Tuesday, March 20, 2012

20120320 1806 FCPO EOD Daily Chart Study.

FCPO closed : 3366, changed : -7 points, volume : higher.
Bollinger band reading : pullback correction upside biased.
MACD Histrogram : weakenning, buyer taking profit.
Support : 3350, 3300, 3270, 3250 level.
Resistance : 3420, 3450, 3470, 3500 level.
Comment :
FCPO closed recorded loss with increasing volume participation. Soy oil price currently registering loss of nearly 1% after overnight closed little lower while crude oil price currently pulling back lower after overnight gain.
Concern over slowing down China and U.S. economy growth, firmer U.S. Dollar and cargo surveyor reported improved but slower export data pressed FCPO price lower.
Technical chart analysis still 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.

20120320 1744 FKLI EOD Daily Chart Study.

FKLI closed : 1575.5 changed : +3 points, volume : lower.
Bollinger band reading : correction range bound little upside biased.
MACD Histrogram : turned upward, buyer seller battling.
Support : 1570, 1565, 1550, 1540 level.
Resistance : 1580, 1590, 1600, 1610 level.
Comment :
FKLI closed recorded gain with quiet volume traded doing 2 points discount compare to cash market that also closed higher. Overnight U.S. markets closed recorded small gain and today Asia markets traded mixed while European markets currently trading weaker.
Global markets still traded mixed having different opinion on news of China raised fuel prices, China car makers association said auto sales will miss forecast and Federal Reserve board member warned the U.S. economy rebound still faces risks.
Back home, FKLI technical chart reading still suggesting a correction range bound little 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.

20120320 1658 Regional Markets EOD Daily Chart Study.

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

20120320 1608 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

Asian shares fall, led by China; euro steady
SINGAPORE, March 20 (Reuters) - Asian shares slipped, dragged down by losses in Hong Kong and Shanghai, while the euro held near its highest level in a week after an orderly auction of Greek default insurance eased fears about the threat to the single currency posed by Greece.
"Momentum is clearly stalling right now and in need of distinct signals, whether it be U.S. housing data pointing to a stable recovery or stronger indications of policy easing in China," said Kim Se-joong, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities in Seoul.

FOREX-Dollar hovers near one-week low; Aussie dips
SINGAPORE, March 20 (Reuters) - The dollar hovered near a one-week low against a basket of currencies on Tuesday, but recent signs of improvement in the U.S. economy and rising Treasury yields were likely to lend it some support.
The dollar index stood at 79.497, having regained a bit of ground after dipping to 79.354 on Monday, its lowest level since March 9. One possible support level lies roughly around 79.30, its 100-day moving average.  

FX COLUMN-Better U.S. outlook may see dollar outpace euro, yen
--Neal Kimberley is an FX market analyst for Reuters. The opinions expressed are his own--
LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) The dollar may be in for a period of sustained strength as the foreign exchange market recognises the relative strength of the U.S. economy.
The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee last week upgraded its economic outlook, removing a number of caveats from the statement issued after its January meeting.

Wheat falls for 2nd day on US weather; corn, soy ease
SINGAPORE, March 20 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat extended losses, sliding more than 1 percent as forecasts of crop-friendly weather in the U.S. Plains boosted supply prospects.
"Warm temperatures and scattered rain in the U.S. are promoting rapid development of the winter wheat crop," said Luke Mathews, commodities strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. "Forecast relief to dryness in southwest Europe and w estern Canada is also weighing on values."

Argentine truckers strike as soy harvest starts
BUENOS AIRES, March 19 (Reuters) - Argentina's truckers have called an indefinite strike to demand higher pay rates, parking their rigs in protest just as exporters were counting on them to haul freshly harvested soybeans to port.
Grains powerhouse Argentina is the world's No. 1 supplier of soyoil, a feedstock for the booming international biofuels sector. It is also a top soybean and corn exporter.
I.Coast patchy rains raise cocoa mid-crop concerns
ABIDJAN, March 19 (Reuters) - Patchy rains and hot weather last week in Ivory Coast's principal cocoa growing regions have raised concerns over the top grower's April-to-September mid-crop development, farmers and analysts said on Monday.
The weather has been in focus in Ivory Coast after a prolonged dry season from mid-November to late February cut expectations for a healthy crop and harvest.
Morocco halts barley import duties until end 2012-traders
PARIS, March 19 (Reuters) - The Moroccan government has suspended import duties on barley until Dec. 31 to ensure adequate supplies to its domestic market in the face of a growing drought, European traders said on Monday.
Morocco, which halted barley import duties on March 15, is bracing for a drop in this year's cereals harvest, as well as other crops, after a shortage in rainfalls and a prolonged cold spell hurt farming.

Zambia commercial farmers cut maize production
LUSAKA, March 19 (Reuters) - Commercial maize production in Zambia will fall by about 80 percent in the 2011/2012 season compared with the previous crop season after farmers turn to more lucrative cash crops, the farmers' union said on Monday.
Zambia's commercial maize farmers produce a fraction of the national output compared to small-scale farmers.
Zimbabwe writes off a third of maize crop, deficit looms
HARARE, March 19 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe faces a huge grain deficit this year after a third of the current maize crop was written off due to a prolonged dry spell, state media reported on Monday.
The southern African country, once a regional bread basket, has struggled to feed itself since 2000 when President Robert Mugabe embarked on the seizure of white-owned commercial farms to resettle landless blacks.

India seals deals to export 60,000 T sugar to Iran
NEW DELHI, March 19 (Reuters) - Indian traders have struck deals to export 60,000 tonnes of raw sugar to Iran for March-April delivery, three trade sources said on Monday, marking their first sales of the sweetener to Tehran since western sanctions were tightened at the start of 2012.
The exports are within the ceiling of two million tonnes of sales already allowed by New Delhi under the open general licence (OGL) scheme.

Brent falls near $125 on Libyan supply, China fuel hike
SINGAPORE, March 20 (Reuters) - Brent crude fell towards $125 a barrel as global supply concerns eased and a hike in Chinese fuel prices sparked fears of lower energy demand in the world's no.2 oil consumer.
"The move might sap demand growth. Higher prices tend to discourage wasteful consumption," said Gordon Kwan, head of energy research at Mirae Asset Management in Hong Kong.

Copper slips on low China buys; Greek boost fades
SINGAPORE, March 20 (Reuters) - London copper turned negative as support began to fade from an orderly auction of Greek default insurance that boosted the euro, while bleak demand expectations from Chinese copper consumers discouraged buys.
"In the last week copper prices have stabilized around $8,500 a tonne, but it's really moving nowhere and facing strong overhead resistance," she said.

India's NALCO puts out export tender for 6,000T aluminum
BHUBANESWAR, India, March 20 (Reuters) - India's state-run National Aluminium Co (NALCO) has issued a tender to export 3,000 tonnes each of aluminium ingots and aluminium sows, Ansuman Das, commercial director at NALCO, said on Tuesday.
The last date for submission of bids is March 26. The metals would be shipped in batches from April to June, he told Reuters.

Glencore says Philippine copper unit to restart mid-yr
MANILA, March 20 (Reuters) - The Philippines' only copper smelter and refinery owned by a unit of Glencore International  will resume copper processing by around middle of this year, six months after a fire halted its operations, a company official said on Tuesday.
Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corp (PASAR), majority owned by Swiss commodities giant Glencore, shut in January after a fire razed its facility in the central Leyte province, destroying anti-pollution devices.

US sets duties on steel wheels from China
WASHINGTON, March 19 (Reuters) - The United States on Monday set large punitive duties on imports of steel wheels from China that it said were unfairly priced and subsidized, in the latest sign of trade tension between the world's two biggest economies.
The U.S. Commerce Department said Chinese producers were selling the steel wheels at prices 44.96 percent to 193.54 percent below fair value.  

BHP Billiton sees China iron ore demand flattening
PERTH, March 20 (Reuters) - Australian iron ore miners, key beneficiaries of China's modern-day industrial revolution, on Tuesday signaled demand growth was finally slowing in response to Beijing's moves to cool its economy.
BHP Billiton , the world's biggest miner, said it was seeing signs of "flattening" iron ore demand from China, though for now it was pushing ahead with ambitious plans to expand production.

Australia imposes mining tax after two-year battle
CANBERRA, March 19 (Reuters) - Australia's parliament passed laws for a new 30 percent tax on iron ore and coal mine profits on Monday after a bruising two-year battle with mining companies, in a major victory for Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her struggling minority government.
The tax will affect about 30 companies, including global miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata, and aims to raise about A$10.6 billion ($11.2 billion) in its first three years.

Gold edges down, positive US outlook dents demand
SINGAPORE, March 20 (Reuters) - Gold edged lower as a brightened U.S. economic outlook dented its safe-haven appeal, while a buoyant equity market also prompted investors to take money out of bullion.
"Investors are looking at other investment options, as they are less concerned about economic growth and more wanting to hop on the equity rally, which clearly works against some of the reasons why people buy gold," said Jeremy Friesen, commodity strategist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong.

 METALS-Copper slips on low China buys; Greek boost fades
SINGAPORE, March 20 (Reuters) - London copper turned negative on Tuesday as support began to fade from an orderly auction of Greek default insurance that boosted the euro, while bleak demand expectations from Chinese copper consumers discouraged buys.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange  fell 0.41 percent to $8,535 per tonne by 0314 GMT, having taken aim at $8,600 earlier in the session.

