Friday, February 10, 2012

20120210 1818 FCPO EOD Daily Chart Study.

FCPO closed : 3131, changed : -17 points, volume : lower.
Bollinger band reading : pullback correction downside biased.
MACD Histrogram : recovering, seller reducing position.
Support : 3100, 3070, 3050, 3020 level.
Resistance : 3150, 3200, 3250, 3270 level.
Comment :
FCPO closed recorded small loss with reducing volume participation. Soy oil price currently trading lower after overnight closed recorded small loss while crude oil price fall lower after yesterday tested above 100 level.
Soy oil and crude palm oil price fell lower after news on normal USDA supply and demand estimates with no immediate weather problems for South American crops plus slower export data from MPOB and cargo surveyor. MPOB also announced a lower output and inventories level for the month of Jan 2012.
Technical reading remained unchanged suggesting a pullback correction downside biased market development with middle Bollinger band support turned resistance.
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.

20120210 1746 FKLI EOD Daily Chart Study.

FKLI closed : 1553, changed : -5.5 points, volume : lower.
Bollinger band reading : pullback correction upside biased.
MACD Histrogram : rising, buyer in control.
Support : 1550, 1540, 1530, 1515 level.
Resistance : 1565, 1570, 1580, 1590 level.
Comment :
FKLI closed little lower with shrinking volume transacted doing 8.5 points discount compare to cash market that also closed recorded small gain. Overnight U.S. markets closed recorded small gain again and today Asia markets ended lower while European markets currently registering small loss.
Global markets slipped lower after European leader held back on Greece rescue package resulted investors to reduce exposure ahead of the weekend.
Chart study revised to suggesting a pullback correction upside biased market development.
When to buy : buy at support or weakness with quick cut loss and profit target.
When to sell : sell at resistance or strength with quick cut loss and profit target.

20120210 1706 Regional Markets EOD Daily Chart Study.

  DJIA chart reading :  upside biased.
 Hang Seng chart reading : pullback correction upside biased.
KLCI chart reading : pullback correction upside biased.

20120210 1617 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

FOREX-Euro near 2-mth highs after Greece; outlook uncertain
TOKYO, Feb 10 (Reuters) - The euro clung to recent gains on Friday, trading near two-month highs against the dollar and the yen after Greece agreed to a deal on reforms needed to avoid a chaotic default and destabilisation of the euro zone.
But investors wondered whether the Greeks will actually meet the harsh demands of the package and if the single currency's recent strength could prove fleeting, particularly after it stalled at an important chart resistance level on Thursday.

Wheat near 2-week low; corn, soy fall on crop data
SINGAPORE, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat slid almost 1 percent, falling for a fourth straight session and touching its lowest in almost two weeks, as record-large global supplies forecast by the U.S. government pressured the market.
"Going forward, we see more downside for corn as U.S plantings will be higher which will pressure prices in the coming weeks," said Lynette Tan, an analyst with Phillip Futures in Singapore.

Colombia coffee exports, output fall in Jan -growers
BOGOTA, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Colombia's coffee production in January fell 41 percent from a year earlier to 535,000 60-kg bags due to the continued effects of heavy rains on the crop, the country's coffee federation said on Thursday.
The world's top producer of high-quality Arabica beans posted a third consecutive year of lower-than-expected coffee production in 2011 as bad weather, fungus and a tree renovation program keep output below historic averages of 11 million bags.

Record world wheat stocks to offset S.America drought
WASHINGTON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - World wheat stocks will swell to a record this year and corn supplies will be larger than expected despite a crop-withering drought in South America, the U.S. government forecast on Thursday.
India will post a record rice crop of 102 million tonnes, up 2 million tonnes from a January estimate, due to beneficial monsoons and growing weather, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast, as the global grain outlook improves slightly after years of tight stocks and rising prices.

Brazil soy crop view wilts but corn rises - gov't
SAO PAULO, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Brazil's government pared back its forecast for soy production on Thursday as drought over the southern grain belt took its toll on yields, but it raised the estimate for corn, expecting winter planting to jump in the coming weeks.
The fifth forecast of the 2011/2012 grain crop by the Agriculture Ministry's supply agency Conab comes after drought over southern Brazil and Argentina raised fears of a sharp drop in output. Combined, the two nations produce more soybeans - an important global source of protein and vegetable oils- than the United States, the largest single producer.

Argentine corn crop seen smaller due to drought
BUENOS AIRES, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Weeks of drought in Argentina caused irreversible damage to corn plants in the world's No. 2 exporter, prompting the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange to cut its 2011/12 crop estimate on Thursday.
The exchange dropped its forecast to 21.3 million tonnes from an earlier 22 million tonnes, saying recent rains that have benefited many parts of the grains belt came too late to help fields hardest hit by December and early January dryness exacerbated by an unforgiving Southern Hemisphere summer sun.

Ukraine asks traders to export corn, not wheat
KIEV, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Ukraine's Farm Ministry has asked grain traders to focus their activity on exports of maize and barley but not on wheat, Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted a ministry official as saying on Thursday.
"We encourage traders ... do not include it (wheat) in the list of priorities. As for barley and maize, you are welcome to," said Serhiy Kvasha, the head of the ministry's market department.

China Jan crude oil imports 3rd highest on record
BEIJING, Feb 10 (Reuters) - China's crude oil imports in January marked the third highest level on record, up 7.4 percent from a year earlier to 5.51 million barrels per day (bpd), customs data showed on Friday, as refineries ramped up to ensure supply ahead of a holiday season.
The world's second-largest oil consumer imported 23.41 million tonnes of crude oil last month, data published by the General Administration of Customs showed.

Brent drops toward $118, China data stokes demand fears
SINGAPORE, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Brent crude slipped from a six-month high towards $118 a barrel as data from China showed a soaring trade surplus due to crumbling imports for January, stoking fears of a slowdown in demand from the world's second largest oil consumer.
"Demand has been affected by seasonal factors. We expect GDP growth to accelerate in China as the government implements more stimulatory measures, and this will be positive for oil demand," said Gordon Kwan, head of energy research at Mirae Asset Management in Hong Kong.

Iran's steel imports collapse under sanctions-traders
LONDON/MOSCOW, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Steel exports to Iran, one of the world's top importers of billet used in construction, are grinding to a halt as crippling U.S.-led sanctions have left local buyers without access to major currencies, traders said.
"Iran is the only market in the world that can move billet prices and now trading has basically come to a halt," a steel trader based in Britain said.

China Jan copper imports fall 18.7 pct from Dec record
HONG KONG, Feb 10 (Reuters) - China's copper imports fell 18.7 percent in January compared to December's record high, government data showed on Friday, as public holidays slowed trade, but analysts said the amount was more than expected because of bigger orders the previous month.
China's markets were closed for 3 days to mark the beginning of the year, and then again for the week-long Lunar New Year holidays.

China January iron ore imports down 7 pct from Dec-customs
SHANGHAI/BEIJING, Feb 10 (Reuters) - China imported 59.32 million tonnes of iron ore in January, down 7 percent from 64.09 million tonnes for the previous month, official data from China's customs authority showed on Friday.
The world's largest iron ore consumer slowed down on shipments during the one-week Lunar New Year holiday at the end of January, after the country purchased a record of around 686 million tonnes of the steelmaking raw material in 2011.

Copper sags as caution prevails, China imports fall
SINGAPORE, Feb 10 (Reuters) - London copper futures edged lower, after rising to five-month highs in the previous session, as euro zone finance ministers pushed for more measures from Greece before it provides its second EU bailout in two years.
"There's still a bit of uncertainty surrounding that Greek deal. The general tone is supportive, but there are still some hurdles to overcome," said Stefan Graber, analyst at Credit Suisse.

Gold in tight range after Greece deal, CME cut
SINGAPORE, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Gold hovered unchanged at around $1,730 an ounce in cautious trade as euro zone finance ministers held off on approving a bailout package for Greece even after it said it had clinched a deal on economic reforms.
"Many are still standing on the side waiting for something new to happen in the market," said Peter Fung, head of dealing at Wing Fung Precious Metals in Hong Kong.  

