Friday, March 16, 2012

20120316 1819 FCPO EOD Daily Chart Study.

FCPO closed : 3398, changed : +1 points, volume : higher.
Bollinger band reading : pullback correction upside biased.
MACD Histrogram : turned downward, buyer lock in profit.
Support : 3350, 3300, 3270, 3250 level.
Resistance : 3420, 3450, 3470, 3500 level.
Comment :
FCPO closed 1 tick higher with better volume exchanged. Soy oil price currently trading lower after overnight closed rallied higher while crude oil price currently registering gain moving range bound.
Price retreated lower after hitting 9 months high as traders decided to lock in profit reducing exposure after recent rallies and ahead of the weekend.
Chart study adjusted 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 resistant or strength with quick cut loss and profit target.

20120316 1749 FKLI EOD Daily Chart Study.

FKLI closed : 1576 changed : -6 points, volume : lower.
Bollinger band reading : correction range bound upside biased.
MACD Histrogram : resume falling, buyer seller battling.
Support : 1570, 1565, 1550, 1540 level.
Resistance : 1580, 1590, 1600, 1610 level.
Comment :
FKLI closed recorded loss with decreasing volume transacted doing 4.5 points premium compare to cash market that closed lower. Overnight U.S. markets continue to closed firmer and today Asia markets traded mixed while European markets also trading indecisively.
Global market traded mixed after U.S. reported better consumer confidence and lower unemployment data with slowing China and India economy growth development.
Technical reading revised to calling a correction range bound upside biased market development testing support near middle Bollinger band level.
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.

20120316 1728 Regional Markets EOD Daily Chart Study.

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

20120316 1544 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

Shares consolidate, dollar faces profit taking
TOKYO, March 16 (Reuters) - Asian shares edged higher while the dollar took a breather as its recent broad rally spurred some profit taking, with a fresh batch of encouraging U.S. economic data further underpinning investor sentiment.
"The market is still going through a relief rally more than chasing a new trend on global growth," Barclays Capital analysts said.

US soy at 6-month top, China's corn hits record-high
SINGAPORE, March 16 (Reuters) - Chicago soybeans climbed to a six-month top, rising for a fourth straight session with support from better-than-expected U.S. exports on strong Chinese demand and lower supplies from drought-hit South America.
"Soybeans have firmed as China has been importing quite a lot and there have been some concerns that demand for soybeans could switch acreage from corn," said Lynette Tan, an analyst with Phillip Futures in Singapore.

Brazil new CS sugar output seen up 9 pct - Datagro
SAO PAULO, March 15 (Reuters) - Sugar output from Brazil's new 2012/13 center-south cane crop  was forecast at 33.88 million tonnes, up 9 percent from 31.2 million tonnes in the current crop, crop analysts Datagro said on Thursday in their first estimate of the upcoming harvest.
Datagro President Plinio Nastari said Brazil's main growing region will produce 518.3 million tonnes of cane this coming April-March season, up from the 493 million tonnes crushed from this season's drought-hit center-south crop.
Warm U.S. winter could spur corn, tree-killing beetles
WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) - As much of the United States basks in summer-like temperatures, weather and climate experts said this year's warm winter could mean early corn planting, a risk of killing frost for apricots and a baby boom for tree-chomping bark beetles in the West. The winter of 2011-12 was the fourth-warmest in the 117-year record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which uses meteorological winter, which ended on Feb. 29.
Canada farm dept bumps up canola area, trims wheat
March 15 (Reuters) - Canada's agriculture department slightly raised its forecast for 2012/13 canola plantings, while trimming its wheat estimate on Thursday.
Dry conditions heading into planting season are expected to boost plantings of most major crops, after flooding wiped out millions of acres last year. Canola prices have recently spiked to a six-month high, offering attractive returns to farmers.
Argentina slowly starts to harvest drought-hit soy
BUENOS AIRES, March 15 (Reuters) - Argentine farmers have started harvesting soybeans but heavy rains that arrived after months of drought have slowed efforts to gather the parched crops, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said on Thursday.
Downpours have been bogging down harvesting machines as they try to move across fields in the Pampas farm belt that were bone dry only two months ago during the dog days of the Southern Hemisphere summer.
Wheat yield, export at risk in Russia South-analyst
MOSCOW, March 15 (Reuters) - Poor autumn and winter crop conditions in Russia's key southern wheat export regions have threatened yields and could reduce Russia's export potential in the coming crop year, a top Russian grain analyst said on Thursday.
Unusually warm temperatures in December and early January gave way to a fierce cold snap which hit crops in Russia's southern breadbasket, parts of which lacked snow to protect the green shoots. Poor germination was also reported in some areas.
Rwanda sees coffee harvest up 50 pct in 2012
KIGALI, March 15 (Reuters) - Rwanda's coffee output could rise by 50 percent this year due to a bumper harvest after good rains late last year, and the small but fertile central African country is eyeing newer outlets for its high quality, speciality coffee.
Rwanda, a much smaller producer compared to its neighbour and Africa's top exporter Uganda, grows high quality, Arabica coffee beans much of which is exported mainly to the United States, Europe, Japan and South Korea.

Brent crude rebounds above $123 on Iran-West tensions
SINGAPORE, March 16 (Reuters) - Brent crude rebounded above $123 after a sharp sell off the previous session, as rising tensions between Iran and the West fuelled an oil rally that has forced Western leaders to prepare a release of their strategic oil reserves.
"We think that prices probably will continue to grind higher as we get closer to the sanctions deadline," said Jeremy Friesen, commodity strategist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong.

Releasing oil reserves "worth looking at" -Cameron
NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday a possible release of strategic oil reserves to tame soaring fuel prices is "worth looking at," but that no decision had been made after the discussions he had with U.S. President Barack Obama.
"Short term, should we look at reserves? Yes, we should," he said in New York after meeting with top Wall Street financial executives following meetings in Washington with Obama and other senior officials.

LME copper slips; U.S. data supports
SINGAPORE, March 16 (Reuters) - London copper futures slipped after a more than one percent rise in the previous session, although an improved U.S. economic outlook kept prices supported near the top of this week's trading range.
"The sentiment in London remains strong, while Shanghai is less so as domestic investors are concerned about the weak performance in the stock market and the high copper stocks that will take a while to digest," said Zhou Jie, an analyst at China CIFCO Futures.

Freeport cuts copper, gold outlooks after strike
March 15 (Reuters) - Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc  lowered its copper and gold sales outlooks for the first quarter following labor-related problems at its Grasberg mine in Indonesia and said the mine would not return to full production until the second quarter.
The U.S. company said on Thursday that operations at the mine and associated mill had resumed after a temporary work stoppage on Feb. 23 and a three-month strike last year.

Britain aims to boost precious metal recycling
LONDON, March 16 (Reuters) -    The British government said on Friday it would give local businesses money to find new ways to reuse or recycle precious metals to make them more resilient to fluctuations in supply and price of raw materials.
Laptops, mobile phones, vehicle catalysts contain precious metals such as gold, platinum and palladium, along with rarer metals such as indium or gallium.

Tight supply to push copper over $9,000/T this yr-CESCO
LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - The copper industry is likely to experience years of supply uncertainty as growing resource nationalism threatens production, potentially pushing prices to above $9,000 this year, Chile's Centre for Copper and Mining Studies CESCO said.
CESCO's executive director Juan Carlos Guajardo told Reuters he expected a 200,000 tonne deficit this year as supply falls short of demand particularly from top consumer China, adding the mining industry needed coordinated action to ensure future supplies.

Rio halts iron ore port operations as cyclone nears
SYDNEY, March 16 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto  said on Friday it was in the process of suspending iron ore port operations in Australia as a tropical cyclone bears down on the Western Australia coast.
Operations at two ports used by Rio Tinto -- Dampier and Cape Lambert -- were winding down, while mining and its rail hauling line remained open, said a spokesman for Rio Tinto, the world's second-largest iron ore producer.

Australian iron ore port shuts as cyclone threatens coast
SYDNEY, March 16 (Reuters) - Australia's Port Hedland iron ore terminal closed on Friday as the last ship left the port to escape the brunt of Cyclone Lua, which was intensifying and expected to sweep across the vast Pilbara iron ore mining belt early on Saturday.
Port operators began closing the iron ore export terminals late Thursday and residents in areas most likely to be hit by the category three cyclone have been warned to store up on emergency supplies, said the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Vietnam to test-run first alumina plant in early Q2-report
HANOI, March 16 (Reuters) - Vietnam will test-run the country's first alumina plant early in the second quarter starting in April, before moving to full production, a state-run newspaper said on Friday, indicating a slight delay in the project.
Up to 99 percent of work has now been completed at the Tan Rai plant owned by the National Coal and Mineral Industries Group(Vinacomin), the ruling Vietnam Communist Party-run Nhan Dan (People) daily said, quoting Vinacomin.

Gold extends gains, but heads for third week of losses
SINGAPORE, March 16 (Reuters) - Gold extended gains as the euro rebounded against the dollar, but the precious metal was heading for its third straight week of losses as a brightening economic outlook in the United States prompted investors to park their money elsewhere.
"There's little need for a safe haven at the moment," said Lynette Tan, an analyst with Phillip Futures in Singapore. "Going forward, we could see gold maintain at this level, or even fall to about $1,620. I think gold will be sidelined at the moment compared to the other risk assets."

METALS-LME copper slips; U.S. data supports
SINGAPORE, March 16 (Reuters) - London copper futures slipped on Friday after a more than one percent rise in the previous session, although an improved U.S. economic outlook kept prices supported near the top of this week's trading range.
Optimism stemming from data showing new jobless claims in the world's largest economy fell to a four-year low last week and a pick up in manufacturing activity in the Northeast this month drove the S&P 500 to its highest since the 2008 financial crisis, and pushed copper up on Thursday.

