Monday, August 29, 2011

20110829 1133 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia stocks up on Fed hopes;Irene spares NYC
HONG KONG, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Asian stocks opened firmer on Monday morning after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke left the door open for further action to stimulate the economy and fight high unemployment.
U.S. stock futures  also edged higher in early Asian trading as Hurricane Irene, downgraded to tropical storm status, spared the nation's financial centre the worst.

Libya plans to ship crude from Tobruk by end-Sept
BENGHAZI, Libya, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Libya plans to restart production at two eastern oil fields in mid-September and resume shipping oil from Tobruk by the end of the same month, offering relief to European countries reliant on its imports.
Oil production in the OPEC country has been at a virtual stand-still for months as clashes between rebels and troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi have damaged infrastructure and caused foreign workers to flee.

Libya's largest refinery intact, ready
BENGHAZI, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Libya's largest oil refinery, Ras Lanuf, is intact despite intense fighting between rebels and Muammar Gaddafi's troops, and staff are preparing to restart operations, its general manager told Reuters in an interview.
The oil town of Ras Lanuf was until a few days ago under the control of Gaddafi's forces and the front line is only about 25 km (15 miles) to the west.

Oil rises as Irene targets U.S. East Coast
NEW YORK, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Oil prices rose in choppy trade on Friday as Hurricane Irene targeted the U.S. East Coast and traders weighed comments by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the economy.
"The bigger picture here is that Bernanke appears to have enough confidence that the economy is not going to worsen and so he thinks there is no need for a QE3 at this time," said Andy Lebow, broker at MF Global in New York.

NYMEX-Natural gas ends flat to up slightly as shorts cover
NEW YORK, Aug 26 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures ended flat to slightly higher on Friday, underpinned by short covering ahead of the weekend and warmer extended U.S. weather forecasts despite concerns about growing supplies.
"There may have been some anxiety over the storm (Irene), and temperature forecasts look a little warmer for the whole country next week," said Steve Mosley at SMC Advisory Services.

Euro Coal-Prices steady on utility buying
LONDON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Prompt physical coal prices were little changed on Friday after after recovering from earlier losses on utility and trader buying ahead of a UK Bank Holiday on Monday.
"There have been quite a few trades today, mostly one utility buying but they weren't the highest bidder today, that was a trader," one European trader said.

COMMODITIES-Gold up on Fed, other markets eye Hurricane Irene
NEW YORK, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Gold closed up on Friday and oil and metals rebounded from early losses after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke left the door open to new stimulus to help the U.S. economy and reduce unemployment.
"I think its going to take a while for the market to digest these comments. One thing is clear, he is saying that the economy is likely to get worse before it gets better," said Alfredo Barbutti, economist at BGC Liquidez, a unit of U.S. brokerage BGC Partners Ltd.

20110829 1026 Local & Global Economic Related News.

Broad money (M3) expanded at a slower annual rate of 11.6% in July (12.4% in Jun). Net  financing to the private sector grew at a slower pace of 12.7% in July (12.9% in Jun) due  to a moderation in  outstanding loans (12.9% vs. 13.5% in Jun) and net issuances of  private debt securities.  (Bank Negara Malaysia)

PM Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on last Friday announced the establishment of a RM2bn  Facilitation Fund for the use of Bumiputera companies that qualify through Teraju or the  Bumiputera Agenda Coordinating Unit. The set-up of the fund, a result of joint efforts  between Teraju and the Public-Private Partnership Unit, will be for the use of qualified  Bumiputera companies in the Entry Point Project initiatives.  
• The fund will also be a catalyst for Bumiputera companies to carry out big projects with a  minimum qualifying project investment value of RM20m.  
• Based on Teraju's estimates, the fund is expected to generate more than RM10bn in  private investments. (Bernama)  

More than RM8bn worth of projects will be awarded to bumiputra companies as part of  the MY Rapid Transit (MRT) project, according to PM Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. He  said several packages in the RM20bn project had been specially allocated to bumiputra contractors. The packages are civil and infrastructure works, Tenaga Nasional Bhd power  supply, centralised procurement, tunnel and underground works, and MRT systems, PM  said. (The Star)  

PM Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on last Saturday launched 250 1Malaysia D'Mart shops  at Felda schemes throughout the country. With the shops, people at Felda can save up to  40% in expenses, and this will be of great help to them, he noted. (Bernama)  

Bank Negara Malaysia Governor  Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz is among six heads of  central banks to be named  World Top Central Bankers for 2011. She received the  impressive rating from the Global Finance magazine  together with Amando Tetangco of  the Philippines, Taiwan's Fai-Nan Perng, Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn  Stevens and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer. Zeti was similarly rated last year.  (Bernama)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the central bank still has tools to  stimulate a recovery that has been weaker than forecast while sticking to his view that  growth will pick up. Bernanke, in a speech on 26 Aug to central bankers and economists at  an annual forum in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, didn’t give details on the measures the Fed  might take or signal when or whether policy makers might deploy them. A second day has  been added to the next Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Sep to “allow a fuller  discussion” of the economy and the Fed’s possible response, Bernanke said. (Bloomberg)

 The  U.S. economy grew less than previously estimated in 2Q, capping the weakest six  months of the recovery that began in mid-2009. Gross domestic product climbed at a 1%  annual rate in 2Q, down from a 1.3% prior estimate, revised Commerce Department  figures showed. Economists called for a 1.1% increase. The reduction reflected a smaller  increase in inventories and fewer exports. (Bloomberg)  

U.S. real personal consumption expenditures edged up a meager 0.4% in 2Q, compared  with an increase of 2.1% in 1Q. Economists expected a reading of 0.2% in 2Q. (Xinhua,  Bloomberg)  

The price index for U.S. gross domestic purchases increased 3.3% in 2Q, an upward  revision of 0.1% pt. The upward revision to prices was primarily to personal consumption  expenditures and reflected an upward revision to the price for financial services based on  Call Report data. Economists expected a reading of 2.3%. (Bloomberg)  