METALS-Copper sags as caution prevails, China imports fall
SINGAPORE, Feb 10 (Reuters) - London copper futures edged lower on Friday, after rising to five-month highs in the previous session, as euro zone finance ministers pushed for more measures from Greece before it provides its second EU bailout in two years.
Investors lagely shrugged off data showing copper imports by top consumer China fell 18.7 percent in January, largely within market expectations, with many factories shut during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.

PRECIOUS-Gold in tight range after Greece deal, CME cut
SINGAPORE, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Gold hovered unchanged at around $1,730 an ounce on Friday in cautious trade as euro zone finance ministers held off on approving a bailout package for Greece even after it said it had clinched a deal on economic reforms.
Even a cut in the metal's trading margins by the biggest operator of U.S. futures exchanges, the CME Group, failed to spark the enthusiasm of sidelined investors, and kept spot gold  prices little changed at $1,732.34 an ounce by 0315 GMT, after two straight days of losses.

20120210 1116 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

GLOBAL MARKETS-Investors cautious despite Greece deal
TOKYO, Feb 10 (Reuters) - The euro and shares eased on Friday as investors kept a cautious view over Greece's debt restructuring prospect, after Athens struck a deal on fiscal reforms, paving the way for securing a crucial financial aid.
"There is a bit of a sense of achievement over the Greece issue and given that the market has been risk-positive, it may be time for some correction to set in," said Hiroshi Maeba, managing director of foreign exchange trading at Nomura Securities in Tokyo.

COMMODITIES-Oil, copper jump as Greece debt deal boosts risk
NEW YORK, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Crude oil and copper extended their rallies to hit multi-month highs on Thursday after a debt restructuring deal clinched by Greece gave investors better hope of managing the euro zone crisis.
"Keeping oil prices higher are the evolving geopolitical situation in and around the Middle East ... in particular Iran. The bitter cold winter weather that has hit major portions of Europe driving up demand for heating fuels as well as more signs that a Greek deal may be close to finally getting done," said Dominick Chirichella, senior partner at the Energy Management Institute in New York.

Brent rises for 8th day after Greek bailout deal
NEW YORK, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Brent crude oil rose on Thursday for the eighth straight day, ending at a six-month high, after Greek leaders agreed to austerity measures to secure a second bailout and avoid an unruly default.
"Keeping oil prices higher are the evolving geopolitical situation in and around the Middle East ... in particular Iran, the bitter cold winter weather that has hit major portions of Europe driving up demand for heating fuels, as well as more signs that a Greek deal may be close to finally getting done," said Dominick Chirichella, senior partner at the Energy Management Institute in New York.

US natgas futures end higher despite light stock draw
NEW YORK, Feb 9 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures shrugged off a smaller-than-expected draw down in inventory to end higher on Thursday amid reports that a major natural gas producer had cut some output due to low gas prices.
"Cutting back on output will have an impact, but it could take six to nine months before we stop growing production. It looks like a challenged market right through 2012," said Roger Read, managing director at Morgan Keegan in Houston.

Euro Coal-Prices slip again, ice blocks Danube river
LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Freezing weather continued to drive up gas and power prices but coal values fell again because utilities have more coal than they need and stockpiles are close to full, utilities and traders said.
"What's interesting is there are quite a few offers of March delivery cargoes and you have to wonder why - were these sold previously and somebody's backed out or was everybody assuming China would come back in early February and buy?" one major utility source said.

20120210 0940 Local & Global Economic Related News.

Malaysia: Industrial output growth quickens as exports gain
Malaysia’s industrial production growth accelerated in December as manufacturing and electricity output increased and exports climbed. Production at factories, utilities and mines gained 3% y-o-y after rising a revised 2.4% in November, the statistics department said yesterday. Exports rose 6.1% y-o-y from a year earlier, according to the trade ministry. Bank Negara Malaysia kept interest rates unchanged last month, saying the economy showed signs of “continued expansion” and will keep growing, aided by public spending. (Bloomberg)

The international reserves of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) amounted to RM424.8bn (US$134.1bn) as at 31 Jan 2012, up from RM423.5bn (US$133.7bn) as at 13 Jan 2012. The reserves position is sufficient to finance 9.6 months of retained imports and is 4.1 times the short-term external debt. (BNM)

Exports increased by 6.1% yoy in Dec 2011 (8% in Nov) while imports rose 10.4% yoy (8.4% in Nov), resulting in a trade surplus of RM8.3bn (RM9.5bn in Nov). Economists had projected the exports would increase by 5.3%. For the full year of 2011, exports and imports rose by 8.7% and 8.6% respectively (15.6% and 21.7% respectively in 2010). (Department of Statistics, Bloomberg)

The manufacturing sales increased modestly by 1.1% yoy to RM48.8bn in Dec 2011 (+6% to RM47.4bn in Nov). On a mom basis, it soared 3% (-7.8% in Nov). For the full year of 2011, it grew by 10% to RM588.9bn (+14.1% to RM535.5bn in 2010). Total employees engaged in the manufacturing sector increased 0.3% yoy to 1m persons (+1.2% to 1.004m persons in Nov). Salaries and wages paid in Dec 2011 increased 15.5% yoy to RM2,6bn (+5.9% to RM2.3bn in Nov). Average salaries and wages paid per employee rose 15.2% yoy to RM2,615 (+4.7% to RM2,335 in Nov). Productivity was up by 0.8% yoy (+4.7% in Nov). (Department of Statistics)

Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said export growth is expected to slow further to 5-6% this year (8.7% in 2011) for merchandise exports and 4.9% for services export due to economic problems in Europe. In comparison, world trade volumes are expected to fall to 3.8% this year from 6.9% in 2011. He noted however that with 71.3% of exports heading to Asia compared with 10.4% to Europe, the country was “cushioned” from the adverse conditions in the Eurozone. (Malaysian Insider, Financial Daily)

Indonesia: Unexpectedly cuts interest rate to support growth
Indonesia’s central bank unexpectedly cut its benchmark interest rate for the first time in three months, taking advantage of easing inflation to support growth in a deteriorating global economy. Governor Darmin Nasution and his board lowered the reference rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 5.75% from 6%, Bank Indonesia said in a statement in Jakarta yesterday. Indonesia joins the Philippines and Thailand in cutting borrowing costs in the past month, while the Bank of Korea held off raising rates yesterday as policy makers move to counter weakening global demand. (Bloomberg)

China: January exports probably fell, minister says before data
Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said exports probably fell in January after foreign trade slowed in the second half of last year, as he pledged to maintain “stability” in the yuan’s exchange rate. Overseas sales last month “cannot make us optimistic” and are “expected to have negative year-on-year growth due to Chinese New Year and other factors,” Chen said yesterday. “Chinese trading companies, particularly small and micro businesses, have come under growing pressure.” Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell as much as 0.4% following the comments. (Bloomberg)

China’s producer price index rose 0,7% yoy in Jan (1.7% in Dec). Economists had forecast a 0.8% rise. (Bloomberg)

China: Holiday inflation pick-up may limit easing room
China’s inflation unexpectedly accelerated in January on the boost to spending from a weeklong holiday, limiting room for monetary easing as Europe’s debt crisis damps exports and the property market cools. Consumer prices rose 4.5% from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. Inflation quickening for the first time in six months adds pressure on officials to refrain from any immediate additional cut in banks’ reserve requirements. (Bloomberg)

China's annual inflation rate hit 4.5% in Jan (4.1% in Dec), the highest level in three months, official data showed, as the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday boosted consumer prices. Analysts had expected inflation to rise 4.1%. Before Jan, inflation had eased for five straight months after hitting a more than three-year high of 6.5% in Jul. (AFP)

The Bank of Korea held the benchmark seven-day repo rate at 3.25% in Feb, the eighth consecutive month. The decision is in accordance with general expectations. (AFP)

India: Trade deficit widens as import growth outpaces exports
India’s trade deficit widened to a three-month high in January as import growth outpaced the climb in exports, the top bureaucrat in the commerce ministry said. Merchandise exports rose 10.1% to USD25.4bn last month from a year earlier, Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar told reporters yesterday. Imports gained 20.3% to USD40.1bn, leaving a trade deficit of USD14.7bn, he said.