PRECIOUS-Gold extends gains, but heads for third week of losses
SINGAPORE, March 16 (Reuters) - Gold extended gains on Friday as the euro rebounded against the dollar, but the precious metal was heading for its third straight week of losses as a brightening economic outlook in the United States prompted investors to park their money elsewhere.
Although the U.S. dollar took a breather after a rally, the uptrend was seen unbroken after the Federal Reserve offered no clues whether it plans to buy any more major assets to keep interest rates and borrowing costs low -- a move which would lift bullion's safe-haven appeal.  

FOREX-Dollar hits speed bumps as profit-takers scoop up gains
SYDNEY/TOKYO, March 16 (Reuters) - The rally in the dollar took a bit of a breather on Friday as traders booked profits on recent chunky gains ahead of key resistance levels, but the greenback's uptrend was seen intact  in line with a brightening U.S. economic outlook.
The dollar stood at 83.37 yen , having retreated from an 11-month peak of 84.19. Traders said some selling kicked in after the pair gained 1.2 percent this week and as it approached the 2011 high of 85.53.

Baltic index rises as smaller vessels firm
March 15 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks rates to ship dry commodities, rose on Thursday as rates for smaller vessels offset weakness in the capesize market.
The overall index, a gauge of the cost of shipping commodities such as iron ore, cement, grain, coal and fertiliser, rose 11 points or 1.29 percent to 866 points.

20120316 1145 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

COMMODITY-Oil down on stockpile news, other commods up
NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - Oil prices fell for a second day in a row on Thursday, hit by news of a possible release in U.S. and British strategic oil reserves, while most other commodities rose due to a weaker dollar.
"It all depends on how much they are going to release," said analyst Chris Dillman at Tradition Energy in Connecticut.

GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares consolidate, dollar faces profit taking
TOKYO, March 16 (Reuters) - Asian shares steadied on Friday and the dollar took a breather after its recent broad rally spurred some profit taking, but a fresh batch of data suggesting the U.S. economy may be picking up momentum underpinned investor sentiment.
"The market is still going through a relief rally more than chasing a new trend on global growth," Barclays Capital analysts said. "We are getting into profit-taking territory," they added.

Obama nears dropping IEA fig leaf for oil release
--Robert Campbell is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own--
NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama, itching to pull the trigger on a fresh release from the strategic oil reserves to quell surging fuel prices, is getting closer to plunging into the market without backup from other Western nations.
Opposition to a fresh use of strategic oil stocks has come from European members of the International Energy Agency, threatening to slow any stock release.

OIL-Oil falls as US, UK plan oil reserve release
NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - Crude prices fell by $2 a barrel on Thursday after Reuters reported that the United States and Britain were preparing a release from strategic oil reserves this year.
"It all depends on how much they are going to release," said analyst Chris Dillman at Tradition Energy in Connecticut.

NATURAL GAS-Front month US natgas slips for second day
NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - Front month U.S. natural gas futures ended lower for a second straight day on Thursday on continuing concerns over a mild winter and inventories that remain bloated despite a weekly storage draw that came in above expectations.  
"Today's ever-so-slightly-more-than-expected storage withdrawal does nothing whatsoever to alter existing fundamentals. That said, natural gas is grappling with technical support, the forward curve seemingly more supported than the front, from a growing question mark on the potential for future production and drilling cuts," said Jay Levine, broker with enerjay, LLC in Portland, Maine.

EURO COAL-Prices steady, S.Korea buys Colombian
LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - Prompt physical coal prices held steady on Thursday but could see fresh falls as unsold U.S. and Colombian coal weighs on the European market.
China has been forecast to import around the same tonnage this year as last year, more than enough to tip the supply/demand balance, traders said.

Colombia oil industry pushes back on tax hikes
BOGOTA, March 15 (Reuters) - Leaders of Colombia's oil industry on Thursday urged the government to keep tax rates stable for the sector amid growing insistence by politicians that energy firms pay a greater share of their earnings to the Andean nation.
A group of legislators want President Juan Manuel Santos's upcoming tax overhaul proposal to include royalty and tax hikes on the oil industry, which is one of the fastest-growing in the region thanks to improved security under a U.S.-backed military crackdown on Marxist rebels.

U.S., UK set to agree emergency oil stocks release
LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - Britain is poised to cooperate with the United States on a release of strategic oil stocks that is expected within months, two British sources said, in a bid to prevent fuel prices choking economic growth in a U.S. election year.  
A formal request from the United States to the UK to join forces in a release of oil from government-controlled reserves is expected "shortly" following a meeting on Wednesday in Washington between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron, who discussed the issue, one source said.

20120316 1014 Local & Global Market Related News.

Economy: RM113bn private investment target this year attainable, says Mustapa
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the target of  RM113bn private investment for 2012 was attainable based on the new projects approved  under the Entry Point Projects (EPPs) and the good progress made so far under the Economic  Transformation Programme (ETP). He said last  year, private investments totaled RM94bn adding that under the 10th Malaysia Plan, the target for private investments is RM115bn a  year. Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala said none  of the investors had indicated that they would be cancelling their projects based on what  was happening at the global stage. He said as the economy is largely domestic demanddriven, it is less exposed to the vagaries of the global economy. (Bernama)

The world shortage of natural rubber will deepen this year as the economy improves in China and India, the biggest buyers, and car sales expand, according to the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC). “The trend is promising on signs of a strong recovery in demand,” said Jom Jacob, a senior economist. Demand may continue to outstrip supply next year as the global economy recovers, he said. The shortage may extend a 28% advance in Tokyo futures this year, potentially increasing costs for companies using rubber as a raw material. “Demand is going up as car sales increase,” said Masayo Kondo, president of Commodity Intelligence Ltd. in Tokyo. Prices may climb by 19% to ¥400/kg (US$4,761/mt) in the next two months, he said. The deficit may more than triple to 186k mt this year from a previous estimate of 51k mt as China and India shift their policy from fighting inflation to boosting growth, and the economies in the U.S. and Japan improve, Jacob said. Supplies exceeded demand by 153k mt last year, he added. (Bloomberg, ANRPC)

Stocks Advance on Economic Data; Treasuries Trim Decline (Bloomberg)
U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index above 1,400 for the first time since 2008, as reports on manufacturing and jobless claims bolstered optimism in the economy. Treasuries trimmed losses. The S&P 500 climbed 0.6 percent to close at 1,402.6 at 4 p.m. in New York and the Dow Jones Industrial Average  gained 58.66 points to 13,252.76, its highest close since December 2007. The 10-year Treasury yield added one basis point to 2.28 percent after gaining as much as eight basis points. Crude pared losses as an Obama official denied a report the U.S. and U.K. planned to release oil from strategic reserves.

US producer prices rose 0.4% mom in Feb (0.1% in Jan), coming short of the consensus 0.5% growth, whilst core producer prices moderated to 0.2% mom from 0.4% in Jan, matching consensus expectations. (Bloomberg)

The US Empire State manufacturing survey’s general business conditions index rose to 20.21 in Mar (19.53 in Feb), surpassing expectations of a rise to 17.50. (Bloomberg)

Foreign demand for long-term US securities rose to US$101.0bn in Jan as opposed to a revised US$19.1bn previously. (Bloomberg)

Jobless Claims in U.S. Decrease, Matching Four-Year Low (Bloomberg)
Claims for jobless benefits dropped last week in the U.S., matching the lowest level in four years, more evidence the labor market is improving. Applications for unemployment insurance payments fell by 14,000 to 351,000 in the week ended March 10, Labor Department figures showed. Economists forecast 357,000, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. Claims reached the same level a month ago, the lowest since March 2008.

Consumer Confidence in U.S. Rose Last Week to Four-Year High (Bloomberg)
Consumer confidence rose last week to the highest level in four years as job gains put more Americans in the mood to spend. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index climbed to minus 33.7 in the period to March 11, the strongest since March 2008, from minus 36.7 the previous week. A buying-climate gauge reached the highest level since November 2007, and a measure of the state of the economy had its best showing since September 2008.

China Adds Treasuries For First Time Since July on Europe Woes (Bloomberg)
China, the largest foreign U.S. creditor, increased its holdings of U.S. government securities in January for the first time in six months as European leaders struggled to contain the region’s sovereign-debt crisis. Holdings rose by 0.7 percent to $1.16 trillion, the first growth in China’s stake since July, Treasury data released yesterday show. The report also showed that net foreign purchases of Treasuries totaled almost $83 billion in January, compared with net selling of $14.9 billion the month before.