U.S. consumer confidence dropped in Aug to the lowest level since Nov 08, pointing to little  pickup the biggest part of the economy. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final  index of consumer sentiment fell to 55.7 in Aug (63.7 in Jul). Economists projected a  reading at 55.8 after a preliminary reading of 54.9. (Bloomberg)  

Japan’s  core consumer price index (CPI), which includes oil products but excludes  volatile prices of fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood, rose 0.1% yoy in Jul (-0.2% in Jun).  Economists estimated a 0.1% fall. (Reuters)  

 Japan’s so-called core-core inflation index, which excludes food and energy prices and  is similar to the core index used in the United States, fell 0.5% in Jul (-0.8% in Jun).  Economists expected a reading of -0.6% in Jul. (Reuters, Bloomberg)  

Singapore reported that growth in industrial production slowed to 7.4% yoy in Jul (+10.7%  in Jun). Economists expected a reading of 9.0% in Jul. (Bloomberg)  

Thailand’s  manufacturing output fell 1.1% yoy in Jul (+3.8% in Jun). Economists  expected a reading of 5.9%. (Reuters)  

International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde warned that the world  economy is in a “dangerous new phase” and that officials must take new steps to  strengthen growth. Lagarde said the U.S. should arrest a slide in house prices and  European banks must be required to boost capital to prevent the continent’s debt crisis  from infecting more countries. The U.S. and European  Union should enforce long-term  budget discipline to free up cash for short- term stimulus, she said. (Bloomberg)  

The Philippines’ monetary policy is appropriate “for the moment” as it closely monitors  how global developments, including the Federal Reserve’s policy, impact capital flows and  commodity prices, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco said. “Should  the current environment shift, the BSP is ready to make any necessary changes to ensure  that inflation expectations remain well-anchored and inflation is kept within target,”  Tetangco said. (Bloomberg)  

Chinese industrial companies’ profits rose 28.3% yoy in the first seven months (28.7%  in 1H), helping to support the expansion of the world’s fastest-growing major economy. Net  income climbed to Rmb2.8tr (US$438bn), the National Bureau of Statistics said (Rmb2.4tr  in 1H). (Bloomberg)

China has ordered banks to include their margin deposits in  required reserves at the  central bank to mop up excessive liquidity, banking sources said, the latest move in  Beijing's campaign to rein in worrisome inflation. Commercial banks will be required to include margin deposits paid by their clients to secure the issuance of banker's  acceptance, letters of guarantee and letters of credit in their required reserves. Such  deposits amounted to Rmb4.4tr (US$688.6bn) at the end of Jul, according to central bank  data. (Reuters)  

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said the  U.S. economy features  regional diversity similar to that of the euro area, urging policy makers to restructure their  economies to promote smoother growth. (Bloomberg)  

Japan approved a bill to subsidize electricity from renewable sources, joining European  nations in shifting away from nuclear power after the Fukushima reactor meltdowns in Mar.  (Bloomberg)

20110829 1024 Malaysia Corporate Related News.

The recent decline in  CIMB Group’s share price was due to selling by foreign  shareholders amid concerns of slower growth, according to its CEO, Datuk Seri Nazir  Razak. (Business Times)  

San Miguel Corp (SMC) plans to invest up to US$1bn (RM3bn) over three to five years to  upgrade a Port Dickson oil refinery it is buying from ExxonMobil Corp.
• Recently, SMC signed a deal to buy ExxonMobil’s Malaysia business. The deal costs  SMC a total of RM1.8bn and is expected to take six  months to complete. (Business  Times)  

Bintulu Port has engaged KTA (Sarawak) to carry out a detailed design for the proposed  Samalaju Port, a crucial component of the SCORE to serve energy-intensive industries.  (Star Biz)  

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) confirmed it would proceed to join the oneworld alliance by the  middle of 2012 and will review its product offerings in the new A380 and A330 to ensure  “best in class” service as part of its drive to be a premium airline.
• With the combination of oneworld membership, ‘best-in-class’ product and the airline’s  world renowned service standards, MAS is confident that revenues and yields would  improve, and that 2012 would see a positive turnaround for the airlines finances.
• The impending oneworld membership will also lead to easier transfers, code-shares,  joint ventures and greater route access amongst alliance partners, as well as benefit  passengers in terms of miles points, lounge and other rewards”. (Malaysian Insider)  

WTK expects the average price of Sarawak’s round-log, which surged more than 50% in  the first half of this year to remain firm due to tight supply as production has fallen  significantly. (Star Biz)  

Malaysian Biotechnology Corp is working with other government agencies and industry  players to draft a biomass initiative which will ensure that the industry has sufficient raw  materials.
• BiotechCorp is working at enhancing the ‘bioeconomy’ in terms of the policy on biofuel  as well as the strategy on industrial biotechnology and agro-biotech. (Star Biz)  

The  Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) has emerged as a  substantial shareholder in Parkson Holdings with a 5.03% stake. (Financial Daily)

Sime Darby agrees to acquire 30% of E&O
Sime Darby has agreed to buy 30% of Eastern & Oriental (E&O), a developer with large projects on Penang island, sources said. Sime will buy the shares from two parties, believed to be GK Goh Holdings and Puan Sri Nik Anida, the wife of Tan Sri Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah. Based on the latest Bursa Malaysia filings, Nik Anida has an indirect stake of 11.86% while GK Goh Holdings holds another 11.23%. Sources said E&O will also issue new shares to Sime. (BT)

Pan Malaysia receives takeover offer from consortium
Pan Malaysia Industries Bhd (PMI) told Bursa Malaysia on Friday that it had received an unconditional takeover offer from a consortium of three companies at a cash offer price of 4.5 sen for each offer share. The joint offerors – comprising Soo Lay Holdings SB, and Hong Kong-incorporated Norcoss Ltd and Cherubim Investment (HK) Ltd – were looking at acquiring all the remaining 558m ordinary shares of five sen each in PMI. (StarBiz)

PPB banks on overseas operations
Diversified conglomerate PPB Group sees overseas business as the main driver of its future growth. “Our income rise is mainly due to the higher sales of flour in Indonesia and Vietnam,” said its managing director Tan Gee Sooi. He said PPB is looking at increasing the production capacity of its flour mills in Indonesia and Vietnam by 100%. (BT)

20110829 1004 Global Market Related News.

