Wednesday, February 15, 2012

20120215 1814 FCPO EOD Daily Chart Study.

FCPO closed : 3197, changed : -8 points, volume : lower.
Bollinger band reading : side way range bound.
MACD Histrogram : rising, buyer taking exposure.
Support : 3150, 3100, 3070, 3050 level.
Resistance : 3200, 3250, 3270, 3300 level.
Comment :
FCPO corrected lower with slower volume exchanged. Soy oil price currently trading higher after overnight closed marginally lower while crude oil price trading higher above 101 per barrel.
Price traded range bound swing between gains and losses but still closed in negative zone after both cargo surveyor reported slowing down export data.
Chart study has turned to suggesting a side way range bound market development testing support and resistance level.
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.

20120215 1734 FKLI EOD Daily Chart Study.

FKLI closed : 1560.5, changed : +1 points, volume : higher.
Bollinger band reading : correction range bound upside biased.
MACD Histrogram : turned lower, buyer lock on profit.
Support : 1550, 1540, 1530, 1515 level.
Resistance : 1565, 1570, 1580, 1590 level.
Comment :
FKLI closed 1 points higher with improved but relatively low volume participation doing about 1 point discount compare to cash market that closed lower. Overnight U.S. markets closed mixed and today Asia markets traded higher while European markets also trading in positive territory.
Global markets lifted higher as investors welcomed China statement that pledged to help European region debt crisis.
Technical study remained unchanged 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.

20120215 1707 Regional Markets EOD Daily Chart Study.

 DJIA chart reading :  correction range bound upside biased.
 Hang Seng chart reading : upside biased with possible pullback correction.
KLCI chart reading :  pullback correction upside biased.

20120215 1641 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

FOREX-Dollar hits 3-1/2 month high vs yen; seen extending gains
TOKYO, Feb 15 (Reuters) - The dollar hit a fresh 3-1/2-month high against the yen on Wednesday and was seen extending its recent gains as the Bank of Japan's easing steps the day before helped trigger more stop-loss buying.
On top of the BOJ's expansion of its asset-buying scheme, Japan's shrinking current account surplus, its trade deficit and signs of economic recovery in the United States were all weighing on the yen, triggering big gains in the shares of Japanese exporters on Wednesday.

Markets consolidate as EU tests Greek commitment
TOKYO, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Markets consolidated as investors waited on Greece to demonstrate its commitment to deliver harsh reforms in exchange for a vital rescue deal, while European officials scaled back expectations
"The adoption of such targets coincided with the burst of the IT bubble which sent global equities lower, but stock markets of these Asian countries were the first to emerge from the downtrend," said Eiji Kinouchi, chief technical analyst at Daiwa Securities.

US soy dips from 4-month high; corn, wheat firm
SINGAPORE, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Chicago soybeans fell as the market took a breather after prices climbed to a four-month high in the last session, boosted by the prospect of more U.S. exports as hot and dry conditions threaten Brazil's crop.
"The market is watching the situation in Brazil and Argentina: people still think that South American production is lower than what the USDA has estimated."

Collision disrupts grain exports at Brazil port
SAO PAULO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - About a quarter of Brazil's shipments of soy and corn to world markets were disrupted on Tuesday, a day after a dry bulk carrier collided with and damaged a major grain terminal at Santos Port.
Late on Monday, the dry bulk carrier MV Milagro, under the Maltese flag, knocked into the water one of the four grain loaders at the Guaruja Grain Terminals (TGG) complex at Santos, Latin America's largest port, a TGG representative said on Tuesday.

Downpours set to reach Argentine farm belt on Thursday
BUENOS AIRES, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Abundant rains should sweep across Argentina's main agricultural belt starting on Thursday, bringing further relief to late-planted soy and corn crops affected by a long drought, a local forecaster said on Tuesday.
Crops in the South American country, the world's biggest provider of soybean oil and meal and the No. 2 corn supplier, will have lower yields than initially expected this season after weeks of dry weather that came to an end in mid-January.

Rains hamper key Colombian coffee flowering period
BOGOTA, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Colombia is likely to see a worse-than-expected main coffee harvest in late 2012 as heavy rains limit sunlight and damage flowering in key producing provinces, farmers and exporters said on Tuesday.
Flowering in the first few months of the year is critical for when Colombia harvests its main crop from September to December in six of its eastern and central provinces, which account for more than 61 percent of total national output.

Brazil sugar output minimal in interharvest -Unica
BRASILIA, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Brazil's center south cane crushing and sugar output was minimal in the last fortnight with only a handful of mills still crushing the mostly finished 2011/12 harvest, data from cane industry association Unica showed on Tuesday.
The total amount of sugar cane harvested between April 1 last year, when the season began, and Feb. 1 was down 11.4 percent to 493.5 million tonnes compared with the crush of the entire 2010/11 season.

Euro Coal-Prices stable despite many cargo offers
LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Heavy selling of prompt DES ARA cargoes continued on Tuesday by utilities and traders but there were more buyers in evidence than at the start of the week and prices were barely changed.
A rise in temperatures after a spell of freezing weather has trimmed gas and power demand and prices but had little effect on coal, principally because coal prices showed a minimal reaction to the freeze.

Oil World forecasts small Ukrainian rapeseed crop
HAMBURG, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The double blow of bitterly cold winter weather and an autumn drought will cut Ukraine's 2012 rapeseed crop to 1.05 million tonnes from 1.38 million tonnes in 2011, Hamburg-based oilseeds analysts Oil World forecast on Tuesday.
"This reflects very dry autumn conditions due to which more than 20 percent of the Ukrainian rapeseed area failed to emerge and recent winter kill temperatures, potentially resulting in additional irreversible damage to the already low crop," Oil World said.

Chinalco unit sees China 2012 aluminium output up 10.5 pct
HONG KONG, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The trading arm of Aluminum Corp of China expects China's production of primary aluminium to rise 10.5 percent this year as capacity grows, even as weak aluminium prices spurred some smelters to delay the start-up of new capacity in January, said a report on the company's website (
Chinalco is the country's top aluminium producer through its listed Chalco.

China's Feb-March refined copper imports to fall on weak demand
HONG KONG, Feb 14 (Reuters) - China is likely to import less refined copper from the spot market in February and March due to plentiful stocks and weak demand which are also weighing on Shanghai prices, industry sources said on Tuesday.  
Purchases by the world's top copper consumer are also being limited by unfavourable arbitrage, with traders refraining from buying copper from the London Metals Exchange and selling it in the Shanghai Futures Exchange or the domestic spot market due to the lower prices.

Copper rebounds, eyes Greece resolution
SHANGHAI, Feb 15 (Reuters) - London copper rose  after falling for three sessions, as the dollar fell and markets waited for Greece's final steps to implement a debt deal and avert a messy default, but lack of buying from China capped gains.
"The Greece saga is just dragging and dragging -- there's no sense of closure and this week we're going to see more of the same," metals analyst Edward Meir at INTL FCStone said.