FDI in China fell in Feb by 0.9% yoy to US$7.73bn (US$10bn in Jan), the fourth successive month of decline on account of weak Western sentiment. In the first two months of the year alone, inward investment fell 0.56% yoy to US$17.72bn. (AFP)

China is relaxing enforcement of its loan-to-deposit ratios (LDR) for banks after two straight months of flagging loan growth, the local media reported, adding that the China Banking Regulatory Commission has raised the target LDR for two major state banks to spur lending. (Reuters)

China will not slacken its efforts in regulating housing prices, since they are still far from falling back to a reasonable level, Premier Wen Jiabao said. (People's Daily)

New home sales in Singapore surged to 2,413 units in Feb, well up from the about 1,800 units sold in Jan. (ST)

Singapore’s retail sales grew 1.7% mom in Jan, surprising analysts’ expectations of a decline of 1.5% mom. (ST)

Wages in Singapore went up by 6% in 2011 but struggled to keep pace with inflation, which reached 5.5% in Dec 2011. Real wages inched up by 0.7% in 2011, less than the 2.7% rise in 2010. Productivity grew by just 1% last year, down from 11% in 2010. Job creation rose to 37,600 in 4Q11 compared to 31,900 in 3Q11. However layoffs also increased to 3,250 workers in 4Q11, higher than the 1,960 in 3Q11. (ST)

Foreign investors bought Japanese stocks to the tune of ¥87.0bn last week (a revised ¥164.4bn in the prior week), the 11th straight week of net buying. Foreign purchases of bonds and bills also rose ¥240.5bn and ¥1.1bn respectively (revised ¥359.4bn and -¥69.2bn in the prior week). (Reuters)

European car registrations in Feb fell 9.2% yoy to 923,381m vehicles (-7.1% in Jan), the fifth consecutive monthly decline and steepest since a 16% fall in Oct 2010. (Bloomberg)

Eurozone employment fell 0.2% qoq in 4Q11 (-0.1% in 3Q11), whilst hourly labour costs rose 2.8% yoy in 4Q11 (2.7% in 3Q11), with a 3.3% rise in industry, according to Eurostat. (Reuters)

Wages in the euro zone rose 2.5% yoy in 4Q11, marginally stronger than the 2.4% increase in 3Q11. An inflation rate of 2.9% in 2011 indicates real wages fell over the period and likely weighed on consumers' ability and appetite to spend. (WSJ)

The IMF approved a €28bn loan for Greece as part of a second bailout led by euro-area governments that require more austerity and an overhaul of its economy, with €1.65bn to be made immediately available. The IMF also expects Greece to exit recession only by 2014. (Bloomberg)

India's central bank kept its repurchase rate steady at 8.50% and left the cash reserve ratio (CRR) unchanged at 4.75%, after it unexpectedly cut the CRR by 0.75% pt on 9 Mar. (WSJ)

India's economy is expected to grow 7.6% next fiscal year, from a 6.9% expansion expected this year ending 31 Mar, a government survey showed. The survey also projected India will miss its budget deficit target of 4.6% of GDP for the current fiscal year. (WSJ)

20120316 1014 Malaysia Corporate Related News.

AirAsia, MAS: Minister says there’re still opportunities for collaboration
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala  said there are still  opportunities for MAS and AirAsia to collaborate in areas that can benefit both. In his own  words, he said that they should find areas where they can work together. There are areas  where they have to compete and that is very important. He said the Competition Act, which  came into force in late Jan, would be the guideline for both airlines. (Bernama)

Proton: Company says P3-21A a global car in many aspects
Proton’s Senior Director Operations, Dr Wolfgang Karl Epple said the company’s new model,  codenamed P3-21A, is a global car in many aspects. Epple said this is because experts from  all over the world were involved in the processes to develop and design the car. He cites the  adoption of international benchmark processes such as the simulation. He added the team  that developed the car is also international comprising of experts from  Italy, France,  Germany and Korea. Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Sdn Bhd's Head of Styling, Engineering  Division, Azlan Othman said the P3-21A is the result from the collaboration with Italian-based  Italdesign Giugiaro, that would bring Proton to the next level in the aspects of design. (Bernama)

Proton: Board not seeking other parties for takeover offer
Proton’s board of directors has picked Affin Investment Bank as an independent adviser for  the non-interested directors and shareholders in relation to DRB-Hicom’s takeover offer. It  said that the board of directors of Proton wishes to confirm that the board is not seeking any  other person to make a take-over offer of its voting shares or voting rights. Proton also  advised the holders of the offer shares not to take any action until they have received the  independent advice circular from the independent adviser. On Wednesday, Proton received  a notice of unconditional take-over offer from Maybank Investment Bank on behalf of DRBHicom which had extended a mandatory take-over offer to acquire all the remaining  274.55m Proton shares or 49.99% at RM5.50 cash per share. (Financial Daily)

MISC: Oil terminal to start up by end of month
The newly built ATT Tanjung Bin oil terminal, which is located in Johor, will conduct a dry run  of operations within this week and expects to start up fuel-oil operations by the end of the  month. ATT Tanjung Bin Sdn Bhd (ATB) CEO, Eric Arnold said the terminal is ready for a dry  run of the jetty and related facilities, adding that it is in the last phase of construction now,  and will be completed within three weeks. (Business Times)

Kinsteel: Streamlining downstream ops, one-off costs of RM9m
Kinsteel  is streamlining its downstream business operations, especially its 51% owned  Perfect Channel Sdn Bhd, which has been affected by weak steel prices and rising material  costs.  The company said the Perfect Channel’s core activities were manufacturing and  trading of steel beams, bars, wire rods and other steel products. However, over the past few  years, Perfect Channel was affected by weaker-than-expected global steel demand and rising  material costs and also higher transportation cost for the raw materials. As such, it said the  streamlining of business operations is a strategic move  to consolidate Kinsteel group’s  downstream business which is in line with Kinsteel group’s on-going cost savings exercise  across its industry value chain. The streamlining, it said, would reduce the group’s turnover  but it would not have a material adverse impact on the profitability in the future. Hence, the  group expects a one off cost of approximately RM9m to compensate its existing staff and  workers affected by the streamlining of business operations. (Financial Daily)

EP Manufacturing: Takes over Maju Expressway
EP Manufacturing (EPMB) is buying the 26km Maju Expressway (MEX) from Maju Holdings  Sdn Bhd. According to sources, the company will pay RM1.7bn for the highway  concessionaire including its debts. EPMB and Maju Holdings will sign the acquisition today. A  source familiar with the deal said EPMB will finance the acquisition by issuing RM1.2bn in  sukuk while the remaining amount will be raised through bank borrowings.  The total project  cost of MEX is estimated to be RM1.32bn, of which RM976.7m was funded via government grants. (Financial Daily)

Selangor Dredging: Plans housing project with RM150m GDV in Gombak
Selangor Dredging plans to launch a housing project with an estimated GDV of RM150m in  Gombak. It is buying three pieces of leasehold land measuring nearly 36,000 sq  m from  Superior Dignity Sdn. Bhd for RM34.50m. The leases of the land to be acquired will expire  between 2069 and 2071. Selangor Dredging’s unit SDB  Properties  Sdn Bhd has initiated  application for a development order (DO) to develop the said lands with 79 units of superlink  terraces and 35 units of medium cost apartments. The valid DO has yet to be obtained from  the relevant authorities. It said the pieces of land were located in the centre of the Melawati  communities and surrounded by amenities including Jusco Shopping Centre, Giant and  Carrefour Hypermarket, Ampang Point, Melawati Urban Square and KLSC 2. (Financial Daily)

Eversendai: Expects new projects to account for 25% of revenue Eversendai Corporation expects to see a 25% contribution to its revenue from new project  ventures in 5 years. Group executive chairman and MD, Datuk A.K. Nathan said all the new  ventures will be related to their core business. One of the new ventures Eversendai is looking  at is the fabrication portion of the oil and gas industry. As of Feb 29, the group said it had  secured new contracts worth RM467m. (Financial Daily)

Sunway REIT: SC approves RM1.6bn debt papers
Sunway Real Estate Investment Trust’s (SunREIT) proposed issuance of up to RM1.6bn in  commercial papers has been approved by the Securities Commission (SC). It  said the  commercial paper has  7-year tenure and the funds raised will be  used to repay existing  borrowings granted by Public Bank. Funds raised will also go towards its working capital  requirements and defray expenses in relation to the exercise. (Financial Daily)

Deleum: Proposes 1-for-2 bonus issue
Deleum has proposed a 1-for-2 bonus issue of 50m new shares of RM1 each. It said the  proposed bonus issue would be  capitalised from its retained earnings, and would result in  the company’s issued and paid-up capital increasing from 100m shares to 150m shares of  RM1 each. (Bernama)

Zelan: Unit gets nod to undertake RM307.3m transport terminal project
Zelan's unit, Terminal Bersepadu Gombak Sdn Bhd (TEGAS), has been granted the concession  by the federal government to undertake the development of Gombak Integrated Transport  Terminal (GITT). The company said the concession, on a build-lease-manage-operate-transfer  basis by way of public-private-partnership, was for 25 years and three months from the  construction commencement date. It added that the project will cost approximately  RM307.37m, of which RM260.141m will be financed by Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Bhd  under the Bai' Istisna' facilities. The project, located next to the existing Gombak light rail  transit station and adjacent to the existing Middle Ring Road 2, comprised a  7-storey  terminal complex and related facilities. Zelan said GITT will be a major transportation hub to  take over the existing operations of the eastbound inter-city buses and taxis as well as intracity buses and taxis for Klang Valley. (Bernama)

Property: Temasek, Khazanah said to sign S$5bn of loans
According to a person familiar with the matter Temasek Holdings (TMSK) and Khazanah  Nasional Bhd, has signed S$5bn of property development loans. DBS Bank Ltd., OverseaChinese Banking Corp, United Overseas Bank Ltd. and  Maybank lent S$850m each, while  Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and Bank of  Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. each pledged S$500m, the person said, asking not to be identified  because details are private. The person added that CIMB Group has also committed S$100m.  Mohd Asuki Abas, a Khazanah spokesman, confirmed a loan was signed with eight banks.  Serena Khoo, a spokeswoman for Temasek, also said a loan was signed with the eight banks,  declining to confirm the amount. (Bloomberg)

Top Glove Q2 net profit soar
Top Glove Bhd's second quarter net profit for the period ended February 2012 more than doubled to RM53.46 million, thanks to higher glove demand, improved operational efficiency and cheaper latex prices. The stellar performance is pleasant turn of event for the group especially when it had been reporting lower profits for six straight quarters. In its filing to the stock exchange, Top Glove said average latex prices had been sliding to RM7.58 a kg from an average of RM8.14 a kg in the last six months. The high profits was also buoyed by RM13.3 million paper gain in foreign exchange compared to RM4.7 million net gain in the corresponding quarter a year ago. (Source: Business Times)