Asia Stocks Climb for Third Day (Source: Bloomberg)
Asian stocks advanced for a third day after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the U.S. economy is slowly recovering and the central bank has more means to prop up growth if appropriate. Elpida Memory Inc., a maker of computer-memory chips that gets about 11 percent of sales from the U.S., jumped 7.1 percent in Tokyo. James Hardie Industries SE (JHX), a building materials supplier that counts the U.S. as its largest market, gained 1.9 percent in Sydney. Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second- biggest oil and gas producer, rose 2.1 percent after crude oil futures increased. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.6 percent to 120.98 as of 10:08 a.m. in Tokyo. Almost twice as many shares rose as fell in the gauge. The measure snapped four weeks of losses last week on speculation Bernanke would foreshadow measures to shore up the U.S. recovery. The Fed chief didn’t announce new economic stimulus and instead decided to extend next month’s policy meeting to a second day.

Central Bankers Urge Governments on Expansion (Source: Bloomberg)
Central bankers gathered at an annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this weekend had a message for political leaders: monetary policy alone can’t keep the global expansion going. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke urged adoption of “good, proactive housing policies” to reverse the depressed U.S. real estate market and warned lawmakers to avoid steps that may hurt short-term growth. Ewald Nowotny of the European Central Bank Governing Council said euro-area governments should expand the powers of their regional bailout fund. “Most of the economic policies that support robust economic growth in the long run are outside the province of the central bank,” Bernanke said at the annual conference of policy makers and economists, sponsored by the Kansas City Fed.

GLOBAL MARKETS - Bernanke ahead, European stocks take hit
LONDON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - European shares and the dollar fell on Friday, with markets playing down chances of a major shift towards further economic stimulus from U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke later in the day.
"With many traders feeling like we're standing on the edge looking down into a global recession, Bernanke has   the ability to significantly elate or deflate the markets today," said Jonathan Sudaria, dealer at Capital Spreads.

Bernanke ahead, European stocks take hit
LONDON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - European shares and the dollar fell, with markets playing down chances of a major shift towards further economic stimulus from U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke later in the day.
"With many traders feeling like we're standing on the edge looking down into a global recession, Bernanke has   the ability to significantly elate or deflate the markets today," said Jonathan Sudaria, dealer at Capital Spreads.

Financial Markets Will Be Open Monday After Dodging Worst of Irene’s Wrath (Source: Bloomberg)
U.S. stock, bond and commodity markets will open as usual tomorrow after Manhattan was spared the worst of Hurricane Irene, avoiding the first shutdown due to weather since 1985. NYSE Euronext (NYX), Nasdaq OMX Group, Bats Global Markets and Direct Edge Holdings LLC -- the largest operators of equity exchanges in the world’s biggest capital market -- sent statements saying they plan normal trading sessions tomorrow. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association recommended no change to bond-market schedules, and CME Group Inc. (CME) said the New York Mercantile Exchange will open. “Exchanges had prepared for the worst, and thankfully the worst didn’t materialize,” Chris Isaacson, the chief operating officer at Bats, said in a phone interview. “The U.S. securities industry is very resilient,” he said. “Because of the electronification of markets, most systems are not dependent on humans being there.”

U.S. Stocks Rally as S&P 500 Index Ends Biggest Weekly Retreat Since 2009 (Source: Bloomberg)
U.S. stocks rose, breaking a four- week losing streak in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke indicated the world’s largest economy isn’t deteriorating fast enough to warrant additional stimulus. Bank of America Corp. (BAC) rallied 11 percent after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. invested $5 billion. Tiffany & Co. (TIF) surged 20 percent after raising its earnings forecast. MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. (WFR) jumped 18 percent, leading a rally in solar stocks, as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the industry is close to bottoming. Apple Inc. (AAPL) rose 7.7 percent even after Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs quit. Travelers Cos. slumped 2.4 percent as Hurricane Irene headed for the U.S. East Coast. The S&P 500 rose 4.7 percent to 1,176.80 this week. The index lost 16 percent between July 22 and Aug. 19, the most in four weeks since March 2009. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 466.89 points, or 4.3 percent, to 11,284.54 this week.

U.S. Employment Probably Slowed in August (Source: Bloomberg)
Hiring probably slowed in August and U.S. manufacturing contracted for the first time in two years as Americans lost confidence that the recovery will be sustained, economists said before reports this week. Payrolls climbed by 75,000 workers after a 117,000 increase in July, according to the median forecast of 65 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News before Labor Department data Sept. 2. Factories pulled back last month for the first time since July 2009, a report the previous day may show. The first U.S. credit downgrade in history, political squabbling over the budget and mounting concern over a default in Europe caused the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to plunge 17 percent from July 22 to Aug. 8, probably prompting American companies and consumers to cut back. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke last week said the recovery had been “less robust” than hoped and reiterated that the central bank still has tools to stimulate growth.

Irene Cuts Electricity to Almost 6 Million on East Coast (Source: Bloomberg)
Almost 6 million U.S. homes and businesses were without power as a weakening Tropical Storm Irene moved into New England and utilities began assessing damage in the wake of the storm. Power disruptions affected 13 states and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Energy Department said in a report today. Irene first hit the coast of North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane yesterday. More than 800,000 customers were without power in Virginia and Maryland. Maine was the latest state added to the department’s list, with about 116,000 customers lacking power. Falling trees and debris dragged down power lines and winds blew over electrical poles, cutting electricity supplies to 471,000 customers on Long Island, east of where the storm made its second landfall today, the Long Island Power Authority said. More than 900,000 lost power in the state, according to a 1 p.m. report from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Dollar Undervalued in Purchasing Parity as Investors Seek Shelter From S&P (Source: Bloomberg)
The dollar is poised for its biggest monthly gain since May, reclaiming its status as a haven while Switzerland and Japan boost efforts to weaken their currencies. The U.S. currency has appreciated 1.2 percent in August against a basket of the developed world’s nine most-traded exchange rates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with a decline of 14 percent in the world’s reserve currency from this time last year through July. Demand for America’s assets is rising even though the Federal Reserve has pledged to keep its benchmark interest rate near zero through mid-2013 and Standard & Poor’s cut the nation’s credit rating from AAA. The two other currencies considered havens in times of financial and political strife -- the Swiss franc and yen -- are under siege by their governments and central banks after rising to records.