India Odisha state halts operations at SAIL iron ore mine
BHUBANESWAR, India, Feb 14 (Reuters) - India's eastern Odisha state has asked Steel Authority of India (SAIL), the country's largest domestic steel producer, to stop operations at Bolani iron ore mine after forest clearance expired on Feb. 11, a government official said.
"It was a three-month temporary working permission. They have been asked to stop all kinds of mining activities till they obtain the clearance," U.C. Jena, Odisha's deputy director for mines, told Reuters.

Chinalco unit sees China 2012 aluminium output up 10.5 pct
HONG KONG, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The trading arm of Aluminum Corp of China expects China's production of primary aluminium to rise 10.5 percent this year as capacity grows, even as weak aluminium prices spurred some smelters to delay the start-up of new capacity in January, said a report on the company's website
Chinalco is the country's top aluminium producer through its listed Chalco  .

Aurubis to close Swiss copper products plant
HAMBURG, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Aurubis AG , Europe's largest copper producer, will close its copper products plant in Yverdon-Les-Bains in Switzerland and transfer output to its works in Olen in Belgium.
The Swiss plant produces about 4,400 tonnes of complex copper profiles annually, mostly specialist units for individual customer orders.

Brent  holds above $118 as supply trumps Euro zone woes
SINGAPORE, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Brent crude held above $118 as supply concerns in the Middle East sparked by tensions over Iran and disruptions in South Sudan trumped a worrisome outlook for Greece, which could face a messy bankruptcy.  
"The oil market continues to be caught between a deterioration in the global economy and supply issues, including actual supply disruptions in Sudan," said Jeremy Friesen, a commodity strategist at Societe Generale.

S.Korea LNG stock at over 60 pct of storage capacity
SEOUL, Feb 15 (Reuters) - South Korea's current inventory of liquefied natural gas (LNG) is at over 60 percent of the country's storage capacity of 3.8 million tonnes, down from 80 percent of capacity as of mid-January, a government source said on Wednesday.
The inventory is "slightly higher than usual levels seen at this time of a year," the source said. South Korea's LNG imports dropped by 41 percent in January from a year earlier, customs data showed earlier on Wednesday.

US crude stocks seen up fourth straight week
Feb 14 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil inventories likely rose last week for the fourth straight time on higher imports and as refinery utilization dipped, an expanded Reuters poll of analysts showed on Tuesday.
On average, the poll showed that domestic crude stockpiles added 1.5 million barrels in the week to Feb. 10, with nine out of 11 analysts predicting a build, according to the poll.

Iron Ore-Shanghai steel falls for 5th day, ore at 6-week low
SINGAPORE, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Shanghai steel futures fell for a fifth straight day to one-month lows on Wednesday, dragging down benchmark spot iron ore to its weakest in six weeks and underscoring China's slow steel market that traders hope will pick up pace next month.
Australian miner Fortescue Metals Group , which sells the bulk of its iron ore to China, is among those looking at a recovery in Chinese steel demand next month, saying it sees iron ore prices rising in the near term.

Gold edges up, fresh Greek concerns still weigh
SINGAPORE, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Gold edged higher but remained in a tight range around $1,720 an ounce, with investors on the sidelines because Greece has yet to convince European leaders of its ability to stick to unpopular reforms needed to secure a bailout.
"The postponement of the Greek cause seems to have taken some motivation out of the metal's trade," said a Singapore-based trader.

METALS-Copper rebounds, eyes Greece resolution
SHANGHAI, Feb 15 (Reuters) - London copper rose on Wednesday after falling for three sessions, as the dollar fell and markets waited for Greece's final steps to implement a debt deal and avert a messy default, but lack of buying from China capped gains.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange  rose 0.9 percent to $8,488 a tonne by 0414 GMT, paring losses from the previous session.  

PRECIOUS-Gold edges up, fresh Greek concerns still weigh
SINGAPORE, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Gold edged higher on Wednesday but remained in a tight range around $1,720 an ounce, with investors on the sidelines because Greece has yet to convince European leaders of its ability to stick to unpopular reforms needed to secure a bailout.
Euro zone finance ministers dropped plans on Tuesday for a special face-to-face meeting on Greece's new international bailout, saying political party chiefs in Athens had failed to provide the required commitment to reform.

20120215 1055 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

GLOBAL MARKETS-Markets consolidate as EU tests Greek commitment
TOKYO, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Markets consolidated on Wednesday as investors waited on Greece to demonstrate its commitment to deliver harsh reforms in exchange for a vital rescue deal, while European officials scaled back expectations Athens will live up to its promises.
"Risk sentiment is trading sideways, trapped between ECB support and solvency concerns," Barclays Capital said in a note.

COMMODITIES-Supply worry boosts Brent, demand worry hits copper
NEW YORK, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Commodity markets ended mixed on Tuesday, with copper falling a third straight day on worries about weak U.S. and Chinese demand and Brent crude oil closing up on supply threats in a tense Middle East, while agricultural markets moved with their own unique fundamentals.
"It all falls back to credit ... people are not spending," said Zachary Oxman, managing director with TrendMax in Encinitas, California.

Brent edges up at expiry, eyeing Iran, Europe
NEW YORK, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Brent March crude edged up at the contract expiration on Tuesday, while nearby Brent and U.S. crude prices dipped, as investors weighed potential supply threats in a tense Middle East and persistent concerns about the euro zone economy.
"Book squaring on the March Brent contract ahead of today's expiration was (a) feature of the trade," Tim Evans, energy analyst for Citi Futures Perspective, said in a note.

US natgas futures end up 4 pct on technical buying
NEW YORK, Feb 14 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures ended sharply higher on Tuesday, backed by technical buying after an early move into oversold territory, even though weather forecasts remain mild and supplies are at record levels.
"Discussions of increased fuel switching and nuclear outages abound ... Today's play seems mostly technical given the outlook for relative inventory gains to be reported this week." Gelber & Associates analyst Pax Saunders said in a report.

Euro Coal-Prices stable despite many cargo offers
LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Heavy selling of prompt DES ARA cargoes continued on Tuesday by utilities and traders but there were more buyers in evidence than at the start of the week and prices were barely changed.
"This market is looking shaky, Europe especially," one major producer said.

Global ship fuel rules may bring diesel surprise
--Robert Campbell is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own--
NEW YORK, Feb 14 - A global shift to lower sulfur ship fuels from Jan. 1 appears to be giving an extra boost to demand for diesel fuel and the situation could worsen from August once tighter restrictions in North American waters take effect.
From Jan. 1 the International Maritime Organization has mandated a maximum 3.5 percent sulfur content in most marine bunker fuels, down from a previous 4.5 percent maximum.

U.S. crude futures start to look stretched
--John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own--
LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Is the oil market heading for a repeat of last year: a big run up in prices during the first few months followed by a sudden crash when the inflows of investment money dry up and early entrants try to realise their gains?
There are eerie parallels. Like last year, strongly accommodative central bank policy from the Federal Reserve and signs of recovering economic activity in North America and Western Europe are coupling with physical supply disruptions to encourage a more bullish outlook for oil.

US crude stocks seen up fourth straight week
Feb 14 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil inventories likely rose last week for the fourth straight time on higher imports and as refinery utilization dipped, an expanded Reuters poll of analysts showed on Tuesday.
On average, the poll showed that domestic crude stockpiles added 1.5 million barrels in the week to Feb. 10, with nine out of 11 analysts predicting a build, according to the poll.