PRECIOUS-Gold edges down, positive US outlook dents demand
SINGAPORE, March 20 (Reuters) - Gold edged lower on Tuesday as a brightened U.S. economic outlook dented its safe-haven appeal, while a buoyant equity market also prompted investors to take money out of bullion.
The expectations of further monetary easing worldwide amid a sluggish growth outlook had boosted investment in gold as a hedge against inflation, sending cash gold prices up as much as 14 percent this year to near $1,800 an ounce.

Pollution the big barrier to freer trade in rare earths
BEIJING/SYDNEY, March 19 (Reuters) - Tackling pollution, not freeing up trade, is regarded as the solution to a global shortage of rare earths, the metals that are the building blocks of the 21st century.
The United States, Europe and Japan have lodged a formal trade complaint against China, the world's monopoly supplier of  rare earths, accusing it of choking exports of the metals, used in advanced technologies from computer screens to hybrid cars.

20120320 1137 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares inch up after US gains, dollar eases
SINGAPORE, March 20 (Reuters) - The dollar fell on Tuesday as easing fears about the threat posed to the euro zone by Greece diminished the U.S. currency's safe-haven appeal, while Asian shares crept higher following a rally on Wall Street.
"There has been an unwinding of short euro positions because the reasons for holding those positions have not materialised," said Douglas Borthwick, managing director of FX broker Faros Trading in Stamford, Connecticut.

COMMODITIES-Weak dollar drives broad rise; wheat dives
NEW YORK, March 19 (Reuters) - U.S. oil prices rose for a second straight session on Monday as a weak dollar provided an inflationary boost to a number of commodities. Wheat bucked the trend, tumbling on weather concerns.
"Iran as a supply risk is supporting prices and weaker demand, rising production and physical oversupply is weighing on prices, so it is keeping prices rather stable in this narrow range," said Carsten Fritsch, commodity analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

OIL-Brent dips, US oil rises on refinery problems
NEW YORK, March 19 (Reuters) - Brent crude prices edged lower on M onday on rising output from Saudi Arabia and Libya, while refinery problems helped push U.S. crude higher.
"Support off of broad based macroeconomic factors was again in evidence as the U.S. stock market is adding to recent gains and the euro was able to push higher," Jim Ritterbusch, president at Ritterbusch & Associates, said in a note.

Sudan eyes up to $1.5 bln with pipeline-backed sukuk
KHARTOUM, March 19 (Reuters) - Sudan aims to raise $1 billion to $1.5 billion this year with Islamic "sukuk" bonds that offer stakes in an oil pipeline, a move the African country hopes will draw more Gulf Arab investment to its debt market, a senior official said on Monday.
Sudan Financial Services Co., which issues Islamic bonds on behalf of the government, wants to offer the dollar-denominated sukuk within two months, General Manager Azhari Eltayeb Elfaki told Reuters.

NATURAL GAS-US natural gas ends up for 2nd day, more shorts cover
NEW YORK, March 19 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures ended slightly higher on Monday for a second day, with shorts again covering on signs of technical support after prices held relatively steady last week despite mostly bearish fundamentals.
"Prices at these levels are probably a good opportunity for shorts to cover or end users to buy, but there are also some supportive fundamental factors," said Eric Bickel, analyst at Summit energy in Kentucky.

EURO COAL-Coal seeks direction, China looks bearish
LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - Prices of prompt physical coal were largely unchanged on Monday as it struggled to find direction from its own fundamentals or from other markets, traders and utilities said.
"It's been illiquid, no demand for the front months but no real appetite to sell it either, and no direction from oil, currency or power today," one utility source said

20120316 1014 Global Economy Related News.

Thailand: May hold rates as Asia gauges risks from China to oil
Thailand and Taiwan may keep interest rates unchanged this week as Asian policy makers gauge the extent of a growth slowdown in China that’s adding to challenges posed by the European crisis and rising oil prices. Thailand will hold its benchmark one-day bond repurchase rate at 3% today, according to 19 of 21 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, with two predicting a third consecutive cut to 2.75%. Taiwan may leave the discount rate on 10-day loans to banks at 1.875% on March 22, all 10 economists in a separate survey said. (Bloomberg)

Australia: Passes 30% tax on iron-ore, coal mining profits
Australia passed legislation that will reap about USD11bn in taxes within three years from BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), Rio Tinto Group and other iron-ore and coal miners as the government seeks to turn its budget to surplus. Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Minerals Resource Rent Tax was passed in the upper house yesterday and will become law on 1 July after receiving backing from the ruling Labor party and the Greens, who hold the balance of power in the Senate. (Bloomberg)

China Increases Fuel Prices Second Time in Two Months
China, the world’s largest oil consumer after the U.S., increased gasoline and diesel prices for the second time in less than six weeks after crude had its biggest monthly gain in a year. Prices gain by 600 yuan ($95) a metric ton starting today, after the three crude grades tracked by the National Development and Reform Commission climbed more than 10 percent, according to a statement on the planning agency’s website yesterday evening.(Bloomberg)

India: seeking to tax overseas transactions to limit claims
India will claim capital gains tax on cross-border acquisitions completed in the past six years through an amendment after Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) won a case against such levies, according to Finance Secretary R.S. Gujral. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on 16 March proposed changing the law two months after the Supreme Court ruled that Vodafone doesn’t have to pay USD2.2bn in tax on its purchase of the local business of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd in 2007. (Bloomberg)

U.S. Stocks Gain as Apple Rallies While Treasuries Slump (Bloomberg)
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.4 percent to close at an almost four-year high of 1,409.75 at 4 p.m. in New York, extending its best first-quarter rally since 1998, while the S&P 600 Small Cap Index jumped 0.9 percent to a record and the Nasdaq Composite Index closed at an 11-year high.

US: Homebuilder confidence holds at highest since 2007
Confidence among US homebuilders held in March at the highest level since June 2007 as sales expectations climbed for a sixth month. The reading of 28 in the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of builder confidence was less than projected and followed a February figure that was lower than initially reported, figures from the Washington-based group showed yesterday. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a rise to 30. Readings below 50 mean more respondents said conditions were poor. (Bloomberg)

US: Geithner’s bid to recoup TARP gets boost from stress tests
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is getting a boost from the Federal Reserve as he seeks to recoup taxpayer money used to bail out banks during the financial crisis. Regions Financial Corp. (RF) and Zions Bancorporation (ZION) last week said they plan to repay money they received through the Troubled Asset Relief Program after passing Fed stress tests. The tests, designed to ensure that the largest US banks could withstand another severe recession, indicate that that the two lenders are strong enough to repay TARP. (Bloomberg)

20120320 0959 Malaysia Corporate Related News.

Felda Global set for aggressive expansion
Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd will aggressively expand its business to become a fully integrated oils and  fats player from upstream to downstream. Senior vice-president (oils and fats) Martin Rushworth, said one of  the ways is to find a strategic global partner to help Felda’s business move across the entire supply chain. The  spectrum starts from planting oil palm, selling crude palm oil, refining, refraction as well as selling value-added products such as palm stearin, cooking oil, margarine, bakery fats and industrial fats. (Source: Business Times)

Indonesian tycoon plans reverse takeover of KeyWest
Yanki Regan, Indonesia’s multi-level marketing (MLM) magnate, plans to take control of Key West Global Telecommunications Bhd (KeyWest), bankers helping broker the deal said yesterday. Business Times understands that KN Kenanga Bhd is helping to structure the deal in which Yanki and people aligned to him will initiate a reverse takeover of KeyWest. Malaysia-born Yanki helped build PT Citra Nusa Insan Cemerlang (CNI) some 27 years ago to become the second largest MLM company in Indonesia. (Source: Business Times)

RCI receives conditional takeover offer
Rock Chemical Industries (Malaysia) Bhd (RCI) received a conditional takeover offer from Mega First Corp Bhd, Authentic Excellence Sdn Bhd and Geo-Mobile Asia Sdn Bhd to acquire all the remaining shares in RCI that they do not already own for RM2.10 apiece. The offer is a 20 per cent premium over RCI’s last traded price of RM1.75 on March 16. (Source: Business Times)

Hap Seng to sell Sepang plantation land
Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd (HSCB) has announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Hap Seng Land Sdn Bhd, intends to dispose of two pieces of freehold plantation land in Sepang to Eighty Illusions Sdn Bhd for RM 46.065 million. The proposed disposal is expected to provide a net gain of about RM38.4 million to the HSCB Group. The proposed disposal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2012.  (Source: Business Times)

KrisAssets’s malls worth RM4.6b
The keen anticipated real estate investment trust (REIT) offering by IGB Corp Bhd could fetch valuations of between RM4.3 billion and RM4.6 billion for two prime retail malls currently held under IGB’s subsidiary KrisAssets Holdings Bhd, sources said. Sources said the deal is structured on a capitalization rate of 5.3%. (Source: The Edge)

NY casino licence race hots up for Genting
The race for a casino licence in New York is heating up for Genting group after lawmakers last week agreed to amend the state constitution to allow up to seven casino operators in the US state. Genting aside, other wellfinanced groups vying for a licence include the big boy Las Vegas operators and Indian tribal groups, all of whom have hired their own army of lobbyists and consultants to boost their chances. (Source: The Edge)

Silver Bird sees no impact
The termination of distributorship for Maxis's prepaid cards would not have any material financial impact on Silver Bird Group, the company said. "Subject to the outcome of the forensic accountants, to the best of knowledge of the special committee, the termination of the distribution agreement is not expected to have any material impact on the group in terms of earnings per share," the breadmaker said in a Bursa Malaysia filing yesterday. The termination was effective 15 March. (StarBiz)