New York City Area Avoids Serious Damage as Irene Weakens on Path to North (Source: Bloomberg)
New York City residents returned to Manhattan streets, yellow taxis began plying their usual routes and equity markets planned to open after Irene passed through as a tropical storm, less severe than the hurricane local officials feared. While subways and buses may not be restored to full service right away, and airports may not return to regular operations until tomorrow, bridges and tunnels and major highways that had closed in high winds opened. More than 1.7 million lost power as the storm swept through New York and New Jersey, parts of which remained flooded. In the city, water closed some highways, such as the Belt Parkway along the south Brooklyn shore. Metro-North commuter trains that link Manhattan with suburbs in Westchester and Connecticut will be out indefinitely due to track damage, according to Marjorie Anders, Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokeswoman.

Treasuries Snap Gain After Bernanke Soothes Concern of Recession in U.S. (Source: Bloomberg)
Treasuries snapped a two-day gain after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke eased concern that the U.S. is headed for a recession. The Fed’s pledge to keep interest rates near zero until mid-2013 will underpin growth, economists say. Bernanke’s comments in a speech Aug. 26 reassured investors who had driven Treasury yields to record lows this month and sent the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index down almost 9 percent as U.S. economic growth slowed. “Sell bonds and buy stocks,” said Hiroki Shimazu, an economist in Tokyo at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., a unit of Japan’s third-largest publicly traded bank by assets. “Stocks have priced in a recession. We expect the economy to improve in the second half of the year.”

China to Lock Up More Cash to Tighten Liquidity (Source: Bloomberg)
China broadened the base of reserves it requires commercial lenders to deposit with the central bank to control liquidity and limit inflation, economists said. Reserve requirements are being extended to customers’ margin deposits, a move that may drain 900 billion yuan ($140 billion) from the banking system over six months, Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Lu Ting said in an e-mailed note on Aug. 26. Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. cited similar information. A central bank press official declined to comment. China has already raised reserve ratios to a record 21.5 percent for the biggest banks to counter the fastest inflation since 2008. London-based Capital Economics Ltd. said that the reported move may mean no further increases this year, after previously anticipating another 1 percentage point gain by the end of December.

China’s Stocks Raised to ‘Overweight’ at Macquarie on Inflation, Economy (Source: Bloomberg)
China’s stocks were raised to “overweight” from “neutral” at Macquarie Bank Ltd. as data signal inflation is being contained and there’s no risk of a so- called hard landing for the economy. “China’s policymakers are likely shifting back to a more balanced emphasis on both growth and inflation,” Michael Kurtz, Hong Kong-based head of Asian strategy at Macquarie, said in a report distributed on Aug. 27. “The mere fact that inflation is now better contained substantially reduces risks of policy oversteps and unwelcome growth downside, going forward.”

Japan Stocks Swing Between Gains, Losses as U.S. Reports May Show Slowdown (Source: Bloomberg)
Japanese stocks swung between gains and losses ahead of U.S. reports that may show an economic slowdown and as the yen rose versus the dollar after the Federal Reserve failed to rule out further economic stimulus. Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), the world’s largest carmaker, lost 2.1 percent while Honda Motor Co., which receives 40 percent of its sales from North America, declined 2.1 percent. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (9107), Japan’s third-largest shipper by market value, jumped 2.6 percent after Nomura Holdings Inc. said it was “bullish” on the nation’s shipping industry. The Nikkei 225 (NKY) Stock Average rose 0.1 percent to 8,806.7 as of 10:26 a.m. in Tokyo, reversing an earlier loss of as much as 0.5 percent. The broader Topix index was little changed at 755.99, after earlier rising as much as 0.4 percent and falling as much as 0.6 percent.

South Korea July Current-Account Surplus Widens to Highest in Nine Months (Source: Bloomberg)
South Korea’s current-account surplus widened to a 9-month high in July even as a stronger won eroded the competitiveness of exports. The excess was $4.94 billion, compared with a revised $2.03 billion in June, the Bank of Korea said in a statement in Seoul today. The current account is the broadest measure of trade, tracking goods, services and investment income. The Bank of Korea raised its forecast for this year’s current-account surplus to $15.5 billion from $11 billion last month, citing strong export growth and stabilizing raw-material costs. Still, the global slowdown threatens to crimp demand for Asian exports, posing a bigger dilemma for South Korean policy makers already struggling with quickening inflation.

South Korean Won Gains, Government Bonds Fall on Surplus, Bernanke Speech (Source: Bloomberg)
South Korea’s won rose for a second day and government bonds fell as the current-account surplus widened to a nine-month high and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke expressed confidence in the U.S. economy. The Bank of Korea said today the current-account surplus rose to $4.94 billion in July, from a revised $2.03 billion in June. Bernanke said the “growth fundamentals” of the U.S. economy haven’t been altered by the shocks of the past four years, adding that the Fed has tools to spur expansion, in a speech to central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Aug. 26. “Market players are interpreting Bernanke’s speech in an optimistic way, weighing possibilities for another stimulus in the near future,” said Ryoo Hyun Jung, chief currency dealer with Citibank Inc. in Seoul. “The speech has shifted sentiment from risk-averse to some risk-taking.”

U.K. Housing Demand Weaken Further After August Price Drop, Hometrack Says (Source: Bloomberg)
U.K. house prices fell for a fourth month in August and demand for homes may weaken further this year, property researcher Hometrack Ltd. said. The average cost of a home slipped 0.1 percent from July and was down 3.7 percent from a year earlier, the London-based firm said today in an e-mailed report on its monthly survey of real-estate agents. In London, prices increased by 0.1 percent. “Weak consumer sentiment, pressure on household incomes and the uncertain economic outlook are likely to see demand weaken further over the remainder of the year,” Richard Donnell, Hometrack’s director of research, said in a statement. “This is likely to accelerate the downward pressure on prices over the autumn.”