US gasoline demand falls as prices rise -MasterCard
NEW YORK, Feb 14 (Reuters) - U.S. gasoline demand fell last week as the retail price of the fuel rose across the nation, MasterCard said in its weekly SpendingPulse report on Tuesday.
Retail gasoline demand for the week fell 5.4 percent from a year ago while sliding 3.1 percent from the previous week, MasterCard said.

20120215 0945 Malaysia Corporate Related News.

Abu Dhabi fund eyes sale of USD1.3bn stake in RHB Cap
An Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund is exploring the sale of its USD1.3bn stake in Malaysian lender RHB Capital six months after buying the shares, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, and has engaged in early talks with Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp (SMBC). Aabar Investments’ 25% holding in RHB has dropped in value by about a third since it bought the stake for USD1.9bn last year from Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC. (Reuters)

RCE raises funds to repay loans
RCE Capital will undertake a series of corporate exercises for the repayment of bank borrowings, working capital-related purposes and to reward its shareholders. It told Bursa Malaysia yesterday that it intended to raise total gross proceeds of RM178.39m to RM182.10m from the proposed renounceable rights issue of up to 479.198m new redeemable convertible non-cumulative preference shares (RCPS) of 10 sen each, on the basis of two RCPS for every five shares held after the proposed bonus issue. (StarBiz)

Dayang unit wins RM125m Talisman job
Dayang Enterprise holdings wholly-owned subsidiary, Dayang Enterprise SB, recently won a contract from Talisman Malaysia worth RM125m. It said the contract is for the provision of topside general maintenance. The duration of the contract is for a primary period of three years, with the option of an extension for two years of one year each. (Financial Daily) Please see accompanying report

Petra Energy to buy Labuan yard site for RM16m
Petra Energy’s unit Petra Resources SB has proposed to buy two parcels of land in Labuan which is it currently renting, for RM16m. The two parcels of leasehold land measured 2.294 ha were currently used for its fabrication and construction activities. (Financial Daily)

Sentoria shares oversubscribed by 5.4 times
Sentoria Group public tranche was oversubscribed by 5.4 times for its IPO on the main market of Bursa Malaysia. Sentoria received a total of 6,829 applications for 127.2m shares with a total value of RM108.1m, for the public tranche of 20m shares under the group’s IPO. (StarBiz)

Malaysian banks with stakes in Indonesian financial institutions no longer need to sell down their holdings as Indonesia is reportedly not going ahead with a plan to limit ownership. According to a Reuters report yesterday, Indonesia's state deposit agency (LPS) said the country will not implement a planned regulation to limit ownership in domestic banks because it does not want to scare away potential foreign investors from the sale of state-owned Bank Mutiara. (TheSunDaily)

The completion of the merger between SapuraCrest Petroleum and Kencana Petroleum Bhd has been delayed by a month while both companies iron out their respective "administrative" issues. The merger of the two oil and gas companies was initially slated for completion at the end of Feb, 2012, but Kencana Group Chief Executive officer Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir said it is likely that the target would not be met. However, the listing of the newly-merged entity, to be known as Sapura Kencana Petroleum Bhd, will still be able to meet its end-March target, said SapuraCrest group president and CEO Datuk Seri Shahril Shamsuddin. (Malaysian Reserve)

Puncak Niaga clarified that it has not formalised any solid waste management contracts in Cambodia with the local government authorities. It has also not bid for the development of marginal oil fields and brownfields in Malaysia. (NST, BMSB)

The growing interest from Chinese investors in Malaysian properties has prompted Mah Sing Group to open a representative office in Shanghai to feature its residential and commercial properties. The office will serve as a business liaison between Mah Sing, local regulators and local companies in China to explore the property development industry in China. (BT)

Palm oil prices are expected to ease on the back of higher production as the effect of La Nina is anticipated to subside in the second-quarter of this year, a local broker said. (Malaysian Reserve)

Cost of vehicle ownership (CVO) in Malaysia is still among the most competitive in the Asean region due to the subsidised petrol prices, cheaper road tax and insurance premium. "Compared with Thailand and Indonesia, the CVO in Malaysia is lower by 39% and 12%, respectively," Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) chief executive officer Madani Sahari said. (BT)

IJM Corp Bhd is confident of securing three to four construction projects in the building of the new RM7.07bn West Coast Expressway (WCE) project, according to chief executive officer and managing director Datuk Teh Kean Ming. IJM currently holds 22.72% of Kumpulan Europlus Bhd which in turn holds a 64.2% controlling stake in West Coast Expressway Sdn Bhd. However, IJM may become a minority shareholder in the vehicle that will own the WCE concession. (Malaysia Reserve)

Malaysia's construction industry is expected to record RM90bn worth of projects for implementation this year, driven by government and private projects, according to the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB). Chief Executive Dauk Seri Judin Abdul Jarim said private financing initiatives and public-private partnerships were expected to account for the highest value of projects at RM32bn, followed by government projects (RM24bn), residential (RM13bn) and other private investments totalling RM19bn. (Starbiz)

Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd posted a marginal year-on-year increase in profit in 4QFY11 results, while its listed plantation arm, Hap Seng Plantations Holdings Bhd saw a slight decrease, according to announcements made to Bursa Malaysia yesterday. Hap Seng Plantations posted lower profit despite having registered a marginally higher revenue as a result of higher production cost. (Financial Daily)

Tune Group will ink a deal today with a Middle Eastern businessman in Qatar to extend its services to the Middle East. As part of the deal, Tune Group will set up hotels in the Middle East and offer Tune Talk and Tune Money services in the region, according to sources. The relationship would be expanded to cover other areas over time, one source said. (Starbiz)

Investing interest may return to smaller hard disk drive (HDD) component makers after recent earnings results from JCY International Bhd, as well as Western Digital Corp and Seagate Technology in the US topped analysts' expectations, implying a more positive outlook on the sector. The floods in Thailand which disrupted the global supply chain of HDDs have created an opportunity for the industry. From excess inventory and falling prices amid competition from existing players and the threat of solid-state drives, the HDD industry is now witnessing supply shortages. (Financial Daily)

China-based shoe manufacturer Xingquan International Sports Holdings Ltd's CEO Wu Qingquan believes the company can maintain its double-digit growth for FY12 ending June 30. From 2006 to 2011 the company had chalked up a compound annual growth rate of around 39% for both revenue and net profit. (Financial Daily)

The High Court has dismissed the applications for a judicial review of the enforcement actions taken against the former directors of Transmile Group by Bursa Malaysia. The High Court also ordered for costs to be paid by the former directors, namely Gan Boon Aun, Khiudin bin Mohd @ Bidin and Shukri bin Sheikh Abdul Tawab to Bursa. (Starbiz)