Thailand’s consumer confidence index improved to 64 in Jan (63.1 in Dec). (Bloomberg)

Japan’s core machinery orders, which help gauge capital spending, fell 7.1% mom in Dec, deeper than a median market forecast for a 5.0% decline. (Reuters)

Japan's consumer confidence rose to 40.0 in Jan (38.9 in Dec), according to the Cabinet Office. (Bloomberg)

EU: Decision on Greek bailout deferred to pressure Athens
European finance chiefs are set to defer ratifying a EUR130bn (USD173bn) rescue for Greece, pressing the government in Athens to put a newly struck austerity plan into action. “It’s up to the Greek government by concrete actions - through legislation, other actions - to convince its European partners that the second program can be made to work,” European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said yesterday as he arrived for an emergency meeting of euro-area finance ministers in Brussels. Bloomberg)

Greek leaders failed on Thursday to agree on reforms and austerity measures, the price of a bailout to avoid a messy default, forcing Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos to go to the country's financial backers with an incomplete deal. Euro zone officials say the full package must be agreed with Greece and approved by the EU, ECB and IMF before 15 Feb so legal paperwork can be completed in time to avoid a chaotic default that could threaten global economic recovery. (Reuters)

Greece has two weeks to identify fiscal savings worth €300m (US$398m) under a new bailout deal with the EU and IMF, a senior Greek government official said. (Reuters)

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi openly encouraged European banks to take advantage of the ECB's next offer of cheap three-year loans later this month, saying use of the facility should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness. "The facilities are there to be used. There is no stigma whatsoever on these facilities," Draghi said, while estimating that demand at the Feb offer of three-year loans "should be substantial." (WSJ)

US: Consumer comfort index climbs to highest level in a year
Consumer confidence in the US climbed last week to a one-year high, spurred by improving employment opportunities and a rally in the stock market. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to minus 41.7 in the period to 5 Feb from minus 44.8 the previous week. Confidence among political independents, considered a key group in presidential elections, increased to a four-year high. Americans’ views of the economy were the least pessimistic in eight months after employers beefed up payrolls in January and joblessness fell to the lowest level since February 2009.(Bloomberg)

The recent spate of good US economic news has led White House officials to lower their projections for the unemployment rate this year, with a top adviser saying the 8.9% estimate that will appear in the White House's budget proposal on 13 Feb is already "stale and out of date." (WSJ)

US applications for unemployment benefits fell 15,000 in the week ended 4 Feb to 358,000 (373,000 in the prior week), Labor Department figures showed. Economists had expected 370,000 claims. A four-week average of new filings hit its lowest level since Apr 2008 of 366,250 (377,300 in the prior week). (Bloomberg)

Inventories at US wholesalers grew 1.0% in Dec (a revised no change in Nov), according to the Commerce Department. Economists expected a 0.4% gain. (Reuters)

20120210 0939 Malaysia Corporate Related News.

Berjaya Land records RM8.05m loss from sale of BToto shares
Berjaya Land recorded a net loss of about RM8.05m at group level after it disposed of 18.3m Berjaya Sports Toto shares for RM79.6m. B-Land said the shares were disposed of on Thursday at an average selling price of RM4.35 and the shares represented about 1.37% of BToto. (Financial Daily)

Takeover offer for Mahajaya at 85 sen each
Property developer Mahajaya has received a notice of conditional takeover from a group of joint-offerors, made up of its major shareholders, to acquire the remaining 75.56m shares representing a 27.57% stake they do not own in the company at 85 sen each. The offer value the whole Mahajaya at RM232.9m. The joint-offerors are Waiban Corp SB, Rancangan Impian SB and Mahajaya managing director Tan Ming Wai and deputy managing director Tan Ming Ban. (Financial Daily)

Hua Yang to raise RM100m for acquisitions
Property developer Hua Yang plans to raise RM100m capital to fund its land acquisitions this year. CEO Ho Wen Yan said the amount is three times the size of capital expenditure last year for buying land. The developer is eyeing up to 121ha of land in Penang and Sabah for township development. However, the fund raising exercise is still being discussed and has not been finalized yet, Ho said. (Financial Daily)

Kumpulan Jetson acquires Asian Corp for RM11m
Property developer and automotive parts manufacturer, Kumpulan Jetson Bhd, has acquired a 100% stake in China-based Asian Corp Ltd (ACL) for RM11m. The purchase price was a 22.5% discount to ACL's net assets of RM14.2m, and its main asset is a 57,737 square metre industrial land in Yangzhou City, China. (StarBiz)

Kumpulan Jetson Bhd maker, expects a strong take-up rate for its RM174m integrated industrial property project in Yangzhou City, China. The project, dubbed Jetson Integrated Industrial Park (JIIP), comprises 10 units of detached factories, four blocks of four-storey exchange centre, a six-storey hostel and a six-storey production centre. So far, three units of the detached factories have been sold to investors. These units were leased back to Jetson for its production and warehousing of anti-vibration systems to serve the domestic automotive market. The project, which has a gross development cost of RM125m, is expected to be completed by the end of 1Q14. "We are confident that all the units will be sold. I don't think it will be difficult. So far, we are in talks with several serious investors on other units," said group managing director Datuk Teh Kian An after its EGM yesterday.The company will start its production of the anti-vibration systems in China in 2Q12.
The part re-location will free up production capacity in Malaysia to cater for other growth markets like India and Iran. Teh said that the company now exports between 25-30% of its manufactured products overseas, with China being a major market. (BT)

Kamarul's resignation will have no impact on Petra Energy, says company
The resignation of Petra Energy Bhd director Kamarul Baharin Albakri will not have any impact on the company's effort to move forward. Kamarul, appointed executive director of Petra Energy on 18 Feb, 2010, submitted his resignation letter at the company's board of directors meeting yesterday, the company said in a statement. The company recently announced a new senior management line-up as part of its transformation plan to strengthen the group's business activities and to capitalise on growing opportunities available in the vibrant oil and gas industry. (Bernama)

DRB-Hicom Bhd has not yet decided on the new management line-up to steer Proton Holdings Bhd.DRB-HICOM group MD Datuk Seri Mohd Khamil Jamil said he was surprised with all the names suggested through the media. "I do meet them (Proton officials) from time to time on business arrangements, but I have not made any decision on the new Proton line-up. I must first go through the merger and acquisition process. "We will hold an EGM on the first or second week of March to finalise the deal. He was commenting on news reports that Proton's former CEO Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff was poised to make a comeback as the national carmaker's new chairman, replacing Datuk Seri Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh. DRB-HICOM's group COO Datuk Lukman Ibrahim and Hicom Automotive Manufacturers CEO Abdul Rashid Musa are also names tipped to be potential candidates as Proton CEO.
On sports-car outfit Lotus plc, which is bleeding money, Mohd Khamil said the group will have a look at Lotus' good points first before deciding on what to do with it as it is an important element of Proton."I cannot just dispose of it because Lotus has 2,000 employees and Proton, 15,000 employees. The possibility to sell is there but the probability depends ... maybe sell 10-20% or 100%." (BT)

Volkswagen AG (VW) is considering expanding production in Malaysia and has sent senior executives, including management board members, to review Proton Holdings's operations for a potential partnership, a person familiar with the matter said. The high-ranking executives are considering whether the plants are equipped to produce VW models as it considers creating a production hub in Malaysia to target Southeast Asian markets, the person said. (Bloomberg, BT)

Khazanah Nasional Bhd and PNB will divest 10 non-core businesses to qualified Bumiputera companies via open tender, PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak said. He said these businesses would either be sold or outsourced in efforts to increase Bumiputera equity. "This will be done through a process of open tender where potential Bumiputera companies will be invited (to take part) and the most qualified company will be chosen to own these companies. (NST)