IMF’s Lagarde Urges Support for World Economy in a ‘Dangerous New Phase’ (Source: Bloomberg)
Christine Lagarde, the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund chief, warned that the world economy is in a “dangerous new phase” and that officials must take new steps to strengthen growth. Lagarde, speaking to international finance officials and economists in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, said the U.S. should arrest a slide in house prices and European banks must be required to boost capital to prevent the continent’s debt crisis from infecting more countries. The U.S. and European Union should enforce long-term budget discipline to free up cash for short- term stimulus, she said. “We risk seeing the fragile recovery derailed,” Lagarde, 55, said. “So we must act now.”

Trichet Says Regional Economic Diversity in U.S. Is Similar to Euro Area’s (Source: Bloomberg)
European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said the U.S. economy features regional diversity similar to that of the euro area, urging policy makers to restructure their economies to promote smoother growth. It is “often assumed that the U.S. economy would be significantly more homogenous than the economy of the euro area,” Trichet said today to a forum of central bankers and economists in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “Looking more closely at the regional dispersion across U.S. regions and euro area economies does not confirm this.” The speech, based on new analysis from the Frankfurt-based ECB of 14 U.S. cities, sounds a rejoinder to economists such as Harvard University’s Martin Feldstein, who said before the euro’s 1999 birth that it would prove tough to unite individual economies under the umbrella of a single currency and interest rate.

20110829 1003 Global Commodities Related News.

Corn (Source: CME)
US corn futures soar on supply worries, fresh export demand and outside market support. Prices pushed past recent technical resistance at $7.50/bushel as a stream of troubling reports of this year's crop continue to emerge. Traders say gains came in part amid anticipation of Pro Farmer crop tour yield projection, released after the close, at 147.9 bushels/acre. "It's confirmation of everybody's suspicions," RJ O'Brien analyst Rich Feltes says. Surprising sales of more than 360k metric tons of corn to unknown destinations added to the bullish tone. CBOT Sept corn up 2.8% to $7.55; Dec corn up 22 1/2c to $7.68. Dec corn up 5.9% for the week.

Wheat (Source: CME)
U.S. wheat futures end higher, following a sharp rally in corn and soybeans. The market was boosted by equities, traders said, and dragged higher as corn and soybeans jumped 2% to 3% in the session. Wheat subdued by comparison, as scattered crop concerns are balanced by ample Black Sea supplies. Still, wheat will continue to climb if corn gains, traders say. Both are used as animal feed. Sep CBOT wheat ends up 5c, or 0.7%, to $7.62 1/4. MGEX wheat, supported by worries about the spring wheat harvest, climbed 2.3%, or 21 1/2c, to $9.56 1/4, and KCBT wheat ended up 2.2%, or 18 1/4c, to $8.66.

Rice (Source: CME)
U.S. rice futures end higher on tightening supplies and outside market support. Market climbed along with corn and soybeans, which surged on supply worries. Traders say U.S. rice crop troubles priced in, but Doane analyst Bill Nelson notes that a USDA report on domestic rice stockpiles shows supplies are smaller than previously thought. CBOT Sep rice up 24c, or 1.4%, to $16.99.

Glencore sees opportunities in volatility as H1 rises
LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Commodities trader Glencore International Plc  warned of volatility ahead in its key markets but saw opportunities in the turbulence as demand remains strong, with resilient prices helping to boost its first-half profit by 50 percent.
A robust outlook and a more modest than expected quarter-on-quarter drop in its closely watched marketing business -- which trades commodities from grains to oil -- comforted investors, who sent the stock up as much as 6 percent.

Orders for LNG-powered ships to surge
LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Orders for ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) could triple in the next year as stricter emissions targets drive a switch to cleaner-burning fuels, said a risk management firm DNV.
"By 2014 we should have at least 100 ships delivered," according to Lars Petter Blikom, director of LNG business development at DNV.

Pro Farmer Pegs 2011 US Corn Crop At 12.484 Billion Bushels (Source: CME)
Professional Farmers of America forecast the U.S. corn crop at 12.484 billion bushels, well below federal expectations, raising concerns the coming harvest won't replenish already tight inventories. The group, known as Pro Farmer, projected the U.S. soybean harvest above federal expectations, pegging it at 3.083 billion bushels. Pro Farmer estimated an average corn yield of 147.9 bushels an acre, while putting the average soybean yield at 41.8 bushels an acre. Pro Farmer's estimates came at the end of its annual tour through the U.S. corn belt to inspect the crop ahead of the fall harvest. Tour findings are only one part of how Pro Farmer arrives at its forecast. The forecast for the corn crop fell well below a closely watched federal estimate released earlier this month. Participants on the crop tour said a combination of stress from summer heat and dryness coupled with storm damage hampered corn yields.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this month estimated corn production at 12.914 billion bushels, with an average yield of 153 bushels an acre. Last year, the U.S. corn crop came in at 12.447 billion bushels with an average yield of 152.8 bushels an acre. The average yield for the U.S. crop hasn't been below 150 bushels an acre since 2006. Corn for December delivery closed up 23 1/2 cents, or 3.2%, at $7.67 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. Prices climbed 5.9% this week as reports from the tour filtered back. The final Pro Farmer estimates were released after the market closed. As expected, the tour found the eastern U.S. corn belt on track for lower yields from a year ago. More surprising was the western corn belt where the tour found yields weren't strong enough to make up for the expected losses in the east, said Terry Johnston, a consultant for the Pro Farmer crop tour.
Tim Gregerson, a farmer from Nebraska who traveled on the tour's western leg, said the tour reaffirmed concerns that corn supplies will remain tight in 2012. Going into the harvest, the USDA estimates corn inventories at a 15-year low, while demand for the grain remains strong. As for soybeans, the crop has "good potential with no disease or insect problems, but will need some moisture in the next few weeks for the crop to finish the growing season well," said Chip Flory, editor of the Pro Farmer Newsletter. Federal forecasters earlier this month estimated the U.S. soybean crop at 3.056 billion bushels, with an average yield of 41.4 bushels an acre.