Dialog: 2Q earnings up 15.1% to RM41.45m with new biz, Asian ops
Dialog Group’s earnings rose 15.1% to 41.45m in  2Q FY2012 from RM35.99m a year ago, boosted by higher revenue from the consolidation of its new businesses and operations. Its revenue increased at a stronger pace of 33.5% to RM358.62m from RM268.53m. Its earnings per share were 2.10 sen compared with 1.84 sen.  It said that the consolidation of the revenue of the newly acquired fabrication and multi-disciplined engineering company, Fitzroy Engineering Group Ltd, based in New Zealand was the main contributor to this significant increase in revenue. Dialog added that contribution from Malaysia and Asian operations such as Brunei, Thailand, Oman and China, also increased significantly mainly due to higher revenue of specialist products and services recorded. In 1H FY 2012, its earnings grew 24.4% to RM85.99m from RM69.09m while its revenue increased 34% to RM713.85m from RM532.33m. (Financial Daily)

UEM Land: Set to explore new growth markets
Fresh from the consolidation of its operation after the purchase of Sunrise, the enlarged UEM Land now has a complete set of skills and expertise to scour for opportunities in new growth markets, both locally and overseas. UEM Land MD and CEO Datuk Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim said the acquisition of Sunrise last year had resulted in a full set of skills for the property group to move to its next level of growth by leaps and bounds. Although it still has much in its plate as far as landbank and projects in Malaysia are concerned, UEM Land has set its sight to venture to other regional markets such as India, Vietnam and Myanmar. Wan Abdullah said that they  are talking to a number of potential partners and will be sending their teams to India and Vietnam to explore the opportunities there. (Starbiz)

Construction: Jobs worth RM90bn seen in 2012
The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) said Malaysia's construction industry is expected to record RM90bn worth of projects this year driven by government and private projects. Chief executive Datuk Seri Ir Judin Abdul Karim said private financing initiatives and public-private partnerships are expected to contribute the highest value of projects at RM32bn, followed by government projects (RM24bn), residential projects (RM13bn) and other private investments (RM19bn). He added that the trend this year is expected to be in line with the trend for the previous 4  years where construction investment by the private sector averages about 65%. (Business Times)

Property: Johor property market may face oversupply in the longer term
With the spate of big-ticket projects being launched in and around Johor's Iskandar region, such as Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Bhd's RM80bn transformation of the coastline fronting Singapore, there are concerns that a glut could emerge in the state's property market down the line. Although an oversupply in the near term was unlikely, valuers and agents said it could materialise in a decade or later as the developments there would have a long gestation period. Johor Baru-based V. Sivadas, executive director of PA International Property Consultants Sdn Bhd, pointed out that a glut was imminent if buying interest from Singapore, which has thus far led demand, dried up. However, he noted that if the proposed high-speed rail between the two countries was fast-tracked, it could create an “instant demand” for Johor properties as the two highways linking Malaysia to the island state faced heavy congestion. (Starbiz)

Economy: Government wants to gather feedback on implementation of GST
The Government will hold series of roundtable discussions beginning middle of this year to gather more feedback and suggestions from relevant parties on the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai said among those involve in the discussions were the business community, chambers of commerce, non-governmental organisations, economists, tax experts and manufacturers. Asked whether the GST would be implemented after the general election, he declined to comment but said Malaysia had no choice but to introduce the tax scheme sooner or later. He said the government  need to get the consensus from the relevant parties and we are looking at achieving between 60% and 70% approval rate from them before implementing the scheme. (Starbiz)

20120215 0945 Global Economic Related News.

South Korea: Jobless rate rises to four-month high of 3.2%

South Korea’s unemployment rose to a four-month high last month as weakness in the global economy pared export demand. The jobless rate was 3.2%, Statistics Korea said. The Bank of Korea held off raising benchmark interest rates last week for an eighth month, the longest pause since tightening began in July 2010. External uncertainty, weak consumer and business sentiment, and high household debt are weighing on growth and downside risks are greater than upside risks, the central bank said. (Bloomberg)

Japan: Bank of Japan boosts easing with 1% goal for inflation
Japan’s central bank unexpectedly added JPY10trn (USD128bn) to an asset-purchase programme and set an inflation goal after an economic slide fueled criticism it has been slower to act than counterparts. An asset fund increased to JPY30trn, with a credit lending programme staying at JPY35trn, the Bank of Japan said. The BOJ also said that it will target 1% inflation “for the time being.” Stocks rose and the yen weakened against the dollar as the central bank expanded stimulus for the first time since October to revive an economy that shrank an annualized 2.3% last quarter. Lawmakers had urged extra efforts to counter deflation after the Federal Reserve adopted a 2% inflation target and the European Central Bank expanded its balance sheet. (Bloomberg)

Japan's industrial production rose 3.8% mom in Dec compared with an initial reading of 4%. The capacity utilisation index rose 3.1% mom in Dec to 89.4 (from an initial reading of -2.9%). (Reuters, Bloomberg)

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said China was ready to increase its participation in efforts to resolve Europe's debt crisis, after holding talks with EU leaders in Beijing. China was considering using Europe's bail-out funds to help address the continent's fiscal woes, Wen added, without elaborating further on how the Asian power might be prepared to contribute. (AFP)

China: Export gauges signal slower yuan gains
China’s exporters face an “extremely tough” first half of 2012, as weak demand and rising labour costs may lead the government to slow gains in the yuan. Chart of the Day shows the y-o-y percentage change in China’s monthly exports against a gauge of new export orders from the official monthly purchasing managers’ index. The measure of orders was less than 50, a reading that indicates contraction, for four straight months through January, the longest streak since the midst of the global economic crisis beginning in 2008. The lower panel tracks the nation’s trade balance and yuan-dollar rate, with the Chinese currency little changed this year (Bloomberg)

India’s wholesale price index rose 6.55% yoy in Jan (7.47% in Dec), broadly in line with the 6.6% average forecast. (Reuters)

The finance ministry cut its estimate of Indonesia’s GDP growth to a range of 6.5 to 6.6% from the forecast of 6.7% that it set in the state budget in Oct. (Jakarta Globe)

Thailand’s government revenue in Jan missed the target by THB4.8bn, coming in at THB126.39bn. The diesel-tax exemption contributed to the shortfall, since the government previously had planned to resume a THB5-per-litre rate last month. The Thai government will likely extend the de facto exemption of diesel from excise tax for another month

In Singapore, the median monthly household income rose from S$6,340 in 2010 to S$7,040 in 2011, an increase of 11%. After adjusting for inflation, the increase was 5.6%, double the 2.8% real growth in 2010. (ST)

Italian and Spanish borrowing costs plunged to the lowest in at least 11 months at debt sales as investors ignored downgrades by Moody’s Investors Service. Italy sold €6bn (US$7.9bn) of bonds, meeting its target as its three-year borrowing costs fell to 3.41%, the lowest since March, whilst Spain sold 12-month bills at an average rate of 1.899%, the least since Oct 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. (Bloomberg)

EU: Industrial output declines 1.1%, led by German slump

European industrial production declined in December led by a slump in Germany, adding to signs the region may have slipped into its second recession in three years. Production in the 17-nation euro area fell 1.1% from November, when it remained unchanged, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said. Production decreased 2% y-o-y. The region’s economy probably failed to grow in the fourth quarter as governments toughened austerity measures, undermining spending and hiring, just as global exports weakened. While industrial orders dropped in November and unemployment held at the highest in more than a decade in December, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on 9 Feb that he sees “tentative signs” of economic stabilization. (Bloomberg)