Khazanah sukuk priced at negative yield
Government investment arm Khazanah Nasional Bhd has issue the first Malaysian sukuk priced at a negative yield, following overwhelming demand from investors. Khazanah issued a seven-year benchmark exchangeable sukuk of US$357.8 million (RM1.09 billion) which is equity-linked to Parkson Retail Group Ltd (Parkson). The sukuk is issued via an independent Labuan incorporated special purpose company, Pulai Capital Ltd, and is exchangeable into the shares of Parkson. (Source: Business Times)

A controversial RM1.5bn loan using the retirement savings of workers will be used to finance Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) new low-cost housing schemes and to maintain existing projects that will be sold to unqualified buyers, the federal territories minister said. The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is providing the first tranche of RM300m to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) undertaking the financing for those buying some 24,000 low-cost flats in the capital city. Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin said DBKL “did not ask [for] money from the government” as it wanted to “avoid politics” in the scheme described as a “liquidation exercise.” The federal territories and urban well-being minister told reporters DBKL had decided against making direct loans to up to 35,000 city dwellers who are still renting and unable to borrow from banks as it needs funds for “future projects.” “When we sell these houses, we want the cash in hand so we can build new low-cost houses. But most importantly, we really need to improve maintenance,” he said, despite claiming DBKL has RM1.4bn in reserves. (Malaysian Insider)

The water talks between federal government and Selangor government will remain stalemated unless the latter is willing to separate the issue of the state water restructuring exercise and the construction of the Langat 2 water treatment plant, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui said. The Selangor government should not tie the approval to build the water treatment plant with the state water restructuring exercise currently being negotiated with the federal government. "Langat 2 is a different kettle of fish. It is an infrastructure project that needs to be done. If Selangor allows Langat 2 to be built, who operates it, we can talk later. No Issue." he said. (Financial Daily)

Honda Malaysia targets to sell 3,000 units of the All-New Jazz Hybrid by the end of this year and pledges to introduce more new hybrid models to the local market. The carmaker expects to sell 10,000 units of its hybrid series in 2012, managing director and CEO of Honda Malaysia Yoichiro Ueno said.(BT)

Practice Note 17 company, HDM-Carlaw Corp Bhd’s proposed restructuring scheme has been rejected by Bursa Malaysia. This FBM ACE Market listed company, will deliberate on the next course of action. It has one month to appeal on the decision. (BT)

Financially-troubled Silver Bird has been terminated as a distributor of Maxis prepaid cards. Silver Bird is seeking legal advice on the matter. Meanwhile, a Bursa announcement shows that 50,000 Silver Bird shares belonging to suspended MD Datuk Jackson Tan were forced sold at 21 sen/share. (Star)

20120316 0959 Global Market Related News.

Asian Stocks Drop as Japanese Exporters Fall on Stronger Yen (Source: Bloomberg)
Asian stocks fell, paring the benchmark index’s weekly gain, as a stronger yen damped the earnings outlook for Japanese exporters, outweighing optimism in the strength of the U.S. economy. Honda Motor Co. (7267), a carmaker that gets more than 80 percent of its revenue overseas, dropped 1.1 percent in Tokyo. Hyundai Wia Corp., an auto parts maker, slumped 4 percent in Seoul after Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. said they’re selling shares in the company. BHP Billiton Ltd., Australia’s biggest oil producer, slipped 1 percent in Sydney after crude prices fell yesterday. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.1 percent to 127.70 as of 9:43 a.m. in Tokyo, paring its weekly advance to 0.7 percent. About four stocks fell for every three that advanced, with all but one of the gauge’s 10 industry groups dropping. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) slid 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index (AS51) dropped 0.2 percent and South Korea’s Kospi Index was little changed.

Japan Stocks Snap 3-Day Rally on Yen, Overheating Signs (Source: Bloomberg)
March 16 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese stocks fell, snapping a three-day rally, as the yen rebounded, hurting prospects for exporters. Shares also declined as technical indicators suggested the market may be overheated. Honda Motor Co. (7267), Japan’s second-largest carmaker by market value, slid 1.1 percent after yesterday closing at its highest level in a year. Bridgestone Corp., the world’s biggest tiremaker, fell 1.1 percent after a report the world’s rubber shortage will deepen this year. Nippon Yusen K.K. (9101) paced gains among shipping lines after a measure of cargo rates climbed for a 16th day. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) fell 0.2 percent to 10,102.33 as of 9:24 a.m. in Tokyo. The benchmark gauge has added 1.7 percent this week, set for its sixth weekly gain, the longest streak since December 2010. The broader Topix Index lost 0.2 percent to 862.28. Losses were limited on reports U.S. manufacturing rose and jobless claims dropped.
“A downtrend in the yen is taking a pause, and chances are stocks will have a correction today following a rapid rally,” said Juichi Wako, a senior strategist at Tokyo-based Nomura Holdings Inc. “The market remains in a mid-term uptrend with expectations mounting about earnings in the next fiscal year. The Nikkei is likely to stay above 10,000.”

Europe Stocks Extend Highest Level Since July; H&M Climbs (Source: Bloomberg)
European stocks climbed for a third day, extending the Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s highest level since July, as U.S. jobs and manufacturing data added to optimism the recovery in the world’s largest economy is gaining momentum. Hennes & Mauritz AB advanced 2.4 percent after Europe’s second-largest clothing retailer reported an unexpected gain in sales. Aixtron SE surged 15 percent as Deutsche Bank AG recommended the shares. Pernod-Ricard (RI) SA slid 2.1 percent as Groupe Bruxelles Lambert SA sold a 499 million-euro ($651 million) stake. The Stoxx 600 (SXXP)rose 0.3 percent to 270.98 at the close of trading, after swinging between gains and losses at least 20 times today. The gauge has surged 11 percent this year amid optimism that the euro area will contain its sovereign-debt crisis and as U.S. economic data topped forecasts. The rally has pushed the index’s valuation to 11.3 times estimated earnings, the most expensive since May, Bloomberg data shows.
“We’re getting some positive economic news from the U.S.,” said Mike Lenhoff, chief strategist at Brewin Dolphin Securities Ltd. “Markets have come a long way in a short space of time and the scope to move considerably further upwards at this point in time is very limited.”

S&P 500 Tops 1,400 on Better-Than-Estimated Economic Data (Source: Bloomberg)
U.S. stocks advanced, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index above 1,400 for the first time in almost four years, as data showed manufacturing in the New York region unexpectedly increased and jobless claims declined. Financial (S5FINL), industrial and commodity shares rose the most among 10 groups in the S&P 500. Bank of America Corp., General Electric Co. and Dow Chemical Co. added at least 1.6 percent. International Business Machines Corp. rallied for a seventh day to an all-time high. Apple Inc. (AAPL) reversed earlier gains after topping $600 for the first time. The Dow Jones Transportation Average, a proxy for economic growth, increased 3.3 percent. The S&P 500 advanced 0.6 percent to 1,402.60 at 4 p.m. New York time, exceeding the median 2012 projection of strategists surveyed by Bloomberg of 1,400. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 58.66 points, or 0.4 percent, to 13,252.76, gaining for a seventh straight day, the longest winning streak in 13 months.
About 7.1 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, or 7.5 percent above the three-month average. “It’s been a smooth ride,” said Russ Koesterich, the San Francisco-based global chief investment strategist for the IShares unit of BlackRock Inc. His firm oversees $3.51 trillion as the world’s largest asset manager. “The economy is doing better than people thought. The buying is justified.”

Dollar gains; shares slip on China growth woes
TOKYO, March 15 (Reuters) - Asian shares eased on renewed concerns about Chinese growth, but a brighter global economic outlook underpinned the dollar and kept investor risk appetite intact, reducing the appeal of safe-haven government debts.
"The market is reviewing its view on the U.S. economy and scaling back expectations for further U.S. monetary easing or the risk that the U.S. economy will be doing poorly this year," Makoto Noji, senior strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

Dollar keeps rising on U.S. economic optimism, higher yields
TOKYO, March 15 (Reuters) - The dollar hit a fresh 11-month high against the yen and a one-month peak against the euro in Asia, supported by growing optimism about the U.S. economy and subsequent rises in U.S. bond yields.
"Don't think of this as risk-on bets on the global economy. The market has just reviewed its view on the U.S. economy, scaling back expectations of QE3 by the Fed or the view that the U.S. economy will be doing poorly this year," said Makoto Noji, senior strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

Russia may hike fuel oil export fee Apr-May-sources
MOSCOW, March 15 (Reuters) - Russia may increase its fuel oil export duty to 90 percent of the fee on crude oil from the current 66 percent starting in April or May, three government sources told Reuters on Thursday.
One government source said a government meeting discussing the duty was currently underway.

U.S. import prices rise in February on higher oil
WASHINGTON, March 14 (Reuters) - U.S. import prices rose in February on sharply higher oil costs, but there were few other signs of imported inflation pressure and food prices posted their largest decline in three years.
Import prices rose 0.4 percent after a downwardly revised flat reading in January, the Labor Department said. Prices in January were previously reported as having risen 0.3 percent.

Obama, UK's Cameron discussed tapping oil reserves-sources
WASHINGTON, March 14 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the possibility of releasing emergency oil reserves during a meeting on Wednesday, two sources familiar with the talks said, the first sign that Obama is starting to test global support for an effort to knock back near-record fuel prices.
Obama raised the issue during a broad bilateral meeting at the White House, according to a UK official with knowledge of the discussion.