China Raises Capital Requirements For Seed Producers -Ministry (Source: CME)
China's Ministry of Agriculture published new measures, governing the nation's fragmented seed market, requiring increased registered capital and assets. The new measures aim to increase competitiveness and innovation in the domestic seed sector and to encourage mergers and acquisitions, the ministry said in a statement on its website. Effective as of September 25 this year, hybrid rice and hybrid corn seed producers must have minimum registered capital of CNY30 million, compared with CNY5 million now, it said. Companies producing other crop seeds must have minimum registered capital of CNY5 million. The measures don't apply to genetically modified seeds. Seed importers and exporters must have minimum registered capital of CNY30 million, up from CNY10 million now, the statement said.
China has more than 8,700 licensed seed companies, two-thirds of them small- and medium-sized firms with registered capital between CNY1-5 million. More than 90% of China's seed firms don't have research and development capacity, it said.

Canadian Wheat Board Facing Uncertain Future, Chairman Says (Source: CME)
The current crop year could be the last for the Canadian Wheat Board, if changes proposed by the federal government are put in place to end its marketing powers in time for the 2012-13 crop year, Chairman Allen Oberg said. "Whatever the future holds, one thing is certain, if the single desk is eliminated, the landscape of Prairie wheat marketing will change drastically," Oberg said at a news conference. "The CWB will end. If a new organization is created, it will bear no resemblance to the CWB that exists today." Canada's majority Conservative government intends to introduce legislation this fall to end the CWB's current single desk marketing powers for western Canadian wheat and barley. The government also intends to change the CWB Act in order to remove the need for a farmer plebiscite.
The CWB recently conducted its own survey of farmers and will release the results Sept. 9. Oberg said the CWB's farmer-controlled board of directors is calling on the federal government to respect the results and abide by the wishes of Prairie farmers. "We as Prairie farmers are facing an uncertain future," Oberg said. "The government intends to take our marketing power away. "We have not been consulted, nor has there been any government analysis of the impact on farm families and the grain industry from dismantling an economic model that adds an extra half billion dollars a year for Prairie farmers," he said. "The future is far from clear at this point, but whatever happens we must all work to ensure that farmers' interests are not put last."

Ukraine Mulls Scrapping New Grain Duty After July Exports Plummet (Source: CME)
The Ukrainian agriculture ministry has drafted amendments to the current legislation aimed at abolishing the present grain export taxes, deputy head of the ministry's agricultural markets department said. Anatoly Razgon said: "The government is not satisfied with the current pace of grain export," the ministry's press service reported. As a result of the imposition of export duties, Ukraine's grain export fell in July to 300,000 metric tons from 1.5 million tons in June. Ukrainian exporters cannot compete with their Russian counterparts, whose grain is at least $30 per ton cheaper, Razgon said in Kiev. "We have submitted our proposals to the Economy Ministry. I think the draft will be approved shortly," he said. The government imposed export duties on grain on July 1 as a result of last year's drought. Wheat export duty is 9% of the contract price but not less than EUR17 per metric ton. The corn export duty is 12% but not less than EUR20 per ton. The barley export duty is 14% but not less than EUR23 per ton.

Wall Street Goes Down On Farm For Real Dirt (Source: CME)
Jake Rothman, an analyst at Boston hedge-fund firm Mayo Capital Partners, slogged through a muddy cornfield near Remington, Ind, looking for clues about the size of this year's U.S. crop. Wearing an oversized raincoat borrowed from a farmer, the 35-year-old Mr. Rothman worked his way down one row until he was hidden in the tightly packed cornstalks. "There's more uncertainty this year," he said while riding in a van to the next field. The coming harvest will affect grain processor Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., fertilizer maker CF Industries Holdings Inc. and other agriculture companies followed by Mr. Rothman. Across the Midwest, dozens of analysts and investors are tramping corn and soybean fields this week in an annual ritual aimed at giving them an edge on their Wall Street rivals.
The four-day, seven-state marathon costs $80, not including travel costs, and is organized by Pro Farmer, an agriculture advisory firm. Participants walk dozens of fields and get details from farmers about the number of bushels likely to be harvested from each acre. Instead of relying on the spreadsheets left behind on their office computers, analysts and investors on the "corn tour" become "scouts" who disappear into each field with a 30-foot-long yellow rope. They run the rope along a row of stalks and count the number of ears. Along the 30-foot section, the scouts pull off the fifth, eighth and 11th ears -- and then rip off the husks to count the number of kernels along the circumference of each ear. The scouts put their arms up in front of their faces to protect themselves from sharply edged corn leaves.
Pro Farmer plans to release a forecast for the average U.S. corn yield, or the projected harvest by acre. The annual measurement often moves commodity and stock prices, and it will be watched closely as traders debate by how much the U.S. Department of Agriculture will reduce its forecast next month. On Thursday, corn for delivery in September rose 0.1% to a two-month high of $7.3225 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. Corn futures are up 16% so far this year. The crop tour gives analysts and investors some down-to-earth numbers, gut instinct and dirty hands to go with the government's official data. Expectations are for a large corn crop, but no longer the record haul predicted earlier this year. Exact figures won't be known until farm combines have harvested tens of millions of acres, which will take months. The crop's size will ripple through the economy and financial markets.
Even though the U.S. continues to produce crops that are massive by historical standards, farmers can't keep up with world demand. U.S. forecasters predict that the nation's crop will fall short of demand by 246 million bushels in the next year. That will shrink inventories used to help prevent supply shortages. Also worrisome this year is the vast difference in the quality of corn growing in key corn-producing states. Because of all the unanswered questions, demand for the crop tour was so high this year that organizers turned people away for the first time in its 19-year history. Among those who got in were employees of Credit Suisse Group AG, mutual-fund manager OppenheimerFunds Inc. and private-equity firm Bain Capital Partners LLC. Securities firm Morgan Stanley brought along its own bus, with 17 people on board. Crop-tour participants without a seat on the bus joked that Morgan Stanley was on the "Gucci tour."
Morgan Stanley noted that it was a past participant in the tour and that it organized a bus in 2010. Hussein Allidina, head of commodities research at Morgan Stanley, says traveling to the farm belt can unlock important details like whether farmers will abandon rotating crops in favor of trying to plant as much corn as possible. "The key thing is meeting the farmers and appreciating the psychology," he says. Mr. Allidina had gone on the tour in the past but didn't attend this year.