UK: Inflation drops to lowest since November 2010
British inflation dropped sharply in January as the effect of a rise in 2011 sales tax fell away, supporting the Bank of England (BoE) forecasts for a sharp easing of price pressures this year and providing some relief for cash-strapped consumers. The decline to 3.6% its lowest annual rate since Nov 2010 will reassure the BoE as it prepares to publish an update to its quarterly economic forecast today. (Financial Daily)

US: Obama aims USD1.4trn tax increase at highest earners
President Barack Obama called for USD1.4trn in fresh revenue from Americans at the top of the income scale, proposing higher taxes on wages and investments and limiting breaks for retirement savings and health insurance. The tax proposals in the administration’s fiscal 2013 budget plan, released yesterday, were immediately rejected by business groups and congressional Republicans, who said the ideas are part of Obama’s re-election strategy and gave them little chance of advancing into law in 2012. (Bloomberg)

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged Congress to do more to help the nation's ranks of unemployed, saying that the government has “an obligation to them” as "while the economy is gaining strength, we still face significant economic challenges.” He also said that the corporate tax reform plan will end "dozens and dozens" of tax breaks, as he defended the White House's election-year call for higher taxes on the wealthy. (AFP, Reuters)

US retail sales grew 0.4% mom in Jan (0.0% in Dec), less than economists’ forecast of a 0.8% gain. (Bloomberg)

20120215 0925 Global Market Related News.

Asian Stocks Rise as Greek Bailout Progress, Yen’s Slide Boost Optimism (Source: Bloomberg)
Asian stocks rose, trimming yesterday’s losses, as optimism Greece will commit to austerity measures and the yen’s drop to a three-month low against the dollar boosted the earnings outlook for Asian exporters. Sony Corp. (6758), Japan’s No. 1 exporter of consumer electronics that gets 21 percent of its revenue in Europe, rose 2.6 percent after the Bank of Japan boosted its asset purchase program yesterday, pushing down the yen. Hynix Semiconductor Inc. (000660), a maker of semiconductors gained 5.4 percent in Soul after the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index, which tracks the performance of 30 industry stocks, gained. Medipal Holdings Corp. (7459), advanced 5.4 percent in Tokyo after the maker of medical tools and equipment said it will spend as much as 10 billion yen to buy back as many as 11 million shares. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.6 percent to 125.72 as of 9:26 a.m. in Tokyo after falling 0.6 percent yesterday. Seven of the 10 industry groups on the measure advanced.
“Expectations are mounting that another bailout for Greece will be executed soon,” said Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager in Tokyo at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. “The yen is retreating and the world is moving toward more monetary easing as shown by the BOJ, supporting equities.”

Japanese Stocks Rise as Yen’s Slide Lifts Earnings Outlook for Exporters (Source: Bloomberg)
Japanese stocks rose, sending the Nikkei 225 (NKY) Stock Average toward a six-month high, as a falling yen boosted the earnings outlook for exporters and on optimism Greece will commit to austerity measures. The Nikkei 225 gained 0.9 percent to 9,128.92 as of 9:08 a.m. in Tokyo, heading for its highest close since Aug. 5. The broader Topix Index increased 0.9 percent to 793.57.

U.S. Stocks Pare Losses on Greece Optimism (Source: Bloomberg)
Most U.S. stocks retreated as an advance in the final half hour spurred by optimism that Greece will commit to budget cuts stopped short of erasing a decline in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Bank of America Corp. slid 3.3 percent as Citigroup Inc. cut its recommendation. Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) slumped 4.7 percent as talks on an Asia asset swap are said to have stalled. Masco (MAS) Corp. tumbled 12 percent after the home improvement and building products maker reported a wider-than-projected loss. Boeing Co. (BA) added 1 percent after signing a 230-aircraft order worth $22.4 billion, setting a record for the planemaker. The S&P 500 decreased 0.1 percent to 1,350.50 at 4 p.m. New York time, trimming an earlier decline of as much as 0.8 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 4.24 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 12,878.28 today. Almost two stocks declined for each that rose on U.S. exchanges.

European Stocks Decline as Moody’s Downgrades Italy, Spain; Shell Advances (Source: Bloomberg)
European (SXXP) stocks declined, paring the Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s biggest rally in a week, after Moody’s Investors Service downgraded six euro-area countries, including Italy, Spain and Portugal. ThyssenKrupp AG (TKA), Germany’s biggest steelmaker, fell 3.8 percent after posting a first-quarter loss following project delays. Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) gained 1.5 percent, limiting the Stoxx 600’s decline. Nokia Oyj (NOK1V), the biggest maker of mobile phones, rose 2.1 percent after Nokia Siemens Networks’ Chief Executive Officer, Rajeev Suri, was reported to say that he doesn’t rule out holding an initial public offering. The Stoxx 600 declined 0.2 percent to 262.56 at the close. The gauge rallied 0.7 percent yesterday and has still advanced 7.4 percent this year amid optimism that the euro area will contain its sovereign-debt crisis and as U.S. economic reports beat forecasts.

Yen extends drop as BOJ boosts asset buying
SINGAPORE, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The yen extended losses as the Bank of Japan eased monetary policy by expanding its asset buying scheme, but  analysts said the impact on the yen may prove short-lived.
"Short-term impact, yes is yen weakness. But I'm not sure that will be sustained," said Mitul Kotecha, head of global foreign exchange strategy for Credit Agricole in Hong Kong.

Multifamily Buildings to Lead U.S. Construction Gains: Economy (Source: Bloomberg)
Construction of multifamily units will lead the U.S. building industry again this year, allowing housing to contribute to growth for the first time in seven years, according to economists Michelle Meyer and Celia Chen. Work will begin on about 260,000 apartment buildings and townhouse developments in 2012, up 45 percent from last year and the most since 2008, according to Meyer, a senior economist at Bank of America Corp. in New York. Chen, an economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, is even more optimistic, projecting a record 74 percent jump to 310,000. Home ownership rates, which have declined to the lowest levels since 1998, may keep dropping as the foreclosure crisis turns more Americans into renters. In addition, household formation will probably accelerate as an improving economy and growing employment embolden more people to stop sharing residences and strike out on their own.

Obama Aims $1.4 Trillion Tax Increase at Highest U.S. Earners (Source: Bloomberg)
President Barack Obama called for $1.4 trillion in fresh revenue from Americans at the top of the income scale, proposing higher taxes on wages and investments and limiting breaks for retirement savings and health insurance. The tax proposals in the administration’s fiscal 2013 budget plan, released yesterday, were immediately rejected by business groups and congressional Republicans, who said the ideas are part of Obama’s re-election strategy and gave them little chance of advancing into law in 2012. “Whether this occurs in Congress this year or this is the tax platform for this year’s election, it’s disconcerting for businesses,” said Caroline Harris, chief tax counsel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business group.