Telekom plans 'to go back to basics'
Telekom Malaysia (TM) will go back to basics when it comes to competing against rivals and maintaining its lead in the broadband market. TM, one of the first companies to offer high-speed broadband in a big way, currently faces direct competition from several players, including Maxis, the country's largest mobile operator, and Time Dotcom. Players like REDtone and P1 will be offering fibre broadband services to customers - via TM's own network. The company plans to aggressively pursue the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) market. TM currently has 300,000 Unifi customers. Of those, 10% or 30,000 customers, are SMEs. (BT)

Khamil is Proton's new executive chairman
DRB-Hicom group managing director Datuk Mohd Khamil Jamil has been appointed the new executive chairman of Proton Holding, following the resignation of Datuk Seri Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh last week. In a statement to Bursa Malaysia yesterday, Proton said Khamil's appointment was made upon the completion of Proton’s takeover by DRB-Hicom on 16 March. The appointment follows a number of internal changes within DRB-Hicom, which was seen to be positioning the group for its "integration" with Proton. (Financial Daily)

IRDA eyes at least RM20bn in annual investment
The Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) has targeted to achieve at least RM20bn in committed investment annually until 2018, and at least RM25bn a year from 2019 to 2025, in order for it to achieve a cumulative RM383bn in committed investments in Iskandar Malaysia by 2025. Since inception, the region has received a total of RM84.9bn worth of committed investments, mainly from tourism, education and healthcare services sectors. Chief executive Ismail Ibrahim said IRDA will focus on three more sectors in the manufacturing sector - agro and food processing, oil and gas and electrical and electronics sector - in addition to the financial services sector. (Financial Daily)

KrisAssets’ malls worth RM4.6bn
The keenly anticipated real estate investment trust (REIT) offering by IGB Corp could fetch valuations of between RM4.3bn and RM4.6bn for the two prime retail malls currently being held under IGB’s subsidiary KrissAssets Holdings, sources said. Sources said the deal is structured on a capitalisation rate of 5.3%. The valuation is said to have exceeded the management’s earlier expectations of around RM4bn and a capitalisation rate of 5.5%, a source said. The retail REIT is expected to start with two key assets, Mid Valley Megamall and The Gardens Mall, both in the Mid Valley City area developed by IGB. (Financial Daily)

Tasco leases land at PTP
Freight company Tasco has entered into a RM5.4m sub-letting agreement with Pelabuhan Tanjung Pelepas SB (PTP) to sub-lease 217,800 sq ft of land in the Pelepas Free Zone, for a whole sub-lease period of 43 years until 23 March 2055. The land is part of a master leasehold land held by the Johor Port Authority. (Malaysian Reserve)

Malayan Flour sets rights issue at RM0.93
Malayan Flour Mills has fixed the price of its rights share issue at RM0.93 and the exercise price of warrants at RM2.06, according to a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday. The wheat miller with operations in Malaysia and Vietnam said the rights issue price was at a 50.3% discount to current average

Boustead Naval Shipyard gets RM2.06b financing facilities
Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) has obtained facilities of up to RM2.06b, which is part of the overall syndicated facilities of up to RM5.56m. The facilities will be used for by BNS, a subsidiary of Boustead Holdings Bhd, which was awarded a contract by the Malaysian navy for the construction of six second-generation patrol vehicles with combatant capabilities. (The Edge)

Bumi Armada JV in USD100m loan deal
Armada D1 Pte, a venture between Forbes & Co, controlled by billionaire Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry, and Kuala Lumpur-based Bumi Armada Bhd, signed a USD100m loan. (The Star)

Proton names Khamil as new chairman
DRB-Hicom Bhd managing director Datuk Seri Mohd Khamil Jamil will helm Proton Holdings Bhd's leadership as its executive chairman and executive director. Khamil, 56, who has been DRB Hicom managing director since 2006, would immediately replace Datuk Seri Nadzmi Mohd Salleh who had resigned on 16 Mar as part of the terms agreed upon when DRB Hicom acquired Khazanah Nasional Bhd's 42.74% stake in Proton. (The Star)

Makeover offer for Esso Malaysia
San Miguel Corp, a Petron Corp affiliate, submitted a mandatory takeover offer to acquire 35% of Esso Malaysia Bhd. The offer was required after Petron Oil and Gas International Bhd completed the purchase of 65% of Esso Malaysia. (The Star)

MAS, AirAsia: Collaboration part of solution, not problem
MAS chairman, Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof said the collaboration between MAS and AirAsia as well as the share swap between the airlines’ key shareholders, Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Tune Air Sdn Bhd are part of the solution in efforts to turn around MAS and not part of the carrier’s acute financial woes. Meanwhile, Md Noor appealed for MAS’s management team to be given sufficient time to effectively implement its business plan and for the judgement to be based on results delivered. According to him, MAS will undertake key initiatives under its business plan within the next 6 months which involves the strengthening of its revenue management, launching of the regional short-haul premium airline and introducing the new flagship Airbus A380 to its fleet. (Financial Daily)

Parkson Holdings: Subsidiary eyes 18 new stores in Malaysia by 2020
Parkson Retail Asia Ltd (PRA), which operates department stores in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, expects to open as many as 18 new Parkson stores in Malaysia by 2020, in addition to the 37 stores currently. The additional stores would provide the retailer an additional 2.16m sq ft of retail space from a total of 4.2m sq ft now. This expansion is in line with PRA's target of opening at least two stores each year as well as its parent Parkson Holdings Bhd's (PHB) plan to own and manage 10 shopping complexes by 2020. PHB recently announced a RM3bn investment to develop its shopping management business. It targets to open 10 shopping centres under the Festival City brand. PRA's executive director Toh Peng Koon said two Parkson department stores were slated to open this year - in Setia City Mall, Shah Alam, in May and in Nu Sentral, Kuala Lumpur, in the final quarter of this year. He said besides these two, PRA have 3 more confirmed sites that will open over the next two years. Those outlets will be located in Plaza Merdeka in Kuching, KK Times Square in Kota Kinabalu and B8 Mall in Skudai, Johor. On average, each store has a leasing area of between 120,000 sq ft and 150,000 sq ft. (Business Times)

SP Setia: Asks for lower public shareholding
SP Setia, which intends to maintain its listing status, will apply to Bursa Malaysia to request for an acceptance of a lower public shareholding spread given that its majority shareholder, Permodalan Nasional and Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin, now owns 78.95% of the company. According to Paragraph 8.02 of the main market listing requirements, a listed company must ensure that at least 25% of the total listed shares are in the hands of public shareholders. (StarBiz)

Eng Teknologi: Offer price revised lower
The founders and major shareholders of Eng Teknologi Holdings who are in the midst of privatising the hard disk drive component maker, said the takeover offer price has been revised downwards from RM2.50 to RM2.00. In a statement to the exchange on Monday , Eng Teknologi said its founders Datuk Teh Yong Khoon and Low Yeow Siang via private vehicle TYK Capital Sdn Bhd, has proposed to lower the offer price as their financiers were unable to justify the funding for the takeover at RM2.50. The financiers are unable to justify the funding after taking into account Eng Teknologi’s financials considering that its business was affected by the floods in Thailand, according to the company. Eng Teknologi said it will deliberate on TYK’s revised offer. (Financial Daily)

Metronic Global: Parties keen on acquiring MD’s shares
Metronic Global announced Monday that its MD and substantial shareholder, Dr. Ng Tek Che has been approached by parties interested in purchasing part of or all his interest in the company. In a filling with Bursa Malaysia, the company said Ng holds 33.19m shares in the company, representing 5.23% of the total issued and paid-up share capital. (Financial Daily)

Construction: Dana Infra to issue bonds worth RM8bn for MRT project
According to banking sources, Dana Infra Nasional would be issuing bonds worth RM8bn in 2H 2012 to finance the construction of the My Rapid Transit (MRT) project, less than the RM20bn to RM30bn initially expected. Sources added that there is also a likelihood that due to the delay in the bond issuance, the initial bridging loan of RM500m from a consortium of banks to cover early building work would be raised to a couple of billion ringgit so that the MRT project would not suffer any delay. (StarBiz)

Healthcare: At least 17 new private hospitals by 2015
Malaysia could see at least 17 new private hospitals by 2015, with licence to operate some 4,500 beds, involving investments to the tune of RM4.5bn. At least 3 other hospitals have applied to expand its facility and will add another 770 beds. Industry sources say that based on various reports, this would bring the total number of new beds close to 5,300. An industry expert contacted by Business Times, said that the average cost of new hospitals (based on number of beds) is around RM1m, while for extension it is about RM500m. Total investment in private hospitals by 2015 would translate roughly to as much as RM4.8bn, including extending the hospital facility. The Performance Management and Delivery Unit has projected that by 2020, the hospital bed requirement - between 5,000 and 6,000 beds - set to meet both domestic and overseas demand. Of this, 1,900 beds are for foreign patients. (Business Times)

Property: Iskandar Regional Development Authority targets RM20bn investments a year
The Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) has targeted to achieve at least RM20bn in committed investments annually in the Iskandar Malaysia special economic region until 2018. The annual target is part of its overall objective to achieve a cumulative RM383bn in committed investments by 2025. IRDA chief executive Ismail Ibrahim said on Monday that the IRDA would need to attract at least RM25bn of committed investments annually from 2019 until 2025 under the last stage, if it is to achieve the cumulative target of committed investments in Iskandar Malaysia. (Financial Daily)