Palm oil is Malaysia's biggest commodity export, registering RM80bn last year. In second spot was rubber with RM20bn, said Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainudin. (Bernama)

MY Rapid Transit (MRT) Corporation CEO Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid clarified that he had not said that MRT Corp preferred local companies to participate in the construction of the country's largest public transport infrastructure project. In a clarification to BT report yesterday, Azhar said: "I strongly deny having said what has been attributed to me in the story. While I have said before that cost and the fact that a company is Malaysian are important factors, they are merely two of many factors which are taken into account during tender evaluation. "In fact, what I have often maintained is that cost is not the principal consideration in the tender evaluation process. "Further, to further suggest that all foreign bidders have been excluded (solely because they are not Malaysian) from being considered when the tender evaluation process is still being carried out is grossly irresponsible. (BT)

Bursa Malaysia Securities Bhd cautioned investors yesterday in the trading of Naim Indah Corp Bhd (Nicorp) shares. The market requlator rarely cautions investors in trading of stocks, preferring instead to issue Unusual Market Activity (UMA) queries. However, a caution by Bursa should be taken seriously, as traditionally if the shares continue to trade erratically, the exchange may impose trading restrictions by designating the stock.The last time the regulator had designated a stock was with Harvest Court Industries Bhd.(BT)

Dijaya Corp Bhd aims to launch RM1.1bn worth of projects this year after accumulating land for development in the past 18 months. Last year, the master property developer of Tropicana Golf & Country Resort and Tropicana Indah Resort Homes in Petaling Jaya only launched RM700m worth of properties. "For 2012, we are targeting sales between RM650m-RM700m", says MD Datuk Tong Kien Onn to pressmen after the EGM yesterday. Last year, Dijaya sold about RM420m of properties. "Dijaya will be launching many new projects this year and next year on lands that we have purchased over the last one-and-a-half years. "The total gross development value (GDV) of these lands works out to around RM28bn," said Tong, adding that the group's total undeveloped landbank area is 324ha. (BT)

Bank Islam Malaysia (BIMB) is tying up with the Shariah arm of the National Cooperative Organisation of Malaysia (Angkasa) to help the latter offer total financial solutions to its members. A MoU is expected to be inked today – the offered solutions will include the whole range of BIMB banking products of cash management and loans. (Malaysian Reserve)

20120210 0920 Global Market Related News.

Asian Stocks Decline as European Leaders Hold Back Greek Debt Rescue Aid (Source: Bloomberg)
Asian stocks fell as European finance ministers held back a rescue package for Greece ahead of a parliamentary vote on a newly-agreed austerity plan. Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), a Japanese consumer electronics maker that gets about 20 percent of sales from Europe, slid 1.6 percent. AOC Holdings Inc., an oil and gas explorer, declined 8.8 percent in Tokyo after cutting its full-year net income forecast by 55 percent. Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third- biggest mining company, dropped 2.2 percent in Sydney after posting a second-half loss. “Greece reached some sort of agreement, but it’s still up for negotiation whether the rest of the European authorities will accept that agreement,” said Stephen Halmarick, Sydney- based head of investment markets research at Colonial First State Global Asset Management, which oversees about $150 billion.

Japanese Stocks Swing Between Gains, Losses After Greek Bailout Held Back (Source: Bloomberg)
Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese stocks swung between gains and losses as European finance ministers held back a bailout for Greece in a rebuff that left lawmakers in Athens under pressure to endorse a newly minted austerity plan. Canon Inc. (7751), a Japanese camera maker that gets 31 percent of its revenue in Europe, rose 0.6 percent. Komatsu Ltd. (6301), a construction machinery maker that generates 23 percent of its sales in China, fell 0.7 percent before a report today expected to show mainland exports and imports fell in January. Nippon Yusen K.K. (9101) led shippers higher after JP Morgan Securities raised its investment rating. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 0.1 percent to 8,994.06 as of 9:22 a.m. in Tokyo, set for a 1.8 percent advance this week. The broader Topix Index gained 0.1 percent to 783.37, headed for a 3 percent gain on the week.

Stocks in U.S. Advance as Greece Reaches Agreement on Austerity Measures (Source: Bloomberg)
U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index higher for a third day, as Greek political leaders struck a deal on a package of austerity measures needed to secure international rescue funds. Technology (S5INFT) shares had the biggest gain among 10 industries in the S&P 500, adding 1 percent. Akamai Technologies Inc. (AKAM), the operator of a server network that lets businesses speed data delivery, and Visa Inc. (V), the world’s biggest payments network, advanced at least 3.7 percent as earnings topped analysts’ projections. United Technologies Corp. (UTX) rallied 2.5 percent as it is said to be studying the sale of a pumps business. The S&P 500 increased 0.2 percent to 1,351.95 as of 4 p.m. New York time. The benchmark gauge declined as much as 0.4 percent earlier today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 6.51 points, or 0.1 percent, to 12,890.46. The Russell 2000 Index of small companies lost 0.4 percent to 824.99.

European Stocks Advance as Greek Leaders Agree on Austerity; Daimler Gains (Source: Bloomberg)
European stocks rose for the first time in four days as Greek political leaders reached a consensus on austerity measures and the European Central Bank held its benchmark interest rate at a record low. Daimler AG (DAI), the maker of Mercedes-Benz cars, jumped to the highest in six months after reporting a 39 percent increase in quarterly profit. Hugo Boss AG (BOS) climbed as fourth-quarter operating income beat estimates. Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) fell 3.5 percent after posting an unexpected loss. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced 0.2 percent to 263.64 at the close in London. The benchmark measure has rallied 23 percent from last year’s low and 7.8 percent this year on mounting optimism that euro-area policy makers will contain the region’s debt crisis.

U.K. Stocks Climb on Greek Austerity Deal, BOE Decision; BG Group Advances (Source: Bloomberg)
U.K. stocks rose, snapping three days of declines, as Greek political leaders struck a deal on austerity measures and the Bank of England raised its asset- purchase target. BG Group Plc (BG/) climbed 3.2 percent after saying it plans to sell $5 billion of assets in the next two years. GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) increased 1.2 percent. Rio Tinto Group fell 1.5 percent after reporting a loss in the second half. The FTSE 100 Index advanced 19.54, or 0.3 percent, to 5,895.47 at the close in London. The gauge has rallied 19 percent from last year’s lowest level on Oct. 4. The FTSE All- Share Index and Ireland’s ISEQ Index added 0.4 percent each.

China’s Stocks Rise to 2-Month High as Consumer, Property Stocks Advance (Source: Bloomberg)
China’s stocks advanced, driving the benchmark index to a two-month high, as a cash crunch eased and investors bought shares of companies whose earnings benefit from rising prices. Liquor maker Kweichow Moutai Co. (600519) led an advance for consumer-staples producers after January inflation unexpectedly rebounded to 4.5 percent during the Chinese new year holiday on accelerating food prices. Ledman Optoelectronic Co. jumped 3.4 percent after benchmark money-market rates fell, signaling improving liquidity. China Vanke Co. paced a two-day rally for property developers. Jiangxi Copper Co. slid 2 percent as Greek leaders fell short of a full agreement on a rescue plan. “The Spring Festival effect boosted January inflation and it’s a one-off rebound,” said Dai Ming, a fund manager at Shanghai Kingsun Investment Management & Consulting Co. “Prices will come down in the following months. But the central bank will be reluctant to relax monetary policies since the inflation rate is still perceived as high.”