Bernanke Labor Pessimism Seen Misplaced as U.S. Expands in 2012 (Source: Bloomberg)
In his six years as Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben S. Bernanke has sometimes proved too sanguine about the U.S. economy, declaring the impact of bad subprime mortgages on the financial markets “contained” in 2007 and being too optimistic about growth last year. Now that employment is accelerating, economists wonder if the central bank again will prove to be mistaken, this time by being pessimistic about the outlook. An improving job market, stepped-up U.S. bank lending and resurgent financial markets all could combine to boost demand. The jobless rate fell to the lowest level in three years in January, while consumer credit racked up its biggest two-month gain in a decade at the end of 2011. The stock market had its best January in 15 years, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index now up 6.8 percent since the start of 2012.
“The turn in the economy right now is very positive,” said Allen Sinai, president of Decision Economics Inc. in New York, who forecasts growth of 2.5 percent to 3 percent this year and a year-end jobless rate of 7.7 percent, compared with 8.3 percent last month. “We’re going to have a better year than a lot of people thought.”

U.S. Retail Sales Trail Estimates as Automobile Purchases Decline: Economy (Source: Bloomberg)
Sales at U.S. retailers rose less than forecast in January, reflecting an unexpected drop in purchases of automobiles. The 0.4 percent gain reported by the Commerce Department today in Washington was half the 0.8 percent rise median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Purchases excluding car dealers climbed 0.7 percent, more than projected and the biggest gain since March. Retailers like Target Corp. (TGT) and Limited Brands Inc. topped analysts’ sales forecasts last month, when many companies offered incentives to bring back shoppers after holiday sales stagnated. Further gains in employment are needed to bolster wages and underpin confidence, ensuring that demand can be sustained.

Japan Swings to Contraction as Yen Undermines Exports: Economy (Source: Bloomberg)
Japan’s economy shrank an annualized 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter, more than economists estimated, as slumping exports undermine a recovery from last year’s record earthquake. The contraction compared with the median forecast for a 1.3 percent decline in a Bloomberg News survey of 26 economists. Growth was a revised 7 percent in the previous quarter, the Cabinet Office said today in Tokyo. Today’s report underscores pressure on Bank of Japan officials meeting today and tomorrow to consider more monetary easing as gains in the yen worsen losses for companies from Sony Corp. (6758) to Panasonic Corp. (6752) At the same time, the world’s third- biggest economy may get a boost this quarter from more reconstruction work, fading disruptions from floods in Thailand, and signs of improvements in the U.S.

BOJ Unexpectedly Adds Stimulus as It Sets 1% Target for Inflation: Economy (Source: Bloomberg)
Japan’s central bank unexpectedly added 10 trillion yen ($128 billion) to an asset-purchase program and set an inflation goal after an economic slide fueled criticism it has been slower to act than counterparts. An asset fund increased to 30 trillion yen, with a credit lending program staying at 35 trillion yen, the Bank of Japan said in Tokyo today. The BOJ also said that it will target 1 percent inflation “for the time being.” Stocks rose and the yen weakened against the dollar as the central bank expanded stimulus for the first time since October to revive an economy that shrank an annualized 2.3 percent last quarter. Lawmakers had urged extra efforts to counter deflation after the Federal Reserve adopted a 2 percent inflation target and the European Central Bank expanded its balance sheet.

European Leaders ‘Confident’ Greece Meeting Bailout Demands (Source: Bloomberg)
Germany and the European Commission welcomed Greek approval of the austerity steps demanded for a financial lifeline, suggesting euro finance chiefs will pull Greece back from the brink when they meet in two days. The Greek parliament’s backing “is a crucial step forward toward the adoption of the second program,” EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn told reporters in Brussels today. “I’m confident that the other conditions, including for instance the identification of the concrete measures of 325 million euros ($430 million), will be completed by the next meeting” of finance ministers. Euro-area finance chiefs will convene in Brussels on Feb. 15 for their second extraordinary meeting on Greece in a week. Frustrated after two years of missed budget targets, ministers declined to ratify the 130 billion-euro package in a special session on Feb. 9, demanding that Greek officials put their verbal commitments into law.

European Banks Losing Trading Share to U.S. as Debt Crisis Erodes Revenue (Source: Bloomberg)
The biggest U.S. banks captured the highest share of global trading revenue in at least two years as their counterparts across the Atlantic reduced risk in the fourth quarter amid a worsening sovereign-debt crisis. U.S. banks’ share of the total reported by the nine largest investment banks rose to 66 percent from 56 percent a year earlier and 60 percent in the third quarter. The increase occurred as revenue from trading stocks, bonds and derivatives at the five U.S. banks -- JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) -- fell for the sixth time in the past seven quarters. Investment banks in Europe have been aggressive in shrinking risk-weighted assets and shutting units. Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) brought its trading risk down to the lowest since 2003, while Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group AG took a charge of 469 million Swiss francs ($512 million) to cut assets and exit some fixed- income trading businesses.

Greece Struggles to Win Aid Package (Source: Bloomberg)
European officials ratcheted up the pressure on the Greek government to deliver budget cuts in exchange for a second bailout as they insisted that default is not an option. Finance ministers canceled a Brussels meeting slated for today and will hold a teleconference instead to prod Greece to do more to clinch an aid package worth 130 billion euros ($170 billion) along with about 100 billion euros of debt relief from private bondholders. Greece needs the aid to make a 14.5 billion-euro bond payment on March 20. “The risk of a disorderly default has risen,” Thomas Costerg, a London-based economist at Standard Chartered Bank, said yesterday in an e-mail. “The timetable is already over- stretched to cover the March redemption and gives no room for maneuver or additional delay. The question remains whether we have reached the point of no return for Greece. I don’t think it’s the case yet, but we’re dangerously close to it.”

Schaeuble: Europe Better Prepared if Greece Defaults (Source: Bloomberg)
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Europe is better prepared for a Greek default than two years ago, jacking up pressure on Greece to hold to its pledges and find the savings needed to win a second bailout. Euro-area governments will decide “soon” on the new aid program, European Union Economic and Monetary Commissioner Olli Rehn said. Finance ministers are due to convene in Brussels tomorrow for their second extraordinary meeting in a week after telling Greek officials to identify additional cuts of 325 million euros ($428 million). The measures are among conditions that must be met by tomorrow for Greece to secure a 130 billion- euro rescue needed to avert financial collapse.
“We want to do everything to help Greece master this crisis,” Schaeuble said in an interview with ZDF television late yesterday. “What we’re experiencing at the moment is much less bad than what may happen to Greece if the attempts to keep Greece in the euro zone failed.” Yet if everything fails, “we’re better prepared than two years ago,” he said.

Australian December Home Loans Jump by Most in Seven Months (Source: Bloomberg)
Australian home-loan approvals jumped in December by the most in seven months and exceeded economists’ forecasts as buyers responded to central bank interest-rate reductions. The number of loans granted to build or buy houses and apartments increased 2.3 percent to 48,453, the highest in almost two years, from a revised November increase of 1.8 percent, the statistics bureau in Sydney today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 20 economists was for a 1.8 percent gain in approvals. Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens lowered borrowing costs in November and December to 4.25 percent to buttress the housing market, support employment and boost confidence among consumers who are saving more. The RBA unexpectedly held its benchmark last week as signs mount that Europe is beginning to contain its sovereign-debt crisis and the U.S. recovery is gaining strength.