Economy: Chinese business community less optimistic on 2012
The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCIM) said the Chinese business community is less optimistic about the economic outlook for 2012 but remain cautiously optimistic for 2013. According to its survey on the economic situation in Malaysia for the 2H 2011, 58% of the respondents expressed confidence in the country’s economic performance and business outlook for 2012, down from 65% in 2011. On the other hand, 42% are pessimistic about economic outlook in 2012, an increase from 35% in 2011. (Financial Daily)

Hong Leong Capital: Gets nod for MIMB buy. Hong Leong Capital Bhd has received the approval from the Finance Ministry for its proposed acquisition of the entire equity interest in MIMB Investment Bank Bhd. Hong Leong Capital is buying over MIMB from Hong Leong Bank Bhd. The proposed acquisition is part of an exercise to rationalise the investment banking businesses involving MIMB and Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd (HLIB). The exercise involved a transfer of the entire business, assets and liabilities of HLIB to MIMB. (Source: The Star)

MAS: Firefly to reintroduce fuel surcharge from March 21. In a statement today, Firefly said that a fuel surcharge of RM10 for domestic travel will be imposed for each leg and RM20 for regional routes. It also said that all flight bookings made before March 21 are unaffected. (Source: The EdgeDaily)

MAS: Carriers thrashing out ownership issues on 40 aircraft. Ownership issues on some 40 narrow-bodied aircraft used by Malaysia Airlines and its subsidiary Firefly are currently being negotiated, prior to the launch of the national carrier's new short-haul premium airline. Business Times has learnt that the two carriers are currently talking about which party or parties will take ownership of the Boeing 737-800 and ageing Boeing 737-400. There are currently some 40 narrow-bodied planes of which eight (of the Boeing 737-800) and two Boeing 737-400 belong to Firefly. The rest of these fleet belong to Khazanah Nasional Bhd's subsidiary, Penerbangan Malaysia Bhd (MAS' holding company), which in turn leases the aircraft to MAS. (Source: Business Times)

Kimlun: Wins RM152m contracts. Kimlun Corp Bhd subsidiary Kimlun Sdn Bhd has received two contracts worth a total of RM151.6m for housing projects in Johor Baru. The first contract involved the construction of serviced apartments and ancillary buildings worth RM114.7m from SP Setia Bhd subsidiary Bukit Indah (Johor) Sdn Bhd. The other project is for the construction of 244 houses worth RM36.9m from Keck Seng (M) Bhd with an estimated date of completion of September 2013. (Source: Bursa Malaysia)

REDTONE International Bhd: Eyes government projects worth RM800m. REDTONE International Bhd, a communications solutions provider, is bidding for government projects worth up to RM800m."Over the near to medium term, we see an increasing use of Internet and network by the public sector and we certainly have the solutions and capability to address their needs," said REDtone managing director Datuk Wei Chuan Beng. Wei added that he expected revenue contribution from the public sector to be more "balanced" over the next few years. Currently, contracts from the government and related agencies contribute about 30 per cent of the company's revenue. (Source: Business Times)  

20120320 0948 Global Market Related News.

Asian Stocks Rise on U.S. Homebuilder Confidence, RBA Comments (Source: Bloomberg)
Asian stocks rose as confidence among U.S. homebuilders added to signs the world’s biggest economy is strengthening and as the Reserve Bank of Australia said it saw saw less downside risk when it kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged this month. Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), Asia’s biggest consumer- electronics maker, gained 1 percent in Seoul. LG Display Co., a manufacturer of liquid crystal displays that gets about 16 percent of its sales from the U.S., rose 2.4 percent. National Australia Bank Ltd., the nation’s fourth-largest lender, added 0.3 percent after a gauge of leading economic indicators improved in January. “This rally is not over yet,” said Prasad Patkar, who helps manage about $1 billion at Platypus Asset Management Ltd. in Sydney. “Things are looking a lot better. Employment and housing in the U.S. are starting to show improvements. This pickup in momentum might have legs.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index (MXAPJ) gained 0.1 percent to 445.50 as of 8:46 a.m. in Hong Kong. The gauge climbed 13 percent this year through yesterday as positive economic reports from the U.S. boosted the outlook for the region’s exporters.

Shares hold near highs on recovery hopes
LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - World share markets stayed within touching distance of near eight-month highs while the euro and yen were steady against the dollar on Monday as markets took a breather after recent sharp gains.
"We expect risky assets to continue to hold their own, but given the lingering uncertainties, we prefer to remain close to the beneficiaries of a strong U.S. economy," Barclays Capital analysts said in a note.
S&P 500 Rises to Four-Year High as Apple Plans Dividend (Source: Bloomberg)
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) advanced to the highest level since May 2008 as Apple Inc. plans to pay a dividend and buy back $10 billion of its stock. Apple climbed 2.7 percent to a record $601.10. Citigroup (C) Inc. advanced 1.3 percent after selling its 2.71 percent stake in Shanghai Pudong Development Bank. U.S. Steel (X) Corp. rallied 6.4 percent to pace gains in commodity shares. United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) increased 3.4 percent after agreeing to buy TNT Express NV. Bank of America Corp. retreated 2.8 percent, reversing an earlier advance that drove the stock above $10.
The S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent to 1,409.75 at 4 p.m. New York time, trading 9.9 percent below its October 2007 record of 1,565.15. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 6.51 points, or 0.1 percent, to 13,239.13. The Nasdaq Composite Index (CCMP) gained 0.8 percent to 3,078.32, the highest level since November 2000. The S&P Smallcap 600 Index (SML) increased 0.9 percent to an all-time high of 465.97. About 6.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, almost in line with its three-month average.

European Stocks Are Little Changed Near Eight-Month High (Source: Bloomberg)
European (SXXP) stocks were little changed after last week’s biggest advance for the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index since early February. Standard Life Plc and DSV (DSV) A/S paced declining shares after analysts downgraded the companies. Misys Plc (MSY) rallied 7.4 percent after Vista Equity Partners agreed to buy the company for 1.3 billion pounds ($2.1 billion). Greek banks climbed as corporate bond risk fell in Europe. The Stoxx 600 (SXXP) slid 0.1 percent to 272.07 at the close in London, following last week’s 2.6 percent advance. The gauge rose to its highest level since July last week as data from Germany to the U.S. indicated global growth is gaining momentum and the Federal Reserve raised its assessment of the world’s largest economy.
The market is “getting very high, possibly running out of oxygen as it were. Some of the tactical indicators are beginning to look quite weak,” Michael O’Sullivan, head of portfolio strategy at Credit Suisse Private Banking said on Bloomberg Television. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of correction over the next couple of weeks.”

Emerging Stocks Slip Third Day as China Homes Drop Curbs Outlook (Source: Bloomberg)
Emerging-market stocks slid for a third day, led by property developer Poly (Hong Kong) Investments Ltd., as the worst month for Chinese home prices since at least 2011 bolstered global slowdown concerns. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index (MXEF) slid 0.2 percent to 1,061.31 at the close in New York, as energy producers and telecommunications companies dropped. Moscow-based OAO Gazprom (GAZP), the world’s biggest gas producer, slumped to a one-month low as Russia’s Micex Index (INDEXCF) had the largest decline in almost two weeks. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world’s biggest lender by market value, fell 1.5 percent, as lenders and developers led the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (HSCEI) lower for the fourth day. Brazil’s Bovespa Index (IBOV) advanced for the first time in four days.
New home prices in China fell in 27 of 70 cities in February from a year earlier and prices were unchanged in six, government data showed yesterday, the worst performance since officials began releasing data for individual cities at the start of 2011. Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, also warned of slowing growth in emerging markets in a March 18 speech in Beijing.

China’s Stocks Advance to One-Week High; Shale Gas Shares Climb (Source: Bloomberg)
China’s stocks rose, driving the benchmark index to a one-week high, after International Monetary Fund official Zhu Min said China will avoid an economic hard- landing as investment remains strong. Kingdream Public Ltd. (000825), whose businesses include gas distribution, jumped 10 percent after the government said it will boost development of the shale gas industry. Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth Hi-Tech Co. advanced 4.3 percent, pacing a rally for producers of rare earth. China Vanke Co. (000002) and Poly Real Estate Group Co. led property developers to the biggest decline among industry groups in the Shanghai Composite Index after home prices posted the worst performance in a year. “The government has the tools to offset a decline in economic growth such as monetary policy or measures targeting specific industries,” said Wu Kan, a Shanghai-based fund manager at Dazhong Insurance Co., which oversees $285 million. “The property market is still the biggest risk the economy is facing now.”

Japanese Stocks Gain as Trading Companies Climb in Tokyo (Source: Bloomberg)
Japanese stocks rose, with the Nikkei 225 Stock Average recording its highest close since last year’s earthquake, as trading companies gained on higher crude prices. Utilities fell after Citigroup Inc. reduced its recommendation on the companies. Mitsui & Co. (8031), a trading house that counts commodities as its major source of profit, increased 0.9 percent. Fanuc Corp., an industrial robot maker, rose 2 percent after Citigroup boosted its share-price estimate on the outlook for higher demand. It was the biggest contributor to the Nikkei’s advance. Kansai Electric Power Co. slumped 4.2 percent after Citigroup cut its rating on the stock and broadcaster NHK reported Osaka City may urge the utility to abolish nuclear reactors.
“What we’re seeing is a return to more buoyant growth taking away the impact of negative growth from the nuclear crisis around this time last year,” said Tim Schroeders, who helps manage $1 billion in equities at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne. “Very significant tailwinds are helping share prices move higher in the Japanese market.” The Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) rose 0.1 percent to 10,141.99 as of the 3 p.m. Tokyo-market close. The Nikkei is about 1 percent away from its closing price on March 11 last year, when the magnitude-9 earthquake struck at 2:46 p.m., sparking a sell- off minutes before the end of trading.