Stocks, Euro, Commodities Gain as Treasuries Fall on Greece Austerity Deal (Source: Bloomberg)
Stocks and the euro rose, Treasuries fell and commodities extended their longest rally of the year as Greek politicians agreed on austerity plans needed to qualify for international aid and U.S. jobless claims decreased. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index increased 0.2 percent to close at a seven-month high of 1,351.95 at 4 p.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 6.51 points to 12,890.46, the highest since May 2008. The euro strengthened 0.2 percent to $1.3287, near a two-month high. Thirty-year Treasury yields climbed to a three-month high following an auction. The S&P GSCI Index of 24 commodities advanced for a fifth straight day as industrial metals led gains and oil approached $100 a barrel.
Political leaders in Athens announced an agreement that may clear the way for a deal to cut the nation’s debt and win its second rescue in two years. European finance chiefs were set to defer ratifying a 130 billion-euro ($173 billion) rescue for Greece, pressing the government in Athens to put the newly struck austerity plan into action.

Euro hits 2-month high as market bets on Greece deal
TOKYO, Feb 9 (Reuters) - The euro hit a fresh two-month high on views that Greece was inching closer to a bailout deal even though Greek parties stopped short of signing off on austerity measures.
"I do think they will reach a deal by the euro zone finance ministers' meeting," said Katsunori Kitakura, chief dealer at Chuo Mitsui Banking and Trust.

American Consumers’ Confidence Gains With Improvement in Job Data: Economy (Source: Bloomberg)
Fewer Americans than forecast filed claims for jobless benefits last week and consumer confidence rose to the highest level in a year, pointing to gains in spending as job prospects brighten. Applications for jobless benefits decreased 15,000 in the week ended Feb. 4 to 358,000, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. Economists forecast 370,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to minus 41.7 in the period to Feb. 5 from minus 44.8 the previous week. The drop in firings comes a week after a report showed joblessness dropped to a three-year low in January, adding to evidence the labor market is recovering. More favorable views of the economy and finances mean consumers will continue to pick up the pace of spending.

Treasury Is to Sell Floating Rate Notes in Second Half, Bond Dealers Say (Source: Bloomberg)
The U.S. may begin selling floating- rate notes for the first time in the second half of the year to help sustain demand for Treasuries while funding record budget deficits, according to Wall Street bond dealers. Issuance may total about $10 billion a month, based on forecasts from nine of the 21 primary dealers that act as counterparties for the Federal Reserve. The Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, the group of bond dealers and investors that meets quarterly with the Treasury to share insights on the debt market, unanimously endorsed the sales, according to minutes of the group’s meeting released Feb. 1. A Treasury official who briefed reporters on condition of not being named said the next day that a decision on floating-rate notes could be made as soon as May.
The notes, in what would be the Treasury’s first new security since it began offering inflation-linked debt in 1997, would likely appeal to investors concerned that the Fed’s pledge to keep the federal funds rate at a record low through 2014 and other stimulus measures will eventually lead to an acceleration of inflation. The Treasury has said it may sell the securities to minimize borrowing costs, improve liquidity and expand its investor base as it funds a $1.1 trillion shortfall this year.

Banks Agree to $25B Deal to End Probe (Source: Bloomberg)
Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and three other U.S. banks reached a $25 billion settlement with 49 states and the federal government to end a probe of abusive foreclosure practices stemming from the collapse of the housing bubble. In what the U.S. called the largest federal-state civil settlement in the nation’s history, the banks have committed $20 billion in various forms of mortgage relief plus payments of $5 billion to state and federal governments. “There are something like 10 million-plus homes under water to the tune of half a trillion dollars,” said Lynn Turner, the former chief accounting officer at the Securities and Exchange Commission and a managing director at consulting firm Litinomics Inc. in Los Angeles. “I don’t think this settlement, which lets all the bank executives off the hook for filing false documents with courts, is going to make much of a dent.”

China’s January Exports Probably Fell: Minister (Source: Bloomberg)
Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said exports probably fell in January after foreign trade slowed in the second half of last year, as he pledged to maintain “stability” in the yuan’s exchange rate. Overseas sales last month “cannot make us optimistic” and are “expected to have negative year-on-year growth due to Chinese New Year and other factors,” Chen said yesterday in a written response to Bloomberg News. “Chinese trading companies, particularly small and micro businesses, have come under growing pressure.” Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell as much as 0.4 percent following the comments. Slowing trade adds pressure for monetary loosening to support economic growth even with officials yet to claim victory over inflation. Consumer-price gains picked up for the first time in six months in January, pushed up by holiday spending, a government report showed yesterday. Export data are due today, with the median estimate of analysts showing a 1.4 percent decline from a year earlier.

Australia Central Bank Says Slower Growth, Inflation Boost Rate-Cut Scope (Source: Bloomberg)
The Reserve Bank of Australia lowered its forecasts for growth and inflation this year, enabling policy makers to reduce the benchmark interest rate should the economy weaken significantly. “Inflation is forecast to remain around the midpoint of the target range for most of the next couple of years,” the central bank said today in its quarterly monetary policy statement. The outlook for consumer prices provides “scope for easier monetary policy should demand conditions weaken materially,” it said. The RBA sees average growth of 3.5 percent in 2012, down from its Nov. 4 estimate of 4 percent. Consumer prices will rise 3 percent in the year through to the fourth quarter, less than a previous prediction of 3.25 percent, the central bank said, while underlying inflation is predicted to be unchanged at 2.75 percent. The estimates are based on the overnight cash rate target remaining at its current level of 4.25 percent, it said.

Greece Rebuffed on Aid Over Austerity Vote (Source: Bloomberg)
European finance ministers held back a rescue package for Greece in a rebuff that left lawmakers in Athens under government pressure to endorse a newly minted austerity plan or exit the euro. “In short: no disbursement without implementation,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said in Brussels late yesterday after chairing emergency talks of euro-area policy makers. He set another extraordinary meeting for Feb. 15. The refusal to deliver a 130 billion-euro ($173 billion) bailout for Greece reflected the euro area’s frustration with the country’s bickering politicians and the prospect that they may again backtrack on fiscal commitments not passed into law.

Bank of England Adds $79 Billion to Stimulus as Crisis Threatens Economy (Source: Bloomberg)
Bank of England officials pumped another 50 billion pounds ($79 billion) into the U.K. economy to protect a nascent recovery from the threat posed by Europe’s debt crisis. The nine-member Monetary Policy Committee raised the target for bond purchases to 325 billion pounds, more than a quarter of current outstanding gilts, according to a statement in London today. The increase was forecast by 34 of 50 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Fifteen economists forecast a 75 billion- pound increase and one no change. The MPC also held its benchmark interest rate at a record-low 0.5 percent. The stimulus expansion suggests policy makers remain concerned that Europe’s failure to stem its debt turmoil poses a risk to Britain and may pull inflation below their 2 percent goal. While they noted an improvement in some business surveys last month, they said the growth outlook remains weak and that they had “concerns” about debt in some euro-area nations.

Greece Must Pass Austerity Plan Into Law to Get Troika Aid, Juncker Says (Source: Bloomberg)
Greece must pass its latest austerity package into law and identify 325 million euros in spending cuts before euro-area governments endorse a second bailout for the country, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said. “Despite the important progress achieved over the last days we didn’t yet have all necessary elements on the table to take decisions today,” Juncker said in Brussels after chairing an emergency meeting of euro-area finance ministers. Greek politicial leaders must also back the pact and provide assurances it will be carried through after forthcoming elections, Juncker said. European finance ministers will meet again next week.

Euro Finance Chiefs to Defer on Greece (Source: Bloomberg)
European finance chiefs are set to defer ratifying a 130 billion-euro ($173 billion) rescue for Greece, pressing the government in Athens to put a newly struck austerity plan into action. “It’s up to the Greek government by concrete actions -- through legislation, other actions -- to convince its European partners that the second program can be made to work,” European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said today as he arrived for an emergency meeting of euro-area finance ministers in Brussels. European stocks rose for the first time in four days and the euro reached a two-month high against the dollar as the accord in Athens after all-night talks spurred optimism over enactment of the financial lifeline and debt-swap agreement needed for Greece to dodge default and economic collapse.