20120215 0924 Soy Oil & Palm Oil Related News.

ITS CPO export down 14% to 509,107 tonnes for the period of 1~15 Feb 2012.
SGS CPO export down 14.2% to 494,298 tonnes for the period of 1~15 Feb 2012.

Soybeans (Source: CME)
US soybean futures end mostly higher, with old crop contracts rallying to nearly four-month highs. Soybean futures rose for the third consecutive trading day, fueled by worries about hot, dry conditions in southern Brazil leading to lower crop yields, analysts say. Smaller South American crops seen boosting importers interest in securing US soy exports. Strong export demand added to the positive theme, with USDA reporting new sales to unknown destinations today. However, new crop futures drifted lower after gaining sharply against corn recently, as traders viewed the rise in prices adequately reflected a level that will limit additional acreage losses. CBOT March soybeans ended up 3c to $12.55/bushel; Nov soybeans dropped 1 1/2c to $12.57 1/2.

Soybean Meal/Oil (Source: CME)
Soy product futures drift lower, succumbing to profit-taking after yesterday's sharp gains. Strength in the US dollar produced general weakness in commodities, with slower demand limiting the products ability to continue climbing with soybeans, analysts say. CBOT March soymeal ended down $0.40 at $330.10/short ton, and March soyoil ended down 0.03c to 53.02c/lb.

Palm oil hits 3-wk high on S. America weather fears
SINGAPORE, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Malaysian crude palm oil futures rose to a near three-week high tracking a rally in U.S. soybeans to four-month highs on investor concern that hot, dry weather in South America could hurt production.
"External factors are still uncertain and we will have to look at export numbers to see if the market will breach 3,200 ringgit," said a trader with a foreign commodities brokerage in Kuala Lumpur, referring to Malaysian export data for Feb. 1-15 which will be released on Wednesday.

20120215 0924 Global Commodities Related News.

China Ministry: Key Food Prices Fell Last Week For 2nd Week (Source: CME)
Meat and vegetable prices mostly fell in the week to Sunday, the Ministry of Commerce said. The country's food price movements are an indicator of inflationary pressures, as food accounts for about a third of China's consumer price index. Vegetable prices fell 4.8% compared with the preceding week, posting a second straight week of declines after 10 consecutive weeks of increases, the ministry said in a statement. Prices of pork, a bellwether inflation indicator, fell 1.9% in the period, also a second straight week lower, after three weeks of increases. Mutton prices fell 0.2%, while beef rose 0.4%. Chicken prices were unchanged, while edible oil prices were stable to slightly higher, it said.

Corn (Source: CME)
US corn futures end lower, pressured by investors taking profits amid the absence of fresh supportive news, along with a firmer US dollar and outlooks for 2012 US corn acreage to climb to post-World War II highs. That is seen resulting in inventories nearly doubling next year. CBOT March corn ended down 6c at $6.33 1/2 a bushel.

Wheat (Source: CME)
US wheat futures settled lower, backpedaling as traders took profits off the table. Strength in the US dollar spread general weakness in grain futures, with record Australian wheat crop estimates applying fundamental pressure and additional selling, analysts say. The large Australian crops add to already stout world supplies, with USDA last week estimating end-of-year world inventories will reach record levels, analysts say. CBOT March wheat ended down 6 1/4c at $6.35/bushel; March KCBT wheat ended down 7 3/4c to $6.75 1/2; March MGEX wheat dropped 3 1/2c to $8.12.

Rice (Source: CME)
US rice futures rallied on new speculative buying tied to optimism a Chinese delegation could look to purchase US rice on a visit this week. Meanwhile, dry weather in Texas is a big issue for the coming year as water might not be available for irrigation there, said Jack Scoville with Price Futures Group. Added support was fueled from futures prices for next year remaining low in the US, enticing many farmers to consider planting other crops such as corn or soybeans due to lower costs and higher returns, Scoville added. CBOT March rice ended up 25c to $14.38 1/2/hundredweight.

Wheat Shipments From Australia Seen at Record as Harvest Gains on Weather (Source: Bloomberg)
Wheat exports from Australia, set to be the world’s second-biggest shipper, may advance to a record this year as the harvest climbs to an all-time high after favorable weather, according to the government forecaster. Shipments (AUITWHET) may total 22.3 million metric tons in the year to Sept. 30, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics and Sciences said today. That’s 3.2 percent more than forecast on Dec. 6 and 20 percent higher than a year earlier. Production may total 29.5 million tons, 4.3 percent more than previously estimated and beating last year’s record crop of 27.9 million tons, the bureau said in a report. Increased shipments from Australia will add to record worldwide supply and may help to extend the grain’s 29 percent slump in the past year, easing global food costs. Wheat may underperform corn and soybeans, Morgan Stanley said in a report yesterday, citing “flush supplies” from Australia and Europe.

Wheat dips on Australia's output forecast, soy steady
SINGAPORE, Feb 14 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat slid around half a percent , falling for a fifth time in six sessions, as forecasts of crop-friendly weather in the U.S. Plains and Australia's estimate of a record large harvest weighed on the market.
"It is a massive output. Australia will be competing in the world market through the end of the year even when the other origins come in," said Adam Davis, a senior commodity analyst at Merricks Capital in Melbourne, referring to Australia's wheat production forecast.

Australia lifts winter wheat crop f'cst to record 29.5 mln T
SYDNEY, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Australia on Tuesday lifted its forecast for wheat production this year by 4.2 percent to a record 29.5 million tonnes from 28.3 million previously, saying key growing regions completed harvesting before the onset of heavy rains.
U.S. wheat recoiled around half a percent on Tuesday with forecasts of crop-friendly weather in the U.S. Plains and  Australia's revision weighing on the market.

US farm income to drop 11.5 pct in 2012-USDA
WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Farm income will drop sharply from 2011's record high as production costs rise by more than $10 billion for the second year in a row, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Monday in its first income forecast for this year.
USDA estimated net cash farm income, a measure of solvency, at $96.3 billion, down 11.5 percent from 2011, when it topped $100 billion for the first time. USDA said it was the smallest decline since 2000 for the volatile income figure and that net cash farm income would be far above the 10-year average.

China to quadruple corn imports from the US
WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - China, the world's largest importer of cotton and soybeans, will quadruple its purchases of corn in the coming decade to fatten more livestock, the U.S. Agriculture Department projected on Monday.
In a 10-year outlook, USDA said Chinese soybean imports would rise by 59 percent, to 90 million tonnes, by 2021. A quarter of the U.S. soybean crop goes to China, the No 1 customer for U.S. farm exports.

USDA sees US corn stocks double next year
Feb 13 (Reuters) - A U.S. government report on Monday showed farmers in the United States will plant the largest area with corn this spring since World War Two, which could double the razer-thin stocks of this year and help defray costs to consumers and food companies.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's baseline projections -- the first of a series of estimates that will help shape prices across the globe -- pegged corn acres at 94 million, the most since 1944 and near trade expectations for 94.2 million.