Treasury 10-Year Futures Fall Before U.S. Housing Starts (Source: Bloomberg)
Treasury 10-year futures contracts fell to the least since October before a government report that economists said will show homebuilding in the U.S. climbed to a three-month high. Ten-year notes dropped for a ninth day yesterday, the longest stretch since June 2006, as investors bet a strengthening economy will diminish the refuge appeal of U.S. government securities. Financial markets were closed in Japan today for a national holiday. “The data have been getting better,” said Roger Bridges, who oversees the equivalent of $15.9 billion of debt as the Sydney-based head of fixed income at Tyndall Investment Management Ltd., a unit of Nikko Asset Management Co. in Japan. “U.S. 10-year notes still look expensive.” Ten-year Treasury futures contracts for June delivery declined 1/32, or 31 cents per $1,000 face amount, to 127 29/32 as of 8:58 a.m. in Singapore. They were as low as 127 25/32, a level not seen since Oct. 28.
Housing starts rose to a 700,000 annual rate last month from a 699,000 pace in January, according to the median estimate of 80 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. It would be the strongest reading since November’s three-year high of 702,000.

FOREX-Yen on the back foot, hits five-mth lows vs euro
SYDNEY/SINGAPORE, March 19 (Reuters) - The yen stayed on the defensive with the euro reaching a fresh five-month high against the Japanese currency, while the dollar nursed losses following a setback late last week.      
"I don't think we will see any sudden move toward yen strength for a while, but we could see the market swing back a bit," the trader said, adding that March was typically a month that attracts some Japanese corporate demand for yen ahead of Japan's business year-end at the end of the month.  

Dollar Near One-Week Low Versus Euro Before Fed Bernanke (Source: Bloomberg)
The dollar traded within 0.2 percent of its lowest in a week against the euro on speculation Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will reiterate today that a slow U.S. recovery warrants near-zero interest rates. The greenback remained lower after yesterday falling versus 15 of 16 major peers after gains in U.S. stocks boosted demand for higher-yielding assets. The euro neared a four-month high against the yen before reports this week forecast to show German services and factory output grew in March. Australia’s dollar approached a 10-month high against the yen after minutes showed the Reserve Bank left rates unchanged this month after seeing “somewhat less” downside risk to the economy. “The Fed is not going to change their recent rhetoric on the economy and they’re going to still characterize the recovery as somewhat tepid,” said Andrew Salter, a strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ) in Sydney. “The long-term trend that’s in place is U.S. dollar weakness.”
The dollar was at $1.3242 per euro as of 9:16 a.m. in Singapore from $1.3238 in New York yesterday, when it fell as low as $1.3266, the least since March 9. It fetched 83.35 yen from 83.35. The euro bought 110.38 yen from 110.34 after rising as high as 110.57 yesterday, the most since Oct. 31.

Bernanke Seen Not Knowing Jobless Rate Below Fed Forecasts (Source: Bloomberg)
David Waldrop, 59, says he considers himself retired after searching unsuccessfully for work comparable to the job he lost in July 2007 at the U.S. Department of Energy in Atlanta. “There was certainly nothing in my area at my level,” he said. While the right opening might pull him back to employment, for now he sees his exit from the U.S. labor force as permanent. “I don’t see it happening,” he said. “I don’t see anything offering opportunities.” Waldrop is one of millions who have dropped out of the labor market in the aftermath of the deepest recession since the Great Depression, causing the employment-to-population ratio to fall to 58.6 percent from 62.7 percent at the end of 2007. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke says the decline reflects weakness in the economy that’s causing discouraged Americans to leave the workforce, bolstering his decision to add to his record monetary stimulus in January.
Economists at Barclays Capital, UBS AG and Moody’s Corp. disagree. They say the percentage of people aged 16 and older with jobs is shrinking permanently because of a structural shift as baby boomers like Waldrop retire. This will contribute to the jobless rate falling to 7.8 percent by December, below the Fed’s prediction of 8.2 percent to 8.5 percent, according to Drew Matus, senior U.S. economist at UBS and Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays.

Homebuilder Confidence in U.S. Holds at Highest Since 2007 (Source: Bloomberg)
Confidence among U.S. homebuilders held in March at the highest level since June 2007 as sales expectations climbed for a sixth month. The reading of 28 in the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of builder confidence was less than projected and followed a February figure that was lower than initially reported, figures from the Washington-based group showed today. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a rise to 30. Readings below 50 mean more respondents said conditions were poor. Cheaper homes and mortgage rates close to all-time lows are helping drive record housing affordability, benefiting builders such as Toll Brothers Inc. At the same time, the real estate market remains challenged by distressed properties and the threat of more foreclosures that could push down values further.
“While builders are still very cautious at this time, there is a sense that many local housing markets have started to move in the right direction and that prospects for future sales are improving,” Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a builder from Gainesville, Florida, said today in a statement.

Geithner’s Bid to Recoup TARP Gets Boost From Stress Tests (Source: Bloomberg)
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is getting a boost from the Federal Reserve as he seeks to recoup taxpayer money used to bail out banks during the financial crisis. Regions Financial Corp. (RF) and Zions Bancorporation (ZION) last week said they plan to repay money they received through the Troubled Asset Relief Program after passing Fed stress tests. The tests, designed to ensure that the largest U.S. banks could withstand another severe recession, indicate that that the two lenders are strong enough to repay TARP. The Treasury is trying to unwind the biggest chunks of TARP as President Barack Obama gears up for his re-election campaign. The public outcry over bailouts in 2008 and 2009 remains part of the political debate. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who was against bailouts, has criticized rival Mitt Romney for supporting aid to banks while opposing help for automakers.
“The administration needs to clean this out,” said Clifford Rossi, a former managing director of Citigroup Inc. (C)’s consumer lending group and a University of Maryland professor of business. “Now with the stress test release, this is a good time to pull the trigger.”

Fed’s Dudley Says U.S. Isn’t ‘Out of the Woods’: Economy (Source: Bloomberg)
Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William C. Dudley said signs the economy is improving don’t dispel risks to growth that include higher gasoline prices, fiscal cutbacks and a weak housing market. “The incoming data on the U.S. economy has been a bit more upbeat of late, suggesting that the recovery may be getting better established,” Dudley said today in a speech in Melville, New York. “But, while these developments are certainly encouraging, it is far too soon to conclude that we are out of the woods in terms of generating a strong, sustainable recovery.” Dudley’s comments elaborated on a March 13 statement by the Federal Open Market Committee, which noted that unemployment has declined while remaining “elevated.” Dudley, FOMC vice chairman, said the economy has shown signs of strength partly because of inventory building and unseasonably warm weather. Responding to an audience question, he said “nothing has been decided” about more bond-buying by the Fed to spur growth.
The New York Fed chief’s comments “reiterate a very dovish position among the leaders of the FOMC, those setting the policy agenda,” said Eric Green, chief economist at TD Securities Inc. in New York and a former economist at the New York Fed. The speech is “consistent with the FOMC statement last week, but must also be seen as being more dovish, couching progress on the economic front with uncertainty,” he said.

Thailand May Hold Rates as Asia Gauges Risks From China to Oil (Source: Bloomberg)
Thailand and Taiwan may keep interest rates unchanged this week as Asian policy makers gauge the extent of a growth slowdown in China that’s adding to challenges posed by the European crisis and rising oil prices. Thailand will hold its benchmark one-day bond repurchase rate at 3 percent tomorrow, according to 19 of 21 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, with two predicting a third consecutive cut to 2.75 percent. Taiwan may leave the discount rate on 10-day loans to banks at 1.875 percent on March 22, all 10 economists in a separate survey said. Central banks from Australia to South Korea refrained from cutting rates this month as higher energy costs boosted inflation risks, reducing the scope for monetary stimulus to counter a Chinese slowdown and Europe’s slump. International Monetary Fund Deputy Managing Director Zhu Min said yesterday that China is “heading for a soft landing,” while a report last week showed an improving U.S. labor market.
“Regional central banks mostly are still in this wait-and- see mode,” said Sylvia Chiu, an economist at SinoPac Financial Holdings Co. in Taipei. “Although the economic outlook is getting better as the U.S. economy is slowly coming out of the woods, it’s still uncertain whether it’s strong enough to drive a rebound in exports in Asia.”

RBA Saw Less Downside Risk in March Rate Pause: Minutes (Source: Bloomberg)
Australia’s central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged this month as the nation’s mining investment boom intensified and risks from Europe’s debt crisis eased, minutes of its March 6 meeting showed. “Members noted that while this downside risk could still materialize, this seemed somewhat less likely than a few months ago,” the minutes released today by the Sydney-based Reserve Bank of Australia showed. “So long as inflation remained well contained, there would be ample scope for the bank to ease policy in such a scenario.” The decision to hold the benchmark rate for a second month at 4.25 percent reflects optimism European leaders will contain the region’s fiscal crisis amid signs of improvement in the global economy. RBA Governor Glenn Stevens and his board reduced borrowing costs twice late last year as employment stagnated and asset prices declined even as resource investment surged and the currency strengthened.
Policy makers noted in the minutes that the local dollar rose during the month to about the highest level in trade- weighted terms since 1985 and that the appreciation is driving “significant structural adjustment” in the economy.