Yen Poised for Weekly Loss Against Most Peers on U.S. Data, BOJ (Source: Bloomberg)
The yen headed for a weekly drop against most peers as signs of growth in the U.S. economy and prospects for further stimulus by Japan’s central bank prompted investors to seek higher-yielding assets. The dollar traded 0.9 percent from an 11-month high versus the yen before U.S. data today that may show industrial production increased and consumer sentiment improved. The Australian and New Zealand dollars are set for a weekly gain against the yen after stocks rallied globally yesterday, boosting demand for higher-yielding assets. Most Bank of Japan (8301) board members said easing steps taken last month were “appropriate,” meeting minutes showed. “At this stage, I’d have to say the momentum is still firmly for a weaker yen,” said Sean Callow, a senior currency strategist in Sydney at Westpac Banking Corp. (WBC) “The BOJ’s easing stance definitely seems to have at least contributed to the upswing in dollar-yen.”
The yen rallied 0.1 percent to 83.43 per dollar as of 9:28 a.m. in Tokyo from the close yesterday, when it touched 84.18, the weakest level since April 13. The Japanese currency has fallen 1.2 percent this week, set for a sixth-straight decline. It rose 0.2 percent to 109.13 per euro, set for a 0.8 percent drop since March 9. The dollar fetched $1.3082 from $1.3083, having gained 0.3 percent this week.

Jobless Claims in U.S. Decrease, Matching Four-Year Low (Source: Bloomberg)
Claims for jobless benefits dropped last week to match a four-year low, and U.S. consumer confidence rose to the highest since 2008, signaling an improving labor market may boost household spending. Applications for unemployment insurance payments fell by 14,000 to 351,000 in the period ended March 10, Labor Department figures showed today. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to minus 33.7 from minus 36.7 in the week ended March 11. “There’s a steady, sustained improvement in the labor market,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, who was ranked the most-accurate forecaster of personal spending over the two years through February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “As more people have jobs, confidence is picking up. This is consistent with pretty solid gains in consumer spending.”
Prospects for stronger household demand, along with investment in new equipment, helped sustain manufacturing in the New York and Philadelphia regions this month, reports from the Federal Reserve showed today. At the same time, wholesale prices climbed in February by the most in five months, a reminder that higher gasoline costs pose a risk to corporate and consumer spending.

International Demand for U.S. Assets Rises Above Forecast (Source: Bloomberg)
International demand for U.S. financial assets rose more than forecast in January as investors sought a haven from the debt crisis in Europe. Net buying of long-term equities, notes and bonds totaled $101 billion during the month, compared with net purchases of $19.1 billion in December, the Treasury Department said today in Washington. Six economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had forecast net buying of $38.5 billion of long-term assets, according to the median estimate. “The surge in foreign demand for U.S. financial assets underscores the healthy appetite that continues to prevail globally for U.S. securities,” Millan Mulraine, a senior U.S. strategist at TD Securities in New York, said. “Treasuries demand was especially strong, reflecting the appeal of this ‘safe haven’ asset to global investors even at a time when risk appetite was improving.”
U.S. assets maintained their attraction in January, as European leaders struggled to contain their debt crisis that started in Greece, Portugal and Ireland. Global risks posed by the European crisis diminished after euro area members this week approved a second bailout for Greece. The report showed that net foreign purchases of U.S. Treasuries totaled almost $83 billion in January, compared with net selling of $14.9 billion the month before.

Consumer Confidence in U.S. Rose Last Week to Four-Year High (Source: Bloomberg)
Consumer confidence rose last week to the highest level in four years as job gains put more Americans in the mood to spend. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index (COMFCOMF) climbed to minus 33.7 in the period to March 11, the strongest since March 2008, from minus 36.7 the previous week. A buying-climate gauge reached the highest level since November 2007, and a measure of the state of the economy had its best showing since September 2008. The bounce in sentiment coincides with gains in employment and a pickup in incomes that are giving households the means to withstand rising fuel bills. A rally in stock prices also bodes well for consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy. “Improvement in the labor market has boosted the confidence of consumers,” said Joseph Brusuelas, a senior economist at Bloomberg LP in New York. Wage gains are “bolstering retail sales and consumer confidence despite rising gasoline costs.”

U.S. May Sanction India Over Level of Iran-Oil Imports (Source: Bloomberg)
India has failed to reduce its purchases of Iranian oil, and if it doesn’t do so, President Barack Obama may be forced to impose sanctions on one of Asia’s most important nations, Obama administration officials said yesterday. A decision to levy penalties under a new U.S. law restricting payments for Iranian oil could come as early as June 28, according to several U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “Given the level of trade, and in particular oil, between Iran and India, targeting an Indian entity that facilitates Iran’s access to the international financial market should be top of mind for the U.S. Treasury,” Avi Jorisch, a former Treasury Department official who is now a Washington-based consultant on deterring illicit finance, said in an interview.
The U.S. law, which targets oil payments made through Iran’s central bank, applies to any country that doesn’t make a “significant” reduction in its Iranian crude oil purchases during the first half of this year. If India fails to cut Iranian imports sufficiently, Obama may be compelled to bar access to the U.S. banking system for any Indian bank processing oil payments through Iran’s central bank, the U.S. officials said.

Wholesale Prices in U.S. Increase by Most in Five Months (Source: Bloomberg)
Wholesale prices in the U.S. climbed in February by the most in five months, reflecting a jump in fuel costs that Federal Reserve officials project will be temporary. The producer price index rose 0.4 percent following a 0.1 percent increase the prior month, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. Economists projected a 0.5 percent gain, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. The core measure excluding volatile food and energy rose 0.2 percent, less than in the prior month. Rising energy costs may make it more expensive to manufacture goods, restraining profits as companies find it difficult to pass the increases to customers. Fed policy makers this week projected they’ll keep interest rates low at least until late 2014, predicting inflation will remain in check.
“There has not been a significant amount of price pressure at the producer level that would suggest they’ll have to increase prices anytime soon,” said Kevin Cummins, an economist at UBS Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, and the third most accurate forecaster of wholesale prices.

New York Area Factories Grew in March by Most Since June 2010 (Source: Bloomberg)
Manufacturing in the New York region expanded in March at the fastest pace since June 2010, indicating factories are still driving the expansion. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s general economic index unexpectedly increased to 20.2 this month from 19.5 in February. The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists was 17.5. Readings greater than zero signal expansion in the so-called Empire State Index, which covers New York, northern New Jersey and southern Connecticut. Investment in new equipment and inventory restocking this quarter will help keep American factories expanding even as slower global growth limits exports. A pickup in job creation that helps drive bigger gains in consumer spending may further fuel production.
“The economy is gaining momentum and gaining breadth,” John Herrmann, president of Herrmann Forecasting LLC in Summit, New Jersey, said before the report. “Manufacturing is benefitting from consumers pulling back so much in the past few years. There’s just this big replacement demand.”

Treasury 30-Year Debt Set for Biggest Weekly Drop in 31 Months (Source: Bloomberg)
Treasury (YCGT0025) 30-year bonds were poised for their biggest weekly drop in 31 months before U.S. data forecast to show consumer sentiment improved and factory output increased in the world’s largest economy. Yields on U.S. government debt with maturities ranging from two years to 30 years have risen this week after the Federal Reserve raised its assessment of the economy on March 13 and refrained from new actions to lower borrowing costs. “What’s behind the gains in Treasury yields is the improvement in the U.S. economy,” said Makoto Suzuki, senior debt strategist in Tokyo at Okasan Securities Co. “There’s an upside to yields.” Thirty-year yields were at 3.42 percent as of 9:48 a.m. in Tokyo, unchanged from yesterday’s close in New York. They have risen 24 basis points in the past five days, set for the biggest weekly gain since August 2009.

China to Slow Yuan Rise, Boost Volatility, HSBC’s Fung Says (Source: Bloomberg)
China will slow the pace of the yuan’s appreciation even as it steps up efforts to promote the currency’s use in international markets, says Anita Fung, HSBC Holdings Plc’s chief executive officer for Hong Kong. Yuan appreciation will “take a moderate pace,” Fung said at an event in New York. “There will be two-way flexibility. The internationalization of the renminbi remains on course,” she said, referring to the alternative name of the yuan. The People’s Bank of China set its daily fixing for the yuan at the lowest level since December yesterday, after allowing the currency to gain 31 percent since 2005. Premier Wen Jiabao said March 14 that the yuan may be near “equilibrium” and policy makers will allow greater exchange-rate volatility. “Currency policy is more cyclical and less structural,” Fung said.
The yuan has lost 0.5 percent against the dollar this year to 6.329, after gaining an average 4.3 percent annually over the past six years. Twelve-month non-deliverable forwards traded at 6.33 yuan yesterday, indicating traders expect the currency to be little changed for the period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Bo’s Ouster Shows China Leaders Fear Specter of Maoist Politics (Source: Bloomberg)
Bo Xilai’s removal as head of a city that helped lead China’s economic growth is a signal that the country’s Communist leadership wants to keep his style of populism out of the inner corridors of power, sticking to a consensus-driven government that emphasizes gradual change. Bo, 62, fired yesterday by the party as head of Chongqing Municipality and replaced by a North Korea-educated vice premier, stood out in a Politburo that seeks consensus. His leadership style in the city of about 30 million emphasized a revival of songs and slogans from China’s Maoist past. This week, his strategy drew a rebuke from Premier Wen Jiabao. With a once-a-decade leadership change coming later this year, the party elders may have sought to keep Bo from advancing to the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee.
The nine- man body, which exercises supreme authority in China, would have been altered by Bo’s independence, resulting in a leadership split in the world’s second-biggest economy, said Nicholas Bequelin, a China researcher for Human Rights Watch. “Bo was definitely too much of a maverick,” Hong Kong- based Bequelin said. “If you had put him in the Politburo Standing Committee it would have opened up a new era of competitive politics, and that is not what the party likes.”

