - U.S. farmers will boost corn acreage 3.5 percent this year while cutting back on soybean plantings, as they seek to capitalize on high demand for the grain, a private crop forecaster said on Wednesday.
Both corn and soybean acreage are likely to come in below the U.S. government's most recent estimate of 2011 plantings, according to research and brokerage firm Allendale Inc.