Wednesday, March 28, 2012

20120328 1806 FCPO EOD Daily Chart Study.

FCPO closed : 3473, changed : -8 points, volume : lower.
Bollinger band reading : pullback correction upside biased.
MACD Histrogram : rising higher, buyer in control.
Support : 3470, 3450, 3420, 3380 level.
Resistance : 3500, 3550, 3620, 3650 level.
Comment :
FCPO closed pullback little lower with decreasing volume exchanged. Soy oil price currently rebounding little higher after overnight closed lower while crude oil price also having pullback correction.
Price corrected from 1 year high as trader lock in partial profit after recent strong rallies with fundamental remained unchanged.
Daily chart study revised to suggesting a pullback correction upside biased market development.
When to buy : buy at support or weakness with quick cut loss and profit target.
When to sell : sell at resistant or strength with quick cut loss and profit target.

20120328 1728 FKLI EOD Daily Chart Study.

FKLI closed : 1585.5 changed : -6.5 points, volume : lower.
Bollinger band reading : correction range bound little upside biased.
MACD Histrogram : turned downward again, buyer seller battling.
Support : 1580, 1570, 1565, 1550 level.
Resistance : 1590, 1600, 1610, 1620 level.
Comment :
FKLI closed recorded loss with slower volume transacted with rollover activities doing about 2 points discount compare to cash market that also closed lower. Overnight U.S. markets closed lower and today Asia markets ended mostly lower while European markets currently decline lower.
Reports on China industrial companies dropped 5.2% in Jan-Feb, U.S. Fed Reserve chairman statement on U.S. economic recovery isn’t assured plus Japan most company dividend ex date send regional market lower.
Technical reading switch to recommending 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.

20120328 1701 Regional Markets EOD Daily Chart Study.

 DJIA chart reading : upside biased rebound from middle Bollinger band.
 Hang Seng chart reading : correction range bound little downside biased.
KLCI chart reading :  correction range bound little upside biased.

20120328 1630 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

Shares pause after rally, eye US data for clues
TOKYO, March 28 (Reuters) - Asian shares drifted lower, after rallying the previous session on hopes for further stimulus from the Federal Reserve, as investors waited for more clues on the state of