Spain Torments Draghi on Deficit as Banks Tap Loans: Euro Credit (Source: Bloomberg)
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy may be enjoying the European Central Bank’s emergency funds too much for Mario Draghi’s comfort. Rajoy’s loosening of a pledge to cut Spain’s deficit within days of the central bank’s latest three-year loan offering to banks has confronted the ECB president with just the behavior it wants to avoid. ECB officials are concerned the respite they have won for the region’s most vulnerable nations has eased pressure on them to address the budget shortfalls that first provoked the turmoil. “There’s a moral hazard element to this,” Ken Wattret, chief European economist at BNP Paribas SA in London, said in a telephone interview. “The ECB is clearly worried that in some countries the lower the risk premium on sovereign debt, the less urgency there will be to make some changes.”
Spanish 10-year borrowing costs have fallen 63 basis points to 5.19 percent since the ECB’s measures were announced in December, providing what Rajoy described as a “great relief” as Spanish lenders’ central-bank borrowings surged to record levels. His defiance on the deficit presents the ECB with the same quandary it faced last year, when former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi’s government backpedalled on austerity pledged in return for ECB purchases of the nation’s bonds.

Monti to Meet Labor Unions Amid Fresh Warning on Crisis (Source: Bloomberg)
Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti will press ahead with efforts to revise the country’s labor laws this week, amid fresh warnings that the three-year-old European debt crisis is far from over. Monti will lead talks with unions and employers in a final round of negotiations beginning tomorrow as the government seeks an agreement this week. Decision makers meanwhile warned against complacency after delivery of the final element of Greece’s 130 billion-euro ($171 billion) bailout package and the completion of the world’s largest sovereign-debt restructuring last week. “Optimism should not give us a sense of comfort or lull us into a false sense of security,” International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said at the China Development Forum in Beijing yesterday. “We cannot go back to business as usual,” she said, urging vigilance on oil prices, debt and the risk of slowing growth in emerging markets.
An easing of the crisis offered breathing room for Monti to seek an Italian labor-market overhaul and for euro-area ministers aiming to bolster euro bailout funding before a meeting at the end of the month. Still, urgency was underscored by an IMF warning that the Greek bailout held “exceptional risks” that could prompt a “disorderly” exit from the monetary union unless additional help is prepared.

20120320 0948 Global Commodities Related News.

Global Food Price Rally Will Drive Investment, Nestle Says (Source: Bloomberg)
Rising agricultural prices may spur increased investment in research and infrastructure, helping lift farm yields and output to feed a larger and richer global population, according to Nestle SA (NESN), the biggest food company. “Prices are getting to a level that may result in an effect that is positive for food production,” Chief Executive Officer Paul Bulcke said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “People are motivated again to be in agriculture.” Global food prices rose for a second month in February on higher costs for cereals, cooking oils and sugar, according to a 55-item gauge tracked by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. Costs may remain near current levels in the coming months as demand absorbs increased supply, Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior FAO economist, said on March 8.
Food-price volatility has increased as production isn’t growing at the same pace as demand, cutting stockpiles, Bulcke said in Kuala Lumpur. Raw-material costs for Vevey, Switzerland- based Nestle such as coffee and sugar were expected to continue to climb this year, although at a slower pace than 2011, he said.

Corn (Source: CME)
US corn futures end down, pressured by a fall in wheat prices and a stalled rally in Chinese corn prices. Expectations for Chinese demand remain, but corn prices in the country fell slightly overnight after hitting an all-time high Friday, easing optimism among US market participants. Lower USDA weekly export inspection data for corn also weighs. CBOT May corn ends down 9 1/2 cents at $6.63 1/2 a bushel.

Wheat (Source: CME)
US wheat futures end lower, pressured by favorable weather for the winter-wheat crop and Russia saying it won't place any restrictions on grain exports, ending expectations that it might adopt duties to boost domestic supplies. The likely extra competition for US exports weighed on US futures, as did weekly USDA export-inspection figures, which were lower. CBOT May wheat slides 2.9% to $6.52 1/4 a bushel while KCBT May falls 14c to $6.91 1/2 and MGEX May drops 15 3/4c to $8.07.

Rice (Source: CME)
US rice futures end up, with nearby futures climbing to their highest level in nearly two months amid questions about US acreage. Prices top the 100-day moving average for the first time in 4 1/2-months. Worries about low planted acreage in the wake of a months-long swoon in prices underpin the market. US Rice Producers Association also notes that weekly export sales were strong last week. CBOT May rice ends up 7c to $14.60 1/2 per hundredweight.

US old-crop corn at 4-month top on Chinese demand hopes
SINGAPORE, March 19 (Reuters) - U.S. old-crop corn rose for a third straight session to its highest since November on expectations of more Chinese purchases, while soybeans were little changed, taking a breather after climbing to a six-month top.
"U.S. export sales and lower supplies from South America have had supportive influence for the entire oilseeds complex, including the palm oil," said Ker Chung Yang, an analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.

Zimbabwe writes off a third of maize crop, deficit looms
HARARE, March 19 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe faces a huge grain deficit this year after a third of the current maize crop was written off due to a prolonged dry spell, state media reported on Monday.
The southern African country, once a regional bread basket, has struggled to feed itself since 2000 when President Robert Mugabe embarked on the seizure of white-owned commercial farms to resettle landless blacks.

China to import at least 1 mln T rice from Vietnam-paper
HANOI, March 19 (Reuters) - China could import at least 1 million tonnes of rice from Vietnam this year, which would be more than three times its 2011 imports, a senior Vietnam rice industry official was quoted on Monday as saying.
The forecast demand by China represents nearly 14 percent of the record 7.2 million tonnes Vietnam aims to export this year. If Vietnam does sell that much rice, it will overtake Thailand to become the world's largest rice exporter in 2012.

Argentina truck strike imminent, may disrupt corn, soy hauling
BUENOS AIRES, March 18 (Reuters) - Owners of Argentine grain trucks said on Sunday they would start an indefinite strike at midnight (0300 GMT) to seek higher transport rates, a protest that could disrupt hauling during early corn and soy harvesting.
Argentina, one of the world's top exporters of corn, soybeans and soy products, often sees strikes in March, when crop gathering begins and unions seek wage hikes.

US Corn Belt farmers resisting the urge to plant early
CHICAGO, March 16 (Reuters) - Shirt-sleeve weather this week across America's central grain belt tempted farmers to start planting corn early but expensive seeds and worries about insurance covering any sudden cold snap have kept crop planters out of fields.
"We've got a lot invested in this crop. We want to be careful," said central Illinois farmer Tim Seifert, who doesn't want to take the chance of seeing young corn seedlings hurt by an April frost.

Early-planted Argentine corn hit by Dec-Jan drought
BUENOS AIRES, March 16 (Reuters) - Early-planted corn in global No. 2 exporter Argentina was pummeled by a December-January drought, but later-seeded fields have since been enlivened by regular rains, the government said on Friday.
Dry, hot weather that blighted the Pampas during the dog days of the Southern Hemisphere summer chopped corn yields by 40 percent in the Bragado district of key agricultural province Buenos Aires, the Agriculture Ministry said in a report.

Italy 2011 maize imports jump, soft wheat up-Anacer
MILAN, March 16 (Reuters) - Imports of maize into Italy, a major grain buyer in Europe, surged 25.3 percent year on year in 2011 while imports of soft wheat rose 4.6 percent, Italian cereals body Anacer said on Friday.
Italy's maize imports jumped to 2,604,464 tonnes last year from 2,078,067 tonnes in 2010, while soft wheat imports rose to 5,039,884 tonnes last year from 4,816,234 tonnes in 2010, Anacer said in a statement without explaining the data.

India's Oct. 1-March 15 sugar output up 14 pct y/y-industry
NEW DELHI, March 19 (Reuters) - Indian sugar mills produced 21.2 million tonnes of the sweetener between Oct. 1 and March 15, up 14 percent from a year earlier, a statement from a leading industry body said on Monday.
Output in top producing Maharashtra state was pegged at 7.3 million tonnes, up 13 percent from 2011/12, while second-biggest producer Uttar Pradesh churned out 6.0 million tonnes, about 13 percent more than the previous year, the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said.

Thai rubber intervention buying starts, slowly
BANGKOK, March 19 (Reuters) - A rubber intervention programme has started in Thailand aimed at supporting prices to help farmers but not much has been bought so far, so the impact on the market has been minimal, government officials and rubber cooperatives said on Monday.
The government approved a 15 billion baht ($488 million)budget in January to buy unsmoked sheet (USS3) from farmers at 120 baht per kg to prop up prices. The buying is to be done through cooperatives.

Sudan sugar maker Kenana plans Hong Kong IPO
KHARTOUM, March 18 (Reuters) - Kenana, Sudan's biggest sugar company, is planning to raise $200 million listing a quarter of its shares in Hong Kong in December, to finance new projects.
Kenana wants to more than double output to over 1 million tonnes annually and establish itself as a major exporter, managing director Mohamed El Mardi told Reuters in an interview.

China To Offer More Subsidies To Produce Grain To Offset Rising Oil Prices -Premier Wen (Source: CME)
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the government will offer farmers more subsidies for grain production if oil prices rise further. Wen said over the weekend that the agricultural subsidies will be increased gradually. He made the comments during an inspection tour of central China's Henan province, China's largest wheat-producing area, according to the central government's website. Wen said earlier this month that China aims to spend CNY1.23 trillion ($195 billion) on its agricultural sector this year, up CNY186.8 billion compared with 2011.