Greece Delivers Austerity Accord to Win Approval for Bailout (Source: Bloomberg)
Greek political leaders announced agreement on austerity measures, clearing the way for a deal to cut the nation’s debt and win its second rescue in two years. “Discussions between the Greek government and the troika were successfully completed this morning,” Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos’s office said in an e-mailed statement today in Athens. “Political leaders have agreed with the result of those negotiations. Therefore there is a general agreement in the context of the new program ahead of tonight’s euro group meeting.” The statement didn’t include any details. The accord came after Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos arrived in Brussels for an emergency meeting of euro- region finance ministers to discuss the 130 billion-euro ($173 billion) lifeline and a debt swap that will impose a loss of about 70 percent for investors.

Draghi Softens Outlook on Risks as ECB Refuses to Show Its Hand on Greece (Source: Bloomberg)
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi signaled the economic outlook has improved, suggesting policy makers may be less inclined to add to stimulus as Greece reached agreement on austerity measures to secure a bailout. “The economic outlook remains subject to high uncertainty and downside risks,” Draghi said at a press conference in Frankfurt today. Last month, he said the outlook was subject to “substantial” downside risks. The ECB left its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 1 percent, as predicted by 55 of 57 economists in a Bloomberg News survey, and Draghi said officials didn’t discuss a rate change. “With the more optimistic outlook, a March rate cut is still possible but far from certain,” said Christian Schulz, senior economist at Berenberg Bank in London. “If the rebound in confidence indicators gains strength and more hard data confirms the trend, the ECB may leave rates unchanged.”

EU Sanctions on Iran’s Largest Ports Will Slash Legal Trade If Enforced (Source: Bloomberg)
New European Union sanctions on Iran’s largest ports operator will curb billions of euros in otherwise legal trade, if EU authorities police those seeking ways around the rules, according to trade lawyers, shipping and insurance executives and EU officials. The EU’s announcement of an Iranian oil embargo on Jan. 23 overshadowed an asset freeze approved the same day on Tidewater Middle East Co., Iran’s dominant ports operator, a move with consequences for European companies all along the trade and supply chain. The EU was Iran’s top trade partner in 2010, with about 13 billion euros ($17.3 billion) in non-petroleum trade that year, European Commission and International Monetary Fund figures show.
The new measure forbids any EU person or entity from making direct or indirect payments for Tidewater’s benefit. That means exporters, importers, shipowners and charterers can’t pay loading fees at Tidewater’s seven ports, including the Shaheed Rajaee complex at Bandar Abbas. Ninety percent of Iran’s container traffic passes through that port at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz.

20120210 0919 Soy Oil & Palm Oil Related News.

ITS CPO export down 7.7% to 342,982 tonnes for the period of 1~10 Feb 2012.
SGS CPO export down 4.3% to 337,618 tonnes for the period of 1~10 Feb 2012.

MPOB Official Data for the month of Jan 2012 vs Dec 2011
Exports down 13.2% to 1,381,315 tonnes
Stocks down 2.5% to 2,007,967 tonnes
Output down 13.9% to 1,287,194 tonnes

Reuters Survey : India's January vegetable oil imports seen up 6.6% to 714,375 tonnes vs Dec 2011.

Reuters : China January 2012 soy imports down 14.9% from Dec 2011 - customs

Soybeans (Source: CME)

US soybean futures ended lower, backpedaling from a midday rally. Lack of any surprises in USDA world supply and demand estimates coupled with no immediate weather problems for South American crops, left futures without a reason to hold early advances, analysts say. USDA provided its interpretation of the crop issue in South America, and while the industry may feel they're overstating production, hard to prove USDA's assessments are wrong today, says analyst Dan Cekander with Newedge. USDA report highlighted ample supply and demand market characteristics, a feature that encouraged traders to take some profits off the table. CBOT March soybeans ended down 4c at $12.27.

Soybean Meal/Oil (Source: CME)
Soy product futures drift lower, mirroring price movements in soybean futures. USDA's smaller-than-expected cut in South American soybean production estimates and beneficial rains moving through the region took crop fears out of the market, analysts say. Absence of new crop threats produced some consolidative price action, with soymeal and soyoil ending near unchanged levels. CBOT March soymeal ended down $0.70 lower at $321.00/short ton, March soyoil finished 0.04c lower to 52.54c/lb.

Palm oil slips ahead of key industry data
SINGAPORE, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Malaysian crude palm oil slipped after rallying the previous day as traders booked profits ahead of the release of  two key reports, while uncertainty over the euro zone debt crisis also dampened investors' risk appetite.
"Since last Thursday, prices have soared about 123 ringgit and open interest surged almost 6,553 lots. However futures rallied ahead of cash and refiners were buying at a steep discount to futures," said a trader with a local commodities brokerage in Kuala Lumpur.

Brazil soy crop seen at 71 mln T - Agroconsult
SAO PAULO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Brazil's 2011/12 soybean crop now being harvested is estimated at 71 million tonnes, down 3 percent from the previous forecast due to the effects of drought, agricultural commodities forecasters Agroconsult said on Wednesday.
Agroconsult has teams touring Brazil's grain belt and some early data has prompted the forecasters to lower their outlook due to the effects of the drought that has been hitting the country's southern farm belt.

Weekly rains to favor Brazil soy, corn crops
SAO PAULO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Cold fronts bring rain to Brazil's grain belt that will favor the formation of the late maturing soybeans in the south and the plantings of the winter corn crop, but will slow harvesting of soybeans in the center-west.
Independent weather forecaster Somar said a cold front would drop widespread rains on Thursday over the No. 2 and No. 3 soybean growing states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil's parched southern grain belt.

Malaysia's Jan palm oil stocks seen at 5-month low
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Malaysia's palm oil stocks probably fell to a five-month low in January as a drop in exports outran a fall in production, a Reuters median survey of six plantation houses showed on Thursday.
Stocks in the world's No.2 producer of the tropical oil probably dropped 2.2 percent to nearly 2 million tonnes, a level unseen since August, as heavy rains disrupted harvesting and overseas buyers shifted orders to Indonesia.

20120210 0919 Global Commodities Related News.

Corn (Source: CME)
US corn futures end lower, retreating amid farmer selling and profit-taking after a USDA report failed to provide fresh support. Although prices climbed early in the session after USDA raised projected exports by 50M bushels, traders say that was well within expectations. The weaker close after early gains could be negative technically, traders add, prompting more selling. Analysts say farmers may be wary of missing out on chance to sell at prices well above historical norms. Still, projected US stockpiles are relatively small, and traders say it'll take a big crop to get back to comfortable supply levels. CBOT March corn ends down 5 1/2c to $6.37/bushel.

Wheat (Source: CME)
US wheat futures stumble, fueled by larger world wheat stock estimates from government forecasters. Bullish traders were disappointed with world supplies rising to new record-high levels, said analyst Dan Cekander Newedge USA in Chicago. Market also lacked any new bullish weather developments to justify pushing prices higher, Cekander added. Wheat had previous climbed on threats to Europe and Black Sea wheat, but with world supplies adequate to meet global demand even with crop losses, wheat futures were seen as overvalued. CBOT March wheat ended down 14 3/4c to $6.46/bushel; March KCBT wheat down 18c at $6.92; March MGEX wheat dropped 9 3/4c to $8.31 3/4.

Rice (Source: CME)
US rice futures end lower as the USDA continues to show large supplies and weak demand. The USDA cut projected US rice exports by 1 million metric tons to 89 million, while also raising world production and stockpile estimates. The market has been under pressure for months by weak fundamentals. CBOT March rice ends down 12 1/2c to $14.08 per hundredweight.

Soy ticks up, grains steady as market eyes USDA report
SINGAPORE, Feb 9 (Reuters) - U.S. soybeans edged higher to trade around a three-month top, while corn and wheat were little changed as investors squared positions ahead of a U.S. government report on global demand-supply of grains and oilseeds.
"I don't think the USDA will go as far as the market is at the moment," said Victor Thianpiriya, an agricultural commodity strategist at ANZ. "I think the market for Argentina and Brazil is probably somewhere around 46 million tonnes and 70 million tonnes respectively, but they may not make any change at all for Argentina and downgrade little bit for Brazil."