India Holds Rate for Third Meeting as Inflation Accelerates (Source: Bloomberg)
India’s central bank left interest rates unchanged for a third consecutive meeting after inflation accelerated and as it awaits steps to curb the fiscal deficit in the budget tomorrow. The Reserve Bank of India kept the repurchase rate at 8.5 percent, it said in a statement in Mumbai today. The outcome was predicted by 19 of 22 economists in a Bloomberg News survey, with three forecasting a quarter-point reduction. It reiterated that future actions will be toward lowering rates. India joins nations from Indonesia to South Korea in holding borrowing costs this month, juggling price pressures with the need to prevent a deeper growth slowdown as investment falls and Europe’s debt crisis hurts exports. The central bank has signaled rate cuts to counter the weakest expansion in almost three years depend on a sustained easing in inflation and moves to curb the largest budget gap among BRIC economies.
“Oil prices and the decline in the currency pose a huge worry for the inflation trajectory,” said Anubhuti Sahay, an economist at Standard Chartered Plc in Gurgaon, near New Delhi. “The RBI wants to see an indication of reduction in the fiscal deficit in the budget tomorrow before embarking on cutting rates.”

Brazil Anticipates Keeping Rate at Near Low Over 18 Months (Source: Bloomberg)
Brazil anticipates keeping its benchmark borrowing cost near a record low for the next 18 months, a government official said, challenging higher market interest rates based on above-target inflation in 2013. The central bank said today inflation will slow to around its 4.5 percent target this year, giving policy makers room to reduce the Selic (BZSTSETA) rate to “slightly above” the historical low of 8.75 percent. Analysts expect prices to rise 5.3 percent in 2012 and 5.5 percent in 2013, according to the median estimates in a central bank survey. That has prompted traders to bet bank President Alexandre Tombini will have to reverse course early next year after reducing the rate to 9 percent by May, interest-rate futures show.
Slower global economic growth and a delay in a definitive solution for the European debt crisis mean that there is no reason to expect inflation will accelerate in Brazil, said the official, who asked not to be identified to comply with internal policy. As a result, the government anticipates interest rates may stay close to record low levels over the next 18 months, the official said.

Greek Restructuring Delay Helps Banks as Risks Shift (Source: Bloomberg)
Delaying Greece’s debt restructuring by more than a year reduced banks’ potential losses as firms trimmed their holdings and most of the risk shifted to European taxpayers. When Greece was first rescued by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in May 2010, lenders in other EU nations held $68 billion of its sovereign debt, according to the Bank for International Settlements. If Greece had defaulted, banks would have lost $51 billion at a 25 percent recovery rate. Banks’ holdings of Greek bonds fell by more than half to about $31 billion over the next 15 months, according to BIS, cutting creditors’ losses at last week’s swap by at least 45 percent. Lenders are protected against further losses thanks to sweeteners from the EU to encourage the exchange. Meanwhile, Greece’s debt remains almost unchanged and the risk of future default is now mostly borne by the public. The same playbook is being used with Portugal and Ireland.
“This is a horrible deal for the EU taxpayer,” said Raoul Ruparel, chief economist at Open Europe, a London-based research group. “The longer we wait for these restructurings, the worse the deal gets for the public. There’s an ongoing risk transfer from the banks to the taxpayers.”

Spanish Stocks Miss Rally on Rajoy Budget Gap Skepticism (Source: Bloomberg)
Spanish stocks are the only developed market suffering losses this year as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fails to rein in the budget deficit fast enough to assure investors. The IBEX 35 Index (IBEX) dropped 2.1 percent in 2012 through yesterday, the only decline among 24 developed markets tracked by Bloomberg. That compares with an 11 percent rally in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index (SXXP), the best start to a year since 1998. The Spanish gauge has erased all gains that followed the European Central Bank’s Dec. 8 announcement of unlimited three-year loans for banks at below-market borrowing costs. Investors are shunning Spain after Rajoy said the budget deficit will be higher than forecast while Germany praised Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti’s “bold” austerity measures. Spanish benchmark borrowing costs rose above Italy’s for the first time in almost eight months in March, while analysts have cut profit estimates for Spain this year at the fastest pace among Europe’s 10 largest markets.
“Since you got Monti in Italy, the market has said, ‘Fine, Italy is in safe pair of hands,’” said Jacob de Tusch-Lec, a fund manager who helps oversee $18 billion at Artemis Investment Management in London. “It is tough to see in Spain for now what can resolve the crisis. Things are so bad that as an investor you ask yourself, ‘Do I need to be there?’”

20120316 0957 Soy Oil & Palm Oil Related News.

Soybeans (Source: CME)
US soybean futures end higher, climbing to new 6-month highs as strong export demand extends the market's upward trend. Nearby soybean futures settled higher for the 24th time in the last 32 days, as drought reduced South American production raises concern about tighter US and global supplies. Weekly export sales reported by USDA this morning gave provided new fuel to bolster bullish attitudes, analysts say. China remains an active buyer of US soybeans, a feature seem confirming trader's ideas that smaller South American crops are generating additional US export demand, analysts add. CBOT May soybeans ended up 18 3/4c at $13.69/bushel.

Soybean Meal/Oil (Source: CME)
Soy product futures jump in step with advances in soybean futures. Concerns smaller South American soybean supplies will lead to additional US export demand serve as the fundamental catalyst to push soymeal and soyoil to new six-month highs, analysts say. CBOT May soymeal ended up $4.20 higher at $371.40/short ton, and May soyoil ended up 0.68c to 55.48c/lb.

Palm oil at new nine-month high on export recover
SINGAPORE, March 15 (Reuters) - Malaysian crude palm oil futures edged up to a new nine-month high as strong export numbers painted a rosy demand outlook for the edible oil and soybean supply fears in South America lifted sentiment.
"Generally the external markets have been quite strong and news on the external fronts have been quite positive. Soybean prices are also on the uptrend, lifted partly by the improving confidence of the global economy," said Ivy Ng, an analyst with Malaysia's CIMB Investment Bank.

Palm oil has grown increasingly difficult for Iran to secure as the United States and Europe impose tough financial sanctions to stop its nuclear weapons programme. Middle East and Southeast Asian traders said Iranians have been offering $20 to $30 per tonne more for palm oil from top producers Indonesia and Malaysia, but no deals have been signed in the past month though food is not included under sanctions. Traders in Malaysia said that Iran was considering importing palm oil via India, which is the world's biggest importer of the vegetable oil and using a rupee payment scheme. Yet, edible oil exporters in India say they have not heard of such deals as New Dehli will tax re-exported cargoes of palm oil, lifting costs. (Starbiz)

20120316 0958 Global Commodities Related News.

Corn (Source: CME)
US corn futures end higher as the market tries to keep pace with surging soybeans. Near-term supply concerns help fuel the market, and the market's surge above its 200-day moving average attracted technical buying, traders say. Also, while this year's corn acreage is likely to be big, plantings could slip if soybean prices continue to surge, giving farmers a profitable option other than corn. "It's definitely something that's a growing concern," says Shawn McCambridge, senior grains analyst with Jefferies Bache. Optimism about US exports in the wake of a drought-stricken South America crop add to the strength. CBOT May corn ends up 10 1/4 cents to $6.69 a bushel.

Wheat (Source: CME)
US wheat futures rise sharply on strength in soybeans and concerns about the crop. Soybeans have been rallying, hitting a 6-month high, and has been pulling corn and wheat higher. Meanwhile, worries about dry weather in the southern Plains is causing concerns about crops, as are unusually warm temperatures that are causing the crop to break dormancy early. That puts it potentially at risk for a late freeze, traders say. Wheat also got a boost from fresh sales of 120K metric tons to Egypt, split between Canada and the US. CBOT May wheat ends up 21c at $6.64 3/4 a bushel while KCBT May climbs 23 1/2c to $7.04 1/2 and MGEX May rises 13 3/4c to $8.20 1/4.

Rice (Source: CME)
US rice futures end higher, supported by broad strength in soybeans, corn and wheat, and by concerns about possible low rice acreage in the US this year leading to tight rice supplies. Some support comes from traders pricing in the risk of a lower rice acreage forecast in the USDA's report due at the end of the month based on a survey of farmers. CBOT May rice ends up 40 1/2c or 2.9% at $14.32 a hundredweight.

Indonesia Q1 cocoa output to slump 60 pct on heavy rains
JAKARTA, March 14 (Reuters) - Heavy rains in the first quarter will lead to a 60 percent slump in Indonesia's cocoa bean output compared to a year ago, an industry group said on Wednesday, although the full-year figure is likely to show a near 10 percent increase.
Wet weather wreaked havoc on the crop last year and brought back Vascular-streak Dieback (VSD) disease to plantations across the main growing island of Sulawesi, killing trees and curbing exports in the world's third largest producer.

Philippines sets June 30 deadline for rice imports
SINGAPORE, March 15 (Reuters) - The Philippines, the world's biggest rice buyer in recent years, has set a June 30 deadline for importers of the grain to avoid duties on 380,000 tonnes of shipments, a National Food Authority official said on Thursday.
"Time is running out," Angelito Banayo, administrator of the state grain buyer, told reporters at an industry conference in Singapore.