Europe's Warm Late Spring, Early Summer Adds To Crop Woes (Source: CME)
Temperatures will average higher than normal across Europe until June, with the exception of the U.K., Iberia and southern parts of the continent in April, Weather Services International said, just as the region's wheat crops are already suffering from prolonged dry conditions. WSI, a private forecaster for professionals in the agriculture, energy and aviation markets and federal and state government agencies, said a lack of North Atlantic "blocking," an atmospheric phenomenon that affects weather patterns, will likely result in warmer temperatures and reverse the prevailing trend experienced since 2008. "As we head into late spring and early summer, we expect a distinctly different pattern than what we've observed over the last four years, [which] should result in greater chances for summer heat in western and northern sections, rather than southern and eastern sections," said Chief Meteorologist Todd Crawford.
Europe's wheat crops face a worrisome weather outlook, with the prospect of drought coming after severe cold weather in January and February. Dry, warm conditions in the wheat areas of Spain, France, and the U.K. are causing concern, with many analysts beginning to lower their expectations for the region's 2012-13 harvests. Agritel said that dry weather on the Iberian Peninsula and some North African countries is being carefully watched and could help exports of French origins to intensify, potentially supporting Paris milling wheat futures. The risk manager added that producers are now busy reseeding in France as spring weather conditions have confirmed significant frost damage in the north and east of the country. Indeed, damage to winter wheat crops has increased across Europe and could cause losses of between 5 million and 6 million metric tons, Offre & Demande Agricole said Friday.
Since the beginning of March some of the eastern regions of France have reported losses of up to 30% of wheat acreage, the risk manager added, meaning the country's decline in production could be much greater than the 5% it previously estimated. However, Commodity Weather Group said France experienced beneficial rains over the weekend and will see some more showers this week, with the main boost coming to the eastern half of Spain. The forecaster added that rain potential is still limited in Morocco and stress to the crop is likely to persist there for the next 10 days, despite some models suggesting spreading rain next week. WSI said that rainfall patterns also should be different in upcoming months. It expects a drier summer in the U.K. and Nordic regions, with wetter weather suppressed farther to the south. Some regions of the U.K. are already in official drought status and the government has asked farmers and water companies to protect increasingly fragile water supplies.
"The real worry this season is that we've had enough rainfall to grow the crops, but historically lower rainfall over the past 18 months, so there isn't an abundant level of moisture in the soil," said, David Eudell, senior analyst for cereals and oilseeds at the U.K.'s Home Grown Cereals Authority. While domestic crops are in an adequate condition at the moment, Eudell added "there is still a very long way to go, and really we're looking through June and into July when the real crop will start to mature for harvest." Eudell said a similar growing season to last year was being experienced, with a very dry spring which caused variable yields throughout the U.K., while central and western areas were generally better equipped as their heavier soils could retain more moisture. "Finally, our forecast also supports less wind across Germany and Denmark and more wind in Spain than we have had the last four summers," WSI's Crawford said.

Russia Rules Out Restrictions On Grain Exports In 2011-12 (Source: CME)
The Russian government said it will not place any restrictions on grain exports as the domestic market situation is stable, finally putting to rest concerns that the country could introduce duties to combat supply shortages caused by record export levels. Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said Russia will not impose any restrictions on the export of grain as the country's carryover stocks and intervention fund will be able to provide all domestic needs. Russia's grain exports surged during the first half of the 2011-12 marketing year, with analysts saying authorities were willing to curtail exports over a set figure around 24 million-25 million metric tons, to ensure domestic supply was met. However, Zubkov said grain exports have reached 22 million metric tons to date and could rise as high as 27 million tons by the end of the year. Zubkov said export companies can easily enter into contracts for April, May and June, with quite high world prices likely to benefit the country's farmers.

Japan Changes US Wheat Import Rules As Cargoes Delayed (Source: CME)
Japan has changed the delivery rules for U.S. wheat in tenders this month due to delays in receiving cargoes but suppliers say the new structure is difficult to implement, can result in penalties, cause cost overheads and push up prices. Japan is one of the world's largest wheat importer, buying all its milling grade requirements from the U.S., Canada and Australia. At a time when Russia has eaten into U.S. share in wheat trade elsewhere, Japan continues to be a captive customer, and its import rules are among the world's most stringent. Japanese government officials told Dow Jones Newswires that they are now seeking few of the U.S. cargoes of wheat with contractual fixed dates of arrival because of earlier instances of delays in delivery. "If cargo arrivals are delayed, we can press for whatever penalties are stipulated in the contract," one of the food ministry officials said without elaborating.
The more common norm in global milling wheat trade is to buy the cargo with dates finalized only for shipment from the port of origin. Once the ship sails on the time stipulated in the contract, the onus of delayed arrival isn't on the exporter. Instead, in one of the recent tenders, Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries sought U.S. wheat for arrival within specific dates in June. However, the matter came to a head with only one of the exporters offering the popular, high protein, U.S. Dark Northern Spring, or DNS grade wheat, government officials and traders said. Japan didn't buy the grade in the tender due the lack of a price comparison, a government official said. In the next tender, Japan sought most U.S. wheat on stipulated shipment date basis but again insisted on two cargoes of DNS grade on arrival date basis. It managed to get the cargoes this time around.
Japan doesn't divulge the prices and sellers in its tenders but traders said the two cargoes with the mandatory date of arrival were sold by Sojitz Corp. and three others on shipment-basis by Itochu. Executives of Sojitz declined to comment and that of Itochu couldn't be immediately reached for comment. Exporters are wary of accepting arrival dates because the duration of a voyage can vary widely due to logistical hassles and unforeseen circumstances, said a Tokyo-based trading executive. Exporters also combine few orders into a single panamax vessel of 55,000 tons-65,000 tons to reduce costs and achieve economies of scale, he said. Earlier, Japan used to import wheat in small vessels at frequent intervals but with global prices rising over the years, government permitted shipments in panamax vessels around late-2010.
However, this has led to logistical problems and delay in larger vessels arriving and getting berths at ports, prompting millers to complain and press the government to insist on mandatory arrival dates. "We will continue to seek wheat based on both arrival and shipment dates, depending on the requirement of the mills regardless of price," the government official in Tokyo said. Exporters said this may jack up prices as they will factor in any potential penalty in their tender bids. Japanese wheat imports are highly regulated and nearly all of it is routed through government tenders.

Philippines Asking WTO To Extend Rice Import Designation For 5 Years (Source: CME)
The Philippines will officially ask the World Trade Organization to extend for five years a classification that allows it to impose restrictions on rice imports, National Food Authority chief Angelito Banayo said. Rice is currently classified under WTO's "QR," or quantitative restrictions, designation, but this is scheduled to expire June 30. The classification allows the Philippines to prevent the entry of rice imports into the country outside of what the government has predetermined. The Philippine mission in Geneva seeks waiver on the deadline, "while we are conducting negotiations with countries interested in QR," Banayo told reporters. According to Banayo, at least eight rice-exporting countries--the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and El Salvador--have said they want to negotiate bilateral conditions with Manila on extending the restrictions.
The Philippines claims and has been granted the QR status based on an intention to give local rice farmers and millers a buffer against any possible influx of cheaper rice imports.

Solar 15% Returns Lure Investments From Google to Buffett (Source: Bloomberg)
U.S. solar developers are luring cash at record rates from investors ranging from Warren Buffett to Google Inc. (GOOG) and KKR & Co. by offering returns on projects four times those available for Treasury securities. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) together with the biggest Internet search company, the private equity company and insurers MetLife Inc. (MET) and John Hancock Life Insurance Co. poured more than $500 million into renewable energy in the last year. That’s the most ever for companies outside the club of banks and specialist lenders that traditionally back solar energy, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data. Once so risky that only government backing could draw private capital, solar projects now are making returns of about 15 percent, according to Stanford University’s center for energy policy and finance. That has attracted a wider community of investors eager to cash in on earnings stronger than those for infrastructure projects from toll roads to pipelines.
“A solar power project with a long-term sales agreement could be viewed as a machine that generates revenue,” said Marty Klepper, an attorney at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, which helped arrange a solar deal for Buffett. “It’s an attractive investment for any firm, not just those in energy.”

Brent crude below $126, holds most gains made on Iran worries
SINGAPORE, March 19 (Reuters) - Brent crude was steady below $126 a barrel, holding onto most of the previous session's gains made on continued concerns over potential supply disruptions from Iran, with the risk of major supply squeeze still being factored in.
"It's a question of whether other producers can handle a significant supply disruption," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

China Increases Fuel Prices Second Time in Two Months (Source: Bloomberg)
China, the world’s largest oil consumer after the U.S., increased gasoline and diesel prices for the second time in less than six weeks after crude had its biggest monthly gain in a year. Prices gain by 600 yuan ($95) a metric ton starting today, after the three crude grades tracked by the National Development and Reform Commission climbed more than 10 percent, according to a statement on the planning agency’s website yesterday evening. Retail gasoline prices will increase as much as 6.6 percent and diesel will be as much as 7.2 percent more expensive, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It’s “crucial” for China to ensure domestic fuel supplies by increasing prices amid the planting season and instability in the Middle East, the NDRC said. Motor fuel will rise by 0.44 yuan a liter and diesel by 0.51 yuan, it said.
China’s biggest refiners, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (386), or Sinopec, and PetroChina Co., have urged the government to increase fuel prices to stem their processing losses amid rising global crude costs. After controlling tariffs last year to curb inflation, the government now has more room to maneuver after consumer prices grew at the slowest pace in 20 months. Fuel charges last increased on Feb. 8, by 300 yuan a ton, the first gain in 10 months.