Philippines may limit 2013 rice imports to 100,000 T
MANILA, Feb 9 (Reuters) - The Philippines, one of the world's major rice buyers, may cut its rice imports to 100,000 tonnes next year as it aims to become self-sufficient in the grain by the end of 2013, a senior government official said on Wednesday.
The Southeast Asian country, which plans to import 500,000 tonnes of rice this year, will limit next year's purchases to cover its buffer stock needs, Assistant Secretary Dante De Lima told reporters.

Iran payment for India rice to unlock itself-secretary
NEW DELHI, Feb 9 (Reuters) - A payment problem over Indian rice exports to Iran will "unlock itself" once the trade settlement mechanism gets sorted out, India's trade secretary Rahul Khullar said on Thursday.
Iranian buyers have defaulted on payments for about 200,000 tonnes of rice from their top supplier India, a sign of the mounting pressure on Tehran from a new wave of Western sanctions.

Snow is answer to prayers for N.Africa grain growers
ALGIERS, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Cold weather spreading from Europe into North Africa has helped the grain crops in Algeria and Tunisia by dumping snow and rain, breaking a drought so severe that mosques had offered up prayers for rain.
Neighbouring Morocco though, missed out on the precipitation and a farmers' representative said the combination of cold and lack of rain could hurt crops there, with sugar beet and cane especially vulnerable.

Russia started grain loading in Novo port on Wed-Ifax
MOSCOW, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Russia resumed grain loading to the ships at the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk on Wednesday, Interfax news agency reported citing the port's representative.
The port began to load grain and metals for the ships, moored before the stormy weather started, Interfax reported. Loading to the ships currently at sea will start after the storm warning is lifted, it added.

Ukraine grain exports at 225,000 T Feb 1-6
KIEV, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Ukraine exported about 225,000 tonnes of grain, mostly maize, in the first six days in February, Kiev-based ProAgro consultancy said on Wednesday, citing data from Ukrainian sea ports.
ProAgro said Ukraine had exported about 195,000 tonnes of maize and 25,000 tonnes of wheat so far this month. No figures for the same year earlier period were immediately available.

Argentina Exchange Cuts Corn Forecast But Rain Helps Crops (Source: CME)
Surprisingly heavy rain storms soaked Argentina's parched crops just in time over the past two weeks, stemming damage to corn and putting soybeans on track for a good season. "It's a tremendous relief," Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange crop analyst Esteban Copati said in an interview. The exchange cut its forecast for 2011-12 corn production to 21.3 million metric tons, down from 22 million tons estimated last week, but the recent showers have stemmed the losses, Copati said. Early in the season, analysts had expected corn production of up to 30 million tons, but hot, dry weather in December and January baked many of the fields. Corn planted early in the season was hit hardest by the drought during key growing phases, but some of those losses will be made up by high yields in the northern fields where planting happened later and got a good soaking, Copati said. Argentina is the world's second-largest corn exporter, and fears of a lingering drought in South America had helped buoy global prices.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture also cut its corn estimate for Argentina to 22 million tons, down from its forecast of 26 million tons last month. Argentina's corn harvest will start later this month and continue through June. The storms also come as a blessing to the developing soy crop, which is entering key development phases and was desperate for a big drink. "The surprisingly big storms were great," Copati said. Argentina leads global soymeal and soyoil exports, and ranks third in soybean shipments. The exchange left its forecast for production at 46.2 million tons, but that could be upped if the weather continues to cooperate, Copati said. The USDA trimmed its forecast for Argentina's 2011-12 soybean production, pegging the crop at 48 million tons, compared to the 50.5 million tons estimated last month. The soy harvest will kick off in March and extend through July.

Cargill says still supplying Iran with grain
GENEVA, Feb 8 (Reuters) - U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill plans to continue grain shipments to Iran, its vice chairman said on Wednesday, despite signs the Islamic Republic is struggling to process payments as  trade sanctions bite.
"Like all the international companies, we do business there, but you have to be very careful," Paul Conway told Reuters in an interview.

Signs build that Iran sanctions disrupt food imports
KUALA LUMPUR/TEHRAN, Feb 8 (Reuters) - More evidence emerged of the crippling impact of new sanctions on Iran, with international traders saying Tehran is having trouble buying rice, cooking oil and other staples to feed its 74 million people weeks before an election.
New U.S. financial sanctions imposed since the beginning of this year to punish Tehran over its nuclear programme are playing havoc with Iran's ability to buy imports and receive payment for its oil exports, commodities traders said.

World Food Prices Up In January For 1st Time Since July -FAO (Source: CME)
World food prices increased in January for the first time since July 2011, with an overall gain of almost 2% led by oils and cereals due to unfavorable weather in cultivating areas, the Food and Agricultural Organization said, adding to the potential for further gains in February. "There is scope for an upwards move for February's index as this month has already started on a high tone," Abdolreza Abbassian, grains analyst for the FAO warned. "Firmer equity markets, a weaker dollar, and high energy prices could support food prices this month," he added. Weather conditions in major food commodity producing nations remains another factor that adds to uncertainty for global food prices, Abdolreza warned. Food price inflation climbed toward the top of the international agenda after hitting successive record highs in the early part of last year amid global supply concerns of cereals, sugar and cocoa, before five straight months of decline--the longest slide in over two years.
Rising food prices were also partly blamed for sparking the unrest in the region--known as the Arab Spring--last year that saw the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya fall. But the FAO's Intergovernmental Group on Grains warned in December that prices could be bottoming out. The FAO's food price index averaged 214 points in January 2012, four points up from December, the Rome-based United Nations organization said. However, the index remains 7% below its corresponding value a year earlier. "Firming import demand for palm and soy oil, combined with a seasonal decline in palm oil production and the prospect of below average export availabilities of soy oil were the main driving forces behind the recovery in the index," the FAO said. In January, prices of all commodity groups that make up the index posted gains, with oils increasing the most, followed closely by cereals, sugar, dairy and meat, the FAO said.
The FAO oils/fats price index rose to 234 points in January, up 3% on December's levels, but remains below levels posted in the same period a year earlier. The price of cereals, one of the main components of the index, increased 2.3% in January, led primarily by price gains in corn, which rose 6% driven by a tight global supply-demand balance amid concerns over crop prospects in South America. Wheat prices also gained, but less sharply than those of corn. The wheat index was up 1.5% in January, the FAO said, citing rising corn prices as both are used for feed wheat, reduced Russian export levels and unfavorable weather in several important grain cultivating regions.
Meat prices nudged up half a percentage point in January, although the prices of various meat types followed mixed directions, the FAO said. Pig meat gained almost 3%, led by the anticipation of higher imports by China, but poultry prices fell by 1% weighed by the strength of the U.S. dollar against some major exporter currencies, especially Brazil. Dairy prices lifted 2.5% in January, marking the first upturn after five months of steady declines. "A rebounding of butter and cheese prices are behind this month's strength, as prices of both skim and whole milk powder were steady or slightly down," the FAO said. "Relatively low stocks of dairy products in the U.S. along with supply tightness in Oceania have sustained prices in the past two months."
Sugar prices were up 2.3%, albeit to levels 20% lower than in January last year, largely driven by unfavorable weather conditions in top producer Brazil, spurring fears that it could delay its harvest and cut production levels. Still, large harvests in India, the European Union, Russia and Thailand capped the increases. The World Bank estimates 44 million people may have been pushed into poverty by last year's price rises, and aid agencies warn high food costs threaten millions more.

Brazil's Jan. green coffee exports down 28 pct yr/yr
BRASILIA, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Top coffee producer Brazil shipped 1.86 million 60-kg bags of unroasted, green beans in January, down 28 percent from 2.59 million bags in the same month of 2011, the Council of Green Coffee Exporters, Cecafe, said on Wednesday.