Rice May Rally 22% on Thai Buying (Source: Bloomberg)
Rice may rally 22 percent by yearend as Thailand, the world’s largest exporter, buys the grain from farmers at above-market rates, pushing up costs for importers and fanning global inflation even as economic growth slows. The price of 100 percent grade-B Thai rice, the regional benchmark, may rally to $750 per metric ton by Dec. 31, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of seven exporters, traders and millers conducted last week. That target is $50 higher than the median estimate in a separate Bloomberg survey undertaken in the first half of this month. The surge may complicate matters for central bankers and policy makers around Asia who are already struggling to cool rising prices. Rice was the only grain separating the world from a food crisis, Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization, or FAO, said in February when worldwide food costs rallied to a record.

Sugar up, crop concerns in China, Brazil support
LONDON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Soft commodities rose , boosted by the weaker dollar, as agricultural markets continued to show resilience in the face of the global economic slowdown.
Raw sugar futures were higher in early trading, boosted by further reductions to top producer Brazil's crop prospects and concerns of dry weather reducing China's output.

Drought continues in China's top sugar region
BEIJING, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Showers earlier this week failed to end a lingering drought in China's top sugar region of Guangxi, which produces about 60 percent of the country's total sugar output, local agriculture officials said on Friday.
"We have some rains, but only in parts of the region. Some areas do not have enough and canes have already withered," an official with the Guangxi agriculture bureau told Reuters.
Asia Cocoa-Bloom period in Sulawesi; powder prices up
SINGAPORE, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Cocoa trees have started to bloom ahead of the mid-crop in Indonesia's main growing island of Sulawesi, but dry weather may limit overall production this year, dealers said on Friday.
Output in the world's third-largest producer after Ivory Coast and Ghana could fall about 33 percent to 400,000 tonnes in 2011 due to extreme wet weather earlier this year, which caused the spread of a deadly fungal disease   "Flowering has started but it's extremely hot here. I don't think the crop will yield much because the weather is not supportive," said a dealer in Makassar, the provincial capital of South Sulawesi.

Tight coffee supply to embolden Brazil producers
BRASILIA, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Coffee producers in Brazil, the world's top grower, will have the upper hand in trading their stocks in the long inter-harvest from October to May with a smaller 'off year' crop to sell and growing demand.
Global demand for the popular caffeine drink has continued to grow despite the economic storms of the past few years while supply growth lagged, as Brazil's trees take time to respond to improved use of inputs and husbandry.

Brazil sugar output down 11 pct so far on year
BRASILIA, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Sugar and ethanol output remained at a slower pace in the first half of August, as expected, cane industry association Unica said on Thursday, as analysts' forecasts for the crop only grew gloomier.
Sugar production in Brazil's center-south reached 17.4 million tonnes from the start of the season to Aug. 16, down 11 percent from the same date a year earlier, cane industry association Unica said on Thursday.

Orders for LNG-powered ships to surge
LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Orders for ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) could triple in the next year as stricter emissions targets drive a switch to cleaner-burning fuels, said a risk management firm DNV.
"By 2014 we should have at least 100 ships delivered," according to Lars Petter Blikom, director of LNG business development at DNV.

Oil Trades Near Three-Day High; Refineries Normal as Irene Heads to Canada (Source: Bloomberg)
Oil traded near a three-day high in New York as investors speculated that growth will recover in the U.S., spurring demand in the biggest crude consumer. Refineries resumed output as Tropical Storm Irene headed toward Canada. Futures fluctuated after climbing as much as 0.4 percent. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said on Aug. 26 that U.S. growth is safe in the long run and the Fed still can aid the recovery. Oil refiners along the East Coast were operating plants at or near normal levels after Irene weakened from a hurricane. Rebels in Libya claimed full control of the country’s oil fields.
“Bernanke is suggesting that there are some good, some negative economic indicators and there is a chance of a double- dip, but overall he feels that the base has been laid for long- term growth,” said Jonathan Barratt, a managing director of Commodity Broking Services Pty in Sydney, who predicts crude in New York will average $100 a barrel this year. “You’ll find over the next three to six months there’ll be a marked improvement in terms of Libyan production.”

Oil slips, Bernanke's speech eyed
LONDON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Oil prices inched down on Friday as investors looked ahead to a speech by the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman on the health of the world's largest economy and top oil consumer.
"The key question is whether Bernanke will announce a further round of quantitative easing of US monetary policy, as he did last year," Commerzbank analysts said.

Thai govt says to temporarily remove levy on some fuel
BANGKOK, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Thailand's Energy Ministry will temporarily remove a levy on certain fuel to bring down retail prices, the energy minister said on Friday.
The removal will cut the retail price of 91-octane by 7.17 baht per litre, 95-octane petrol by 8.02 baht and diesel by 3 baht from Saturday, Pichai Naripthaphan told reporters after a meeting of the National Energy Policy Council (NEPC).

India's July refinery output rises 3.9 pct y/y-govt
NEW DELHI, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Indian refiners processed 3.9 percent more crude in July from a year ago, the eighth consecutive monthly rise, with the pace of growth slowing slightly from June due to maintenance work at some refineries.
Domestic refiners processed 3.423 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in July, while combined crude throughput of private refineries was down four percent, government data showed on Friday.

Iraq Q4 oil product imports near 1 mln tonnes
NEW YORK/LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Iraq, a major buyer of oil products, is set to import around 950,000 tonnes of gasoline and gas oil in the fourth quarter, the country's deputy oil minister told Reuters on Thursday.
Speaking by telephone from Iraq, Dr. Ahmed al-Shamma said rapidly growing demand meant the country would need to import 681,000 tonnes of gasoline and 270,000 tonnes of gas oil in the last three months of 2011.