Vietnam sees 2012 rice exports as much as 7.2 mln T
HANOI, March 15 (Reuters) - Vietnam will not limit rice exports this year and will aim to ship as much as 7.2 million tonnes for the whole of 2012, on par with the record volume reached last year, the agriculture minister said on Thursday.
"In our assessment we can maintain and will strive to reach the level of last year," Minister Cao Duc Phat told reporters.

Ukraine starts 2012 spring sowing
KIEV, March 14 (Reuters) - Farms in Ukraine's southern Crimea region have started the 2012 spring field works, sowing the first 400 hectares of early grains, the UkrAgroConsult agriculture consultancy said on Wednesday.
Last year, Crimean farms started spring sowing on March 10.

Syria needs to import a third more grain this yr-FAO
MILAN, March 14 (Reuters) - Syria, hit by a civil unrest, needs to raise cereals import by about a third in the current marketing year after its local grain output 10 percent dropped in 2011, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Wednesday.
"Continued civil unrest in the Syrian Arab Republic since mid-March 2011 has raised serious concern over the state of food security, particularly for vulnerable groups," the FAO said in a special alert note.

Imported-Food Outbreaks Rise, CDC Says (Source: CME)
Outbreaks of illness linked to imported food have risen since the late 1990s, casting a spotlight on federal inspection standards for fish, produce and other foods brought in from abroad. The 39 outbreaks from imported food reported between 2005 and 2010 represent a small fraction of total cases of food-borne illnesses such as salmonella or E. coli, according to the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented Wednesday. But the rise in imported-food outbreaks--mostly from fish and spices--highlights gaps in the food-safety system a sweeping new law is intended to address. CDC researchers found 6.5 outbreaks from foreign foods a year, on average, between 2005 and 2010--more than double the average of 2.7 outbreaks annually between 1998 and 2004. Of the 39 outbreaks between 2005 and 2010, nearly half--17--occurred in 2009 and 2010.
The foods, including fish, oysters, cheese, sprouts and seven other types of products, were shipped from 15 countries. Nearly 45% of those foods originated from Asia. Most people were sickened with salmonella or histamine fish poisoning, a bacterial disease contracted from eating spoiled dark-flesh fish that causes rashes, diarrhea, sweating, headaches and vomiting. The outbreaks led to 2,348 cases of illness, the CDC said. Among the largest of those outbreaks was one in 2008 linked to jalapeño and serrano peppers from Mexico contaminated with salmonella. More than 1,400 people were sickened and more than 280 were hospitalized with salmonella in 43 states. Other major outbreaks reviewed in the study were a 2007 recall of Veggie Booty, a puffed rice snack that was found to contain contaminated raw materials from China that led to 52 cases of salmonella in 17 states, and a 2010 outbreak of typhoid fever tied to frozen fruit pulp that originated in Guatemala.
The number of outbreaks reported is likely underestimated because of inconsistent country-of-origin labeling, Hannah Gould, a CDC epidemiologist and lead author of the study, said in a phone interview. "We don't always know where food comes from," Gould said. The full study will be published later this year. The CDC estimates more than 3,000 Americans die annually from food poisoning and 48 million are sickened. The amount of food imported has nearly doubled in the past decade, to 10.7 million shipments in 2009 from 5.6 million shipments in 2002, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which inspects shipments. Nearly 16% of food consumed by Americans comes from abroad, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The FDA said it inspected about 1,000 of the 254,000 foreign-based food-processing facilities during its 2011 fiscal year, but it expects to increase its number of inspections as part of a sweeping food-safety law signed last year by President Barack Obama, an FDA spokeswoman said.
Foreign food companies are allowed to pass inspections by paying a third-party inspector to visit their facilities, said Deirdre Schlunegger, chief executive of STOP Foodborne Illness Inc., a nonprofit pushing for stronger inspection regulations. She wants FDA officials to conduct the on-site investigations. "There's a lot of room for improvement," Schlunegger said. "We need to see more inspections, more consistent inspections."

India Farm Sector Growth Slowed To 2.5% In 2011-12: Economic Survey (Source: CME)
India's agriculture growth likely slowed to 2.5% in the current fiscal year ending March 31, the government's annual economic survey said. The sector grew 7% in 2010-11, helped by a bumper crop that followed a year of drought. The survey did not elaborate on the reasons behind the expected slow-down but analysts said it could partly be because the sector had to grow from a higher base. According to the survey, an annual report card released by the country's finance ministry, the agriculture sector grew 3.28% annually during the 11th Five-Year Plan period ending March 31, 2012, well below the government's 11th Plan target of 4%. Released ahead of the national budget scheduled Friday, the survey provides an early peak into the government's thinking on proposed spending proposals for the various sectors of the economy.
"The outlook for the next fiscal remains bright but given the rapidly rising demand for food, there is a need to consider [new] policy options to ensure a brighter medium-term outlook," the survey said. On such option could be regular import of agricultural commodities in small quantities with an upper ceiling imposed on the total quantity, it said. "The upper ceiling can be decided annually, relatively well in advance." India, the world's largest importer of edible oils and pulses, has regularly turned to imports to ensure price stability at home. Domestic inflation accelerated again to 6.95% in February after easing in the previous two months. India experienced inflation above 9% during the 12 months through November, but the central bank has said it expects inflation to settle around 7% by end-March.
Although the country currently has sufficient stockpile of food grains and sugar, it has imported wheat and rice in the past. Because of its uncertain nature, Indian import demand often has a magnified impact on global prices. Underscoring the shift in consumption habits in favour of more expensive food items such as fruits and vegetables, the survey said the government needs to earmark specific areas for their production and support farmers who grow crops that are in short supply. The survey also suggested wide-ranging reforms in agricultural marketing to enable greater competition and better price discovery. The aim is to eliminate middlemen who take advantage of opaque markets and pay low prices to farmers but jack up prices at the retail end.

Strategie Grains Cuts EU 2012-13 Grain Output To 288.3M Tons (Source: CME)
Strategie Grains downwardly revised its estimate for the European Union's 2012-13 grain harvest by 1.1 million metric tons, to 288.3 million tons, due to a worrisome weather outlook, with the prospect of drought after severe cold weather in January and February. The influential analyst group also said it revised the bloc's soft wheat production down by 1.6 million tons to 131.1 million tons to reflect the area of destroyed winter wheat that will need to be replanted as result of freezing weather. This reduction mostly concerns France and Germany, with combined losses of 0.8 million tons, as well as the southeast EU countries, with losses of 0.8 million tons. With corn areas set to increase as many destroyed winter cereal fields are replanted with the grain, Strategie Grains increased its corn output estimate by 2 million tons to 64.6 million tons. This increase mostly pertains to Romania and Bulgaria, central Europe and west Europe.
The analyst revised barley production down by 1.2 million tons to 53.4 million tons, as winterkill in southeast EU countries caused 0.3 million tons of losses, while France and Germany's output fell 0.1 million tons each. Meanwhile, Strategie Grains cut its projected yield in Spain by 0.5 million tons, due to the drought.

Flood Risks Drop But Drought To Persist This Spring -NOAA (Source: CME)
Most of the continental U.S. is at little risk of flooding this spring, while the southern part of the country is expected to remain mired in drought, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. "We're not forecasting a repeat of recent historic and prolonged flooding in the central and northern U.S., and that is a relief," said Laura Furgione, deputy director of NOAA's National Weather Service. "The severity of any flooding this year will be driven by rainfall more so than the melting of the current snowpack." Extreme flooding from heavy snowfall last winter delayed plantings of crops from corn to sugarbeets across the Midwestern U.S., sending prices higher. A drier spring would be a relief for farmers, particularly in the northern Great Plains, after they endured widespread flooding last year that kept them from sowing hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. But the federal forecast is bittersweet for other U.S. farmers who are gearing up for planting season.
Although it isn't expected to be as severe as last year, drought in the southern U.S. will likely continue through the end of June and could spread, NOAA said. "Recent rainfall has helped lessen the drought in eastern Oklahoma, northeast Texas and interior Louisiana, but the historic magnitude of this prolonged drought means that recovery will be slow," said David Brown, director of NOAA's Southern Region Climate Services. "Drought is now encompassing parts of the West and Southwest, making conditions more favorable for wildfires." The dry weather could hurt cotton production. The U.S. Department of Agriculture already is forecasting a 13% decline in output in the year ending July 31, at 15.7 million bales. Drought likely will continue in West Texas and Georgia, which together produce more than one-third of U.S. cotton. Drought last year ravaged cotton production in Texas, which produced its smallest crop since 1998.
If the drought continues, it is bullish for cotton futures, said Andy Ryan, a senior analyst at INTL FCStone. The new "crop's going to be planted April, May, June." Cotton futures are down about 4% since the start of the year because of concerns about a glut of supply on slow demand. The parched conditions in the southern Plains over the last 18 months also have forced ranchers in states like Texas and Oklahoma to liquidate hundreds of thousands of beef cattle. The enduring drought conditions continue to delay any efforts to rebuild herds, a process that likely will take at least three years, if not longer. Nearly 70% of Texas--the largest cattle-producing state in the nation--remains in severe drought or worse, according to federal data. NOAA said the southwest is at risk for wildfires.

China Corn Imports May Rise On Lower US Prices -CNGOIC (Source: CME)
China will likely step up corn imports as U.S. prices have fallen below local prices and farmers are selling 2011 grain at a slow pace amid rains, Shang Qiangmin, director of the China National Grain and Oils Information Center, said. Some Chinese feed mills recently signed contracts to import U.S. corn amid high domestic prices, but major buyers Cofco Group and Sinograin have yet to enter the market, traders said. However, domestic corn supply is sufficient following a record harvest, Shang told an industry conference. Due to excessive rains, farmers are delaying sales, reducing market supply and causing prices to soar, he said. Stockpilier China Grain Reserves Corp., known as Sinograin, has so far bought only 1.2 million tons of 2011 corn locally for state reserves, Song Zhiyuan, an official with Sinograin, said. It bought 11 million tons of 2010 corn last year.
Feed mill demand for corn will increase slightly this year while processors' demand will stay flat this year, he said, adding that supply would be in a slight surplus. Song also said Sinograin won't release imported corn from reserves in the near term, despite high local prices. Sinograin bought more than 3 million tons from the U.S. to replenish depleted reserves last year.