USDA projects US 2012 wheat sowings 56.5 mln acres
WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat growers will plant 56.5 million acres of wheat this year and reap a crop of 2.12 billion bushels, the U.S. Agriculture Department projected on Monday.
The projections were based on conditions in late 2011 and will be updated at USDA's annual Outlook Forum Feb 23-24.

India Leapfrogs Competitors To Gain No. 1 Rice Exporter Status -Executives (Source: CME)
India has surpassed Thailand and Vietnam to become the world's top rice exporter since resuming shipments of non-Basmati grades of the grain after a ban lasting more than three years, trading executives, shipping agents and cargo surveyors said. Though the figures are preliminary, it is clear that India's rice exports are sharply rising at the expense of Thailand and Vietnam because it is cheaper and more readily available, marking a significant shift in global trading and helping to keep inflation in check in importing nations. India exported at least 2.7 million metric tons of rice from October through January, the market participants said. Thailand and Vietnam exported 2.0 million and 1.5 million tons, respectively, during the four-month period, according to industry estimates.
For each of the last four months, India consistently exported between 650,000 and 700,000 tons, industry officials said, though some put it even higher, pointing to monthly container shipments, which are harder to track, of between 80,000 tons and 300,000 tons. Thailand exported less than 400,000 tons of rice in January, comprising mostly fragrant Jasmine rice, said Chookiat Ophaswongse, managing director of major Thai exporter Huay Chuan Rice Co. Thailand had been exporting more than a million tons of rice a month in the first half of 2011. "India has virtually captured the parboiled rice market from Thailand due to its lower prices," Thai Rice Exporters Association President Korbsook Iamsuri said recently, adding that Thailand's monthly shipments have fallen by more than 75%, to less than 100,000 tons. Vietnam's rice exports fell to below 300,000 tons in January compared with a monthly average of almost 600,000 tons in 2011.
"We are aware of the Indian competition and have scaled down prices, but demand is still slow and Vietnam doesn't produce parboiled grades," said a trader in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam has reduced its rice prices by around $150 a ton in recent months to attract buyers. Vietnam is now offering its 5%- and 25%-broken grades of white rice around $445/ton and $410/ton, respectively, on a free-on-board basis, but Indian offers are still $5-$10/ton cheaper. Thai offers are well above $500/ton, and the government has purchased more than 5.0 million tons of unmilled rice at artificially high prices since early October, to fulfill a pre-election promise to farmers. India can easily export around 600,000 tons of rice a month because of its competitive rates, though shipments may slow down due to rains in the third quarter, Sri Lal Mahal Ltd. Managing Director Prem Garg said. During the ban on non-Basmati grades, India exported around 200,000 tons a month of the premium, long-grained variety.
The country last ranked as the world's top rice exporter in August 2007, when it shipped 648,662 tons, according to figures from the International Grains Council.

Thai 2011 sugar exports hit record 6.68 mln tonnes
BANGKOK, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Thailand, the world's second-biggest sugar exporter, shipped a record 6.68 million tonnes of the sweetener in 2011, up 51 percent from the previous year, due to a bumper crop and strong demand, a senior official said on Tuesday.
"Luckily, we had plenty of sugar last year and I expect that our exports could hit a record again in 2012 because demand remains strong," Prasert Tapaneeyangkul, secretary-general of the Office of Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB), told Reuters.

Indonesia plans 240,000 T raw sugar imports in 2012
JAKARTA, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Indonesia plans to import 240,000 tonnes of raw sugar this year to make up for a white sugar shortage before the domestic milling season in May, the agriculture minister said on Tuesday.
"We need additional white sugar supply in 2012 for one month worth of consumption," said Suswono. "We will not import white sugar, but raw sugar as we still have idle capacity locally at sugar mills."

Vietnam Feb coffee loading to rise as prices jump-trade
HANOI, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Vietnam's coffee export loading in February is expected to rise to between 120,000-150,000 tonnes, or 2 million to 2.5 million 60-kg bags, as exporters cash in on price gains, traders said on Tuesday.
Vietnamese farmers slowed sales even during their harvest peak late last year, and thinning supply from the world's second-largest producer after Brazil has contributed to higher London robusta futures prices.

India cuts coffee output forecast by 0.7 pct
Feb 14 (Reuters) - State-run Coffee Board has cut India's coffee output forecast to 320,000 tonnes for the crop year to September, down 0.7 percent from an earlier projection, which could further dent exports.
The board said output from the southern states of Karnataka and Kerala, which together contribute about 90 percent of the country's coffee production, would likely be lower than expected.

Ivorian cocoa arrivals down 4 pct - exporters
ABIDJAN, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Cocoa arrivals at ports in top grower Ivory Coast as of Feb 12 were down nearly four percent at around 917,000 tonnes versus 955,030 tonnes for the same period a year earlier, exporters estimates showed on Monday.
Exporters said that around 20,000 tonnes of beans were delivered to the West African state's two ports between Feb 6 and Feb 12, down from 50,349 tonnes in the same week a year ago.

Early rains brings relief to Cameroon cocoa farmers
YAOUNDE, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Farmers in Cameroon's main cocoa growing regions said on Monday that abundant rains in the past week have raised hopes of a better mid-crop harvest after a long dry spell coupled with pests attacks that threatened crop output.
Farmers in the Centre and South West regions of the world's fifth largest producer said the rains have enabled flowers to grow on trees and blossom, signalling a potential bumper crop.

Brent slips on Europe woes; above $117 as Iran supports
SINGAPORE, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Brent crude futures slipped, weighed down by demand growth concerns in Europe after ratings agency Moody's downgraded six countries in the region, but prices held above $117 per barrel on fears of a supply disruption.
"At a time when the oil market has had rallies for several weeks, it's probably a little bit of short-term nervousness of being caught on the wrong side," said Ric Spooner, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets, referring to a sell-off by traders
after the Moody's downgrade.

US oil demand to be sluggish for years: Lee Raymond
OSLO, Feb 10 (Reuters) - The United States may be living through 10 years of sluggish growth that does little to boost domestic oil demand in the short term, the former head of oil supermajor ExxonMobil  told Reuters.
Lee Raymond, 73, is renowned in the industry as the chief executive and chairman of Exxon from 1993 to 2005, including after its merger with Mobil in 1999 to form the world's largest listed oil company. The South Dakota native is today a director of bank JPMorgan Chase , among other positions.

Oil Trades Near Two-Day Low on Gain in U.S. Stockpiles, Greek Aid Delay (Source: Bloomberg)
Oil traded near a two-day low in New York as investors speculated that fuel demand may falter amid rising U.S. crude stockpiles and delays in approving a bailout package for Greece. Futures were little changed after falling 0.2 percent yesterday. U.S. inventories climbed 2.9 million barrels last week, the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute said after the settlement. An Energy Department report today is forecast to show a gain of 1.5 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg News survey of analysts. European Finance ministers canceled a meeting to agree on a second aid package for Greece, citing a lack of political assurances on an austerity pledge. Oil for March delivery was at $100.90 a barrel, up 16 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 10:54 a.m. Sydney time. It slid 17 cents to $100.74 yesterday, the lowest close since Feb. 10. Prices are 20 percent higher the past year.