Glencore sees opportunities in volatility as H1 rises
LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Commodities trader Glencore International Plc  warned of volatility ahead in its key markets but saw opportunities in the turbulence as demand remains strong, with resilient prices helping to boost its first-half profit by 50 percent.
A robust outlook and a more modest than expected quarter-on-quarter drop in its closely watched marketing business -- which trades commodities from grains to oil -- comforted investors, who sent the stock up as much as 6 percent.

Glencore CEO eyes iron ore opportunities
LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Commodities trader Glencore  aims to grow its presence in iron ore through additional marketing deals and could consider acquisitions, its Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg told reporters on Thursday.
Glencore's iron ore marketing business has soared since it was launched in 2008 and it has carved out a growing share of the market for the steelmaking ingredient.

Indonesian Timah's refined H1 tin output down 5 pct
JAKARTA, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Refined tin production at Indonesia's Timah , the world's largest integrated tin miner, fell 5 percent in the first half of this year compared with a year ago, the state-owned company said on Thursday.
First-half refined tin production was 18,455 tonnes versus 19,501 tonnes last year, the company said in a statement.

Libya's uranium, chemical stocks secure - U.S.
WASHINGTON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said on Thursday that it believes Libya's stockpiles of low-enriched uranium and mustard gas, built up by deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi, are secure.
Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States was monitoring sites where the stockpiles are held through its "national technical means" -- a euphemism for spy satellites and other intelligence assets -- and was confident of their security.

Japan July rolled copper output down 4.1 pct yr/yr
TOKYO, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Japan's output of rolled copper product dropped 4.1 percent in July from a year earlier, its second consecutive year-on-year fall, due to sluggish demand from auto and chip makers, an industry association said on Friday.  
The preliminary data from the Japan Copper and Brass Association showed that rolled copper output totaled 71,978 tonnes in July on a seasonally adjusted basis. That marked an increase of 2.8 percent from June.

METALS-LME copper slips, Bernanke's speech eyed
SHANGHAI, Aug 26 (Reuters) - LME copper fell on Friday, after surging to its highest in almost three weeks in the previous session, as investors remained cautious ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman later in the day.
The base metals market is expected to be volatile during the day with many investors betting against the Fed unveiling new quantitative easing (QE) measures, while some looked forward to it offering positive signals about the faltering U.S. economy.

PRECIOUS-Gold edges lower before Bernanke speech
SINGAPORE, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Spot gold lost 0.4 percent on Friday, on course for its first weekly drop after seven straight weeks of gains, as investors awaited a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke later in the day.
All eyes are on Bernanke's speech in Jackson Hole scheduled for 1400 GMT, with markets eager to hear what the Fed's plan is to help a struggling U.S. economy, although the growing consensus is that the Fed's options to stimulate the economy are limited.

Gold Reverses Gain to Decline by 0.8%, Falling for the First Day in Three (Source: Bloomberg)
Gold for immediate delivery fell as much as 0.8 percent to $1,814.20 an ounce, and last traded at $1,816.55 by 8:11 a.m. Singapore time.

Gold Advances on Demand for Haven as Bernanke Offers No Fed Stimulus Plan (Source: Bloomberg)
Gold climbed for a third day after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke refrained from offering more stimulus to shore up the economy, boosting the appeal of haven investments. Immediate-delivery gold advanced as much as 0.6 percent to $1,839.15 an ounce before trading at $1,834.74 at 6:20 a.m. Singapore time. The metal, which touched a record $1,913.50 on Aug. 23, slumped as much as 11 percent from its all-time high, as equities rebounded on optimism the Fed would act to bolster the economy at an annual forum last week. December delivery bullion in New York rose as much as 2.5 percent to $1,841.50. “The underlying reason for gold’s surge -- diminishing faith in government balance sheets -- remains intact,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts led by chief market strategist Jan Loeys, wrote in a report dated Aug. 26.

Baltic index falls, rally loses steam
LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks rates to ship dry commodities, fell on Thursday for the first time in over two weeks on Thursday as slower cargo bookings and rising fleet growth dented earnings.
The overall index fell 1.25 percent or 20 points to 1,582 points, after rising for 11 straight sessions previously and hitting a near-seven-month high this week. The index, which gauges the cost of shipping commodities including iron ore, coal and grain, had risen over 25 percent since first moving higher on Aug. 10.

20110829 1001 Soy Oil & Palm Oil Related News.

Soybeans (Source: CME)
US soy futures jump sharply on growing concerns about the crop, which continues to get less rain than it needs. Theme is "higher and drier," says US Commodities President Don Roose, who says lack of rain across a wide swath of the Midwest is stressing the crop and driving prices higher. Technical buying accelerated soybeans' climb, and strength in equities also supported prices. Sep soybeans climb 2.1% to $14.16 3/4 a bushel.

Soybean Meal/Oil (Source: CME)
Sep soyoil ends up 1.8% to 56.60c/lb, while Sep soymeal ends up 2.2% to $376 per short ton.

Palm oil futures hit 2-wk lows, key speech eyed
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Malaysian palm oil futures hit over two-week lows, tracking a weaker overseas soy complex and crude oil amid grim global economic news as traders awaited a key speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
"Investors tend to be cautious ahead of Ben Bernanke's speech, but the debt crisis in the U.S. will not end overnight," said a trader in Kuala Lumpur.

Minimal August rains to stress U.S. soybeans
CHICAGO, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Minimal rainfall for the rest of August in the U.S. Midwest will add stress to pod-setting soybeans and filling corn, an agricultural meteorologist said Thursday.
"Overall there won't be much rain for the next 10 days but no exceptional heat," said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring.

Global slowdown may not hurt Malaysian commodity exports
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia Aug 25 (Reuters) - Malaysian commodities such as palm oil, tin and rubber play such a central role in the global economy that their prices are likely to hold up even in a global slowdown, the Malaysian commodities minister said on Thursday.
Chinese imports of palm oil are set to rise next month as buyers stock up, Bernard Dompok said.