Cocoa Rally Fading as African Rains Erase Shortage: Commodities (Source: Bloomberg)
Rain across parched cocoa plantations in West Africa, which supplies 69 percent of the world’s beans, is leading analysts to pare forecasts for shortages, threatening the biggest rally in a year. Global output should about match demand in the crop year ending in September, compared with the 94,000-metric-ton deficit seen last month, according to estimates by Marex Spectron Group, which trades the beans in New York and London. Prices may drop 10 percent to $2,000 a ton by July, according to Rabobank International and Lome, Togo-based Ecobank Transnational Inc., which financed $227 million of cocoa and coffee trading in 2011.
Prices rose as much as 21 percent in the past two months as dry winds blowing from the Sahara toward the Atlantic battered West African plantations before a mid-crop harvest that starts next month. Farmers have struggled to keep up with a 38 percent expansion in the chocolate market since 2006, which London-based Euromonitor International Ltd. values at $105 billion. Cocoa output rose 15 percent to 3.96 million tons since 2006-07, according to the International Cocoa Organization. “Recent rains in West Africa have been plentiful, particularly in Ghana, and this is positive for the development of the mid-crop and the new crop,” said Eric Sivry, the London- based head of Marex Spectron’s agriculture options brokerage. “Many analysts have been caught by surprise.”

Brazil 2012-13 Sugarcane Crop Seen At 518.3M Tons (Source: CME)
Brazil's key center-south region will likely see a modest recovery in its sugarcane crop during the coming 2012-13 season, as last year's problems related to pests, frost and flowering aren't expected to occur, sugar and ethanol consultancy Datagro said. The region, which produces nearly 90% of Brazil's sugarcane, should crush 518.3 million metric tons of the crop during the harvest that starts in April and runs through November. That forecast represents an increase of about 5.1% from the previous year. While the sector's main structural problem--insufficient renewal of sugarcane fields in recent years--remains largely unresolved, there's plenty of room for improvement over last year's disappointing sugarcane crop, Datagro President Plinio Nastari said in a press conference. In 2011, center-south sugarcane output fell for the first time in a decade amid a high incidence of pests, a series of rare winter frosts that damaged fields, and widespread flowering that reduced plants' sugar content.
"Everything indicates that flowering won't occur this year," Nastari said, noting the phenomenon is triggered by weather conditions early in the year. Datagro expects mills in center-south Brazil to churn out 33.88 million tons of sugar in the 2012-13 season, up 8.6% year-over-year. Production of ethanol fuel is seen rising 5.9% to 21.8 billion liters. Datagro expects northern and northeastern Brazil to post similar numbers to its 2011-12 crop, crushing 68 million tons of sugarcane. Mills in that region are expected to produce 4.9 million tons of sugar and 2.15 billion liters of ethanol fuel. Nastari said Brazil as a whole should export 26.35 million tons of sugar and 1.8 billion liters of ethanol fuel in 2012-13.

Brazil coffee crop seen at 52-54 mln bags - Cepea
BRASILIA, March 14 (Reuters) - Brazil's 2012/13 coffee harvest should turn out between 52 million and 54 million 60-kg bags, the Sao Paulo-based economic research center Cepea said on Wednesday, about 15 percent below potential due to drought early in its development.
The upper end of Cepea's range is close to the consensus forecast among exporters, while government crop supply agency Conab predicts 49 million to 52.3 million bags.

Brazil cocoa arrivals slip but still high for March
SAO PAULO, March 14 (Reuters) - Cocoa deliveries to warehouses in Brazil eased in the last week, data from the Bahia Commercial Association showed, but output from top cocoa-growing state Bahia was still well above the usual for the time of year.
Separately, Brazil's exports of cocoa products fell in February from the same month a year earlier. In bean equivalent, exports totaled 4,387 tonnes, down from 6,084 tonnes a year earlier. Brazil exports mostly products and few cocoa beans.    

Brazil sugar exports to be spared port jam in 2012
BRASILIA, March 14 (Reuters) - Shipments of sugar should flow smoothly from top producer Brazil this year with long-range weather forecasts pointing to a dry winter, cutting the risk of a repeat of the disruption two seasons ago that sent prices of the sweetener soaring.
The opening of an additional bulk-loading terminal at key sugar port Santos and the deepening of canals there and at Paranagua are additional assurance that long and costly delays for loading are improbable, shippers and forecasters said.

Ivorian San Pedro cocoa arrivals 468,088 T by March 5
ABIDJAN, March 14 (Reuters) - Cocoa arrivals at Ivory Coast's port of San Pedro reached 468,088 tonnes by March 5 since the start of the season in October, according to data from the Coffee and Cocoa Bourse (BCC) obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
Figures for the same period last season were not available due to last year's post-election civil war that shut down the industry and port operations.

India eyes more sugar exports, may hit world prices
NEW DELHI, March 14 (Reuters) - India could allow up to 1 million tonnes more unrestricted sugar exports in early April, a food ministry source said on Wednesday, potentially pressuring already weak global prices.
India, the world's second-biggest producer and largest consumer of sugar, has already allowed two million tonnes of sugar exports in the year that began  on Oct. 1 and expects output to far outstrip demand.

Burundi sees 2012/13 coffee output jumping 107 pct
BUJUMBURA, March 14 (Reuters) - Burundi predicts coffee output for the 2012/13 season will jump by 107 percent compared with the previous season, following the cyclical nature of the crop and good rains, the country's industry regulator said on Wednesday.
Production for the coffee year (April 1-March 31) would reach 29,000 tonnes against 14,000 tonnes produced in the 2011/12 crop.

Brent edges above $125; U.S. crude stocks at a high
PERTH, March 15 (Reuters) - Brent crude inched above $125, after falling more than a dollar the previous session, as traders balanced a firm dollar and bulging U.S. crude stocks with lingering concerns about tensions between Iran and the West.
"Today I think the market is reacting to the mixed data coming out of the U.S. EIA crude inventory report. It was bearish on the crude side in that the build was a little bit higher than the market was expecting," said Natalie Robertson, an analyst at ANZ Bank.

Oil Advances From One-Week Low in New York on Economic Outlook (Source: Bloomberg)
Oil gained for the first time in three days in New York, trimming a weekly decline, as investors bet that fuel demand may increase amid signs of an economic recovery in the U.S., the world’s biggest crude consumer. Futures rose as much as 0.5 percent, climbing from the lowest close in more than a week. Claims for jobless benefits fell last week to match a four-year low, while manufacturing in the New York region expanded along with gains in factory output in the Philadelphia area, separate reports showed. Prices slid yesterday after the U.S. and U.K. discussed the release of strategic oil reserves. No agreement was reached. “The U.S. appears to have established a pretty good base for growth,” said Ric Spooner, a chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. “The economic news is good. We’re headed in the right direction and that’s certainly a positive for oil.”
Oil for April delivery gained as much as 47 cents to $105.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $105.52 at 11:23 a.m. Sydney time. The contract yesterday dropped 32 cents to $105.11 a barrel, the lowest close since March 6. Prices are down 1.8 percent this week and 6.7 percent higher this year.

Copper Rises as Reports Signal U.S. Economic Recovery (Source: Bloomberg)
Copper rose for the second time in three days amid more signs that the economy is recovering in the U.S., the world’s second-biggest user of the metal. Manufacturing in the New York region expanded in March at the fastest pace since June 2010, and a Philadelphia-area factory index grew at the quickest rate in 11 months, regional Federal Reserve bank data showed today. A Labor Department report showed claims for jobless benefits matching the lowest in four years, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index topped 1,400 for the first time since 2008. “The U.S. is showing some growth, and it’s a trend now,” Frank Cholly, a senior commodity broker at RJO Futures in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “You always need a steady diet of good news to feed a bull market, and for as long as we have that, equities will continue to rally, and copper will follow.” Copper futures for May delivery advanced 1.3 percent to settle at $3.8975 a pound at 1:25 p.m. on the Comex in New York. The metal has climbed 13 percent this year.

Gold Bulls Weakest in Two Months as Economy Gains: Commodities (Source: Bloomberg)
Gold traders are the least bullish in two months after prices erased more than half of this year’s gain on speculation that a strengthening U.S. economy will dissuade the Federal Reserve from buying more debt. Thirteen of 26 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect prices to gain next week and four were neutral, the lowest proportion since Jan. 20. Hedge funds cut bets on a rally by the most since August 2008 in the week ended March 6, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Prices fell to an eight-week low March 14, 15 percent below September’s record, and are now below the 200- day moving average, a sign of more declines to some investors.
Gold slid and the dollar gained after Fed policy makers raised their assessment of the economy March 13. The Fed is unlikely to start new quantitative easing and may raise interest rates as early as mid-2013, according to UBS AG. Bullion doubled since debt buying began in December 2008 and rates fell to near zero. The combined market capitalization of global stocks jumped $5.5 trillion this year on mounting confidence about growth, data compiled by Bloomberg show. “Everything’s beginning to look as if it’s turning the corner, we’ve passed the point of maximum despair,” said Nick Moore, the head of commodity research at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London. “A number of things which would have kept people with an eye on the upside for gold have now been neutralized. Gold can now settle back.”