Brazil's Bahia main cocoa crop peters out slowly
SAO PAULO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Deliveries of cocoa to warehouses in Brazil's top growing state Bahia slipped in the past week, the Bahia Commercial Association said, but output for the time of year has kept above average for weeks even as the main crop fades.
Output from other states through Jan. 5 fell sharply from a week earlier, Bahia-based analyst Thomas Hartmann said, as producers finished clearing accumulated stocks that boosted sales in those areas in January.

Brazil center-south enjoys good cane crop weather
SAO PAULO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Brazil's main center-south cane crop, which will kick off its crushing season in April, is getting hot and sunny weather after a wet January, perfect conditions for cane plants to make sugars, local forecasters Somar said on Wednesday.
Last season, Brazil's center-south cane region had its first drop in output in a decade, as aging cane plants and a few years of bad weather hurt yields in the region, the world's biggest producer of sugar.

S.Africa raises 2011/12 sugar output f'cast to 1.825 mln T
JOHANNESBURG, Feb 8 (Reuters) - South Africa's 2011/12 sugar output is estimated at 1.825 million tonnes, slightly up from a previous forecast of 1.82 million tonnes, the South African Sugar Association (SASA) said.  
Sugarcane crush was forecast at 16.8 million tonnes from 16.787 million tonnes, the industry association, which represents producers and millers of the sweetener in Africa's biggest economy, said in a statement on its website.

Indian Sugar Industry Hopeful Of Deregulation Soon Following Panel Set Up (Source: CME)
Top players in India's sugar industry are cautiously optimistic of seeing an end to the present regime of tight controls as the government sets up a panel to look into the impact of deregulation. "Within a maximum of 6 months' time, the majority of the government controls will go," P. Chengal Reddy, secretary general of the Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations, told Zawya Dow Jones on the sidelines of the Kingsman sugar conference in Dubai recently. India, the world's second-largest sugar producer, sets the supply amount of the sweetener to be sold in the local market, as well as for welfare programs each month, in order to keep a cap on prices. However, Abinash Varma, Director General of Indian Sugar Mills Association, or ISMA, is more cautious. "I don't think the government will deregulate everything; they'll retain some tools to control the price and availability."
The present regulated regime has the government laying down the law right from the stage of setting up a sugar factory; the distance between two factories; the allocation of cane area from where a factory has to buy even if cane can be acquired cheaper elsewhere; and even the packaging of sugar. Varma wants the levy system--under which mills are obliged to supply 10% of their output to the public distribution system, often at a discount to the cost of production--to be removed immediately. "There should be no obligation on the mills. If the government wants to distribute sugar under the public distribution system to its [economically] vulnerable groups, they should bear the burden," he said, and as this would mean an additional $816 million annually for welfare program sales, the food ministry isn't keen on dismantling this control. "What we're asking is for them to remove all controls; let free market economy play its role," Reddy said.
Varma also wants the government to look at linking the sugarcane price to the sugar price, so that the cycle in production seen every 3 or 5 years can be controlled. "Today there's no linkage; the price of cane is politically fixed, while the price of sugar is artificially pushed down--there's no relationship between them." Reddy feels India's potential in sugar, ethanol and power capacities is exceptional but under-realized due to government regulation. "While ethanol can be helpful both to the Indian farmer and the industry, the government is not very liberal with the pricing. The price they pay for petroleum products is not paid for biofuels."

Copper Traders Turn Bullish as Inventories Drop to 2009 Low: Commodities (Source: Bloomberg)
Copper traders turned bullish for the first time in seven weeks on mounting confidence that global growth will strengthen, diminishing stockpiles after a year in which mine production fell by a record amount. Thirteen of 25 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect the metal to gain next week and three were neutral. Hedge funds and other money managers are holding their biggest bet on rising prices since early August, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Inventories tracked by the London Metal Exchange are already at a two-year low after global mine output dropped by 200,000 metric tons in 2011, Barclays Capital estimates. Investments (.CMDOI) in commodities expanded at the quickest pace in six years in January on increasing confidence economies will skirt another recession, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Higher demand comes at a time when producers are struggling to keep up, as lower ore grades, strikes and slower-than-expected mine developments limit supply growth.
Barclays anticipates a third consecutive copper shortage in 2012 and another one next year.

Green Plains Renewable Energy CEO: Has Cut Ethanol Output At Two Plants (Source: CME)
The U.S. ethanol industry is rapidly scaling back production in response to a supply glut that has weighed heavily on producers' profit margins, the head of the nation's fourth-largest ethanol producer said. Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc. is among the companies cutting back, having scaled back production by 30% at two of its nine plants, CEO Todd Becker said. Becker said he is starting to hear of widespread moves to cut production, and that the industry has more discipline than many people realize, and can cut back more quickly than other industries that rely on corn. "This isn't like feeding chickens," Becker said in an interview after the company announced fourth-quarter earnings. "You can slow a plant down by pressing a button." Becker added that the company is assessing its production daily and will make further cuts if necessary.
Ethanol producers say that very strong margins in the fourth quarter of 2011 prompted plants to ramp up output. That increase was ill-timed, as it was met by surprisingly weak gasoline demand and declining ethanol exports to Brazil. Ethanol stocks of 21,063 barrels are up 23.4% in the past two months, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Exports should remain an important part of the market, Becker said. He projected ethanol exports this year of 500 million gallons, versus 1 billion gallons in just the first 11 months of 2011. Green Plains's strategy contrasts with Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), which said last week it sees little benefit to scaling back production and would continue to "run hard" at its plants. ADM announced the closure of a small ethanol plant last week, but cited the location of the North Dakota plant and its small scale, rather than market conditions.
For the fourth quarter, Omaha, Neb.-based Green Plains reported earnings of $13.3 million, or 36 cents per share, down from $16.4 million, or 44 cents, the prior year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had been expecting earnings of $16.4 million, or 41 cents per share. Green Plains's revenue of $922.8 million was up from $757 million the prior year. The company has spent the past couple of years trying to diversify to protect against ethanol industry downturns. It has begun extracting corn oil during its ethanol production to provide a new revenue stream, and has added five million bushels of grain storage over the past year, bringing its total capacity to 39.1 million bushels. "We want to buy more elevators, we want to buy more terminal assets around distribution," he said. Becker said the company will also look for ethanol plants, but that "good ones are hard to buy."

Brent rises above $117 on demand hopes, Iran woes
SINGAPORE, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Brent crude held near six-month highs above $117 on hopes that demand would pick up as Greece inched closer to getting its debt crisis under control, while concerns over supply disruption from the Middle East provided support.
"There is hope that the Greek debt crisis will be sorted out soon with an agreement on all the components getting discussed," said Natalie Robertson, an analyst at ANZ bank. "On the supply side, there are a lot of risks at the moment and that will keep prices supported, particularly Brent."

China oil demand growth seen easing in 2012 -CNPC research
BEIJING, Feb 9 (Reuters) - China's implied oil demand will likely rise 5 percent this year to 9.9 million barrels per day, according to an industry research report, a pace slower than 2011, as easing economic expansion caps fuel consumption in the world's No.2 user.
National crude throughput could climb to 470 million tonnes, or 9.4 million bpd, an increase of 5.4 percent or about 480,000 bpd this year, according to a forecast by a research arm of top state energy group CNPC.

Oil Trades Near Three-Week High on U.S. Economic Outlook, Greek Debt Deal (Source: Bloomberg)
Oil traded near the highest price in three weeks in New York on speculation that fuel demand may increase after U.S. jobless claims fell and Greek politicians agreed on measures needed to qualify for international aid. Futures were little changed, heading for a weekly gain, after advancing for a third day yesterday in the longest winning streak this year. U.S. applications for jobless benefits slid by 15,000 to 358,000 in the week ended Feb. 4, according to the Labor Department. The Greek government agreed with political party leaders on austerity measures needed to qualify for the financing package, an e-mailed statement from Prime Minister Lucas Papademos’s office in Athens showed. Oil for March delivery was at $99.75 a barrel, down 9 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 10:21 a.m. Sydney time. The contract yesterday rose 1.1 percent to $99.84, the highest close since Jan. 19. Prices are up 2 percent this week and 15 percent higher the past year.