Oil Drops From Three-Week High on Signs Supplies to Rise (Source: Bloomberg)
Oil dropped from the highest price in almost three weeks in New York on signs U.S. crude stockpiles are rising and speculation Saudi Arabia may boost output. Futures slipped as much as 0.4 percent after gaining for a second day. U.S. inventories climbed to the highest level in six months last week as refineries idled units and imports from Canada increased, according to a Bloomberg News survey before a government report tomorrow. Saudi Arabia’s cabinet will work with oil consumers and producers to restore “fair” prices, according to the state news agency. Oil for April delivery slid as much as 38 cents to $107.71 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $107.78 at 11:05 a.m. Sydney time. It gained 1 percent to $108.09 a barrel yesterday, the highest close since March 1. The April contract expires today. The more actively traded May future fell 33 cents to $108.23 a barrel. Prices are up 9.1 percent this year.
Brent oil for May settlement declined 41 cents to $125.30 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark contract was at a premium of $17.07 to New York futures for the same month.

Brent crude below $126, holds most gains made on Iran worries
SINGAPORE, March 19 (Reuters) - Brent crude was steady below $126 a barrel on Monday, holding onto most of the previous session's gains made on continued concerns over potential supply disruptions from Iran, with the risk of major supply squeeze still being factored in.
Higher output from top exporter Saudi Arabia and plans by Iraq to expand its export routes have, however, tempered fears of a loss of Iranian barrels as the deadline for tougher Western sanctions approaches, analysts said.

Oil India aims to produce 3.95 mln T oil in 2012/13
NEW DELHI, March 19 (Reuters) - State-run Oil India  aims to produce 3.95 million tonnes of crude oil in 2012/13, a senior company official said on Monday.
B.N. Talukdar, director of exploration, also said the company would produce around 3.9 million tonnes in the current financial year that ends on March 31, compared with a target of 3.7 million tonnes.

Gasoline pushes up US inflation, dents confidence
WASHINGTON, March 16 (Reuters) - U.S. consumer prices rose the most in 10 months in February as the cost of gasoline spiked, but there was little sign that underlying inflation pressures were building up.
Surging gasoline prices put a small dent in consumer confidence early this month, other data showed on Friday. Still, Americans do not believe the sharp run-up in prices will last.

Saudi oil sales to US jump; Iran response or just business?
NEW YORK/LONDON, March 16 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia is preparing to extend this year's unexpected jump in oil sales to the United States, adding to speculation about the response of the world's top oil exporter to sanctions against Iran and a rally in prices.
The kingdom's shipments to the United States have quietly risen 25 percent to the highest level since mid-2008, according to preliminary U.S. government data, a sizeable leap that appears at least partly related to the imminent completion of a major expansion at its joint-venture Motiva refinery in Texas.

Australia Passes 30% Tax on Iron-Ore, Coal Mining Profits (Source: Bloomberg)
Australia passed legislation that will reap about $11 billion in taxes within three years from BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), Rio Tinto Group and other iron-ore and coal miners as the government seeks to turn its budget to surplus. Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Minerals Resource Rent Tax was passed in the upper house yesterday and will become law on July 1 after receiving backing from the ruling Labor party and the Greens, who hold the balance of power in the Senate. Passing the legislation is a success for Gillard, whose predecessor Kevin Rudd was ousted amid a campaign by mining companies against a broader 40-percent levy that he initially proposed. Gillard, the country’s first female prime minister, is trying to hold together a minority government that relies on the support of independent and Green party lawmakers.
“It’s a victory for Labor and will help the nation’s bottom line,” said Norman Abjorensen, a political analyst at Australian National University in Canberra. “Most Australians probably believe the big miners can afford to pay more tax.”

Copper Climbs on Bets Gains in U.S. Economy to Bolster Demand (Source: Bloomberg)
Copper rose to the highest closing price in two weeks as signs of economic gains bolstered prospects for metal demand in the U.S., the world’s second- biggest consumer. Government and industry reports this week may show U.S. home purchases climbed in February to the highest in almost two years, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Separate data from the Commerce Department may signal homebuilding increased. The Copper Development Association says that construction accounts for 40 percent of demand. “There’s some euphoria starting to appear about the U.S. economy, and that’s working to support copper,” Sterling Smith, an analyst at Country Hedging in St. Paul, Minnesota, said in a telephone interview. Copper futures for May delivery advanced 0.8 percent to settle at $3.909 a pound at 1:15 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the highest settlement since March 1. The metal has gained 14 percent this year.

Ship Owners Losing After $11.4 Billion Battle for Boxes: Freight (Source: Bloomberg)
After a quarter in which companies selling space on container lines doubled rates, the amount the owners of the ships are being paid is the least in two years. Operators, who charter vessels and then charge shippers per container, are demanding $1,379 for a 20-foot box on the China- to-Europe trade route, up 97 percent this year, according to Clarkson Plc (CKN), the largest shipbroker. A measure of how much they’re paying ship owners fell 4.2 percent since the start of January, data from the Hamburg Shipbrokers’ Association show. The gap is growing because operators are leaving vessels idle or hiring fewer ships, driving down how much they pay owners, while restricting supply and boosting box rates. RS Platou Markets AS and Fearnley Fonds ASA, units of Norway’s biggest shipbrokers, recommend selling shares of Seaspan Corp. (SSW), a Hong Kong-based owner, and buying those of Orient Overseas (International) Ltd. (316), which manages vessels from the city.

20120320 0947 Soy Oil & Palm Oil Related News.

ITS CPO export up 14.2% to 894,594 tonnes for the period of 1~20 Mar 2012.
SGS CPO export up 14% to 886706 tonnes for the period of 1~20 Mar 2012.

VEGOILS-Palm oil rally loses some steam, exports eyed
Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:18am EDT
* Palm oil down, but demand prospects and soy supply fears
 * Palm oil to fall to 3,360 ringgit -technicals
 * Exports for March 1-20 due Tuesday
 (Updates throughout)

By Chew Yee Kiat
SINGAPORE, March 19 (Reuters) - Malaysian palm oil futures ended lower on Monday as investors booked profits on concerns the market was overbought, although losses were capped by upbeat demand prospects and soybean supply fears in drought-hit South America.
Palm oil prices hit a nine-month high of 3,418 ringgit last Friday, setting the stage for a price correction that pared gains to 6.2 percent so far this year.
"It's not surprising that the market came down today although the fundmentals didn't change. This is more of a correction and immediate support now is around 3,350 ringgit," said a trader with a foreign commodities brokerage.
But sentiment is still fairly bullish as market players expect Malaysia's strong export trend to continue as big buyers like China may increase edible oil shipments.
"There's news that the Chinese government has purchased less soybean oil domestically. That's a sign that their local supply is low, so they may import more," said Alan Lim, an analyst with Kenanga Investment Bank in Malaysia.
Benchmark June palm oil futures on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange lost 0.7 percent to close at 3,373 ringgit ($1,105) per tonne.
Traded volumes on Monday stood at 24,893 lots of 25 tonnes each, slightly lower than the usual 25,000 lots.
Palm oil will retrace to 3,360 ringgit per tonne as it still hovers around a resistance of 3,398 ringgit, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.
Investors are keeping an eye out for cargo surveyors Intertek Testing Services and Societe Generale de Surveillance, which reported monthly increases of 37 percent and 42 percent respectively in Malaysian exports for March 1-15.
That represented an improvement compared to the first 10 days and the surveyor data also pointed to strengthening demand from Europe, as exports to the region more than doubled from a month ago.
The cargo surveyors will release export data for March 1-20 on Tuesday and market players expect to see an increase of around 12 percent compared to a month ago.
Market players are also focusing on the official planting forecasts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture due at the end of the month to help gauge soybean output for the year. Lower soybean output means less for crushing into soyoil, allowing palm oil to meet the shortfall.
Brent crude was steady below $126 a barrel, as prices were supported by continued concerns over a potential supply disruption from Iran, with the risk of major supply squeeze still being factored in.
In other vegetable oil markets, the most active U.S. soyoil contract for May delivery lost 0.6 percent while the most active September 2012 soyoil contract on China's Dalian Commodity exchange edged up slightly on strengthening demand prospects.

Soybeans (Source: CME)
US soybean futures end lower on profit-taking and weak cash market prices. Traders say a lack of fresh supportive news prompted profit-taking following sharp recent gains that have pushed the market to six-month highs. Lower South American soybean prices added to the pressure, traders say. Wheat and corn also fall during the session. An optimistic export outlook limits losses. May CBOT soybeans end down 7 1/2c to $13.66 1/2 a bushel.

Soybean Meal/Oil (Source: CME)
May soybean oil closes down 0.10c to 55.40 cents/lb and May soybean meal ends down $3.50 to $370.90 per short ton.

Palm oil gains on upbeat demand outlook
SINGAPORE, March 19 (Reuters) - Malaysian palm oil futures edged higher as investors were upbeat about demand prospects for the edible oil, while soybean supply fears in drought-hit South America also supported prices.
"There's news that the Chinese government has purchased less soybean oil domestically. That's a sign that their local supply is low, so they may import more," said Alan Lim, an analyst with Kenanga Investment Bank in Malaysia.

India's 2011/12 oilseed output up, rapeseed falls-trade body
NEW DELHI, March 18 (Reuters) - India's oilseed output rose 2.2 percent to 26.01 million tonnes in the current crop year, a leading trade body said on Sunday, with the main winter-sown rapeseed crop hit by adverse weather conditions, and suggesting edible oil imports might rise.
Output of rapeseed dropped by 12.6 percent to 6.03 million tonnes in the year to June 2012, said the Central Organisation for Oil Industry and Trade, which usually gives its estimate for the full year in mid-March after the crop has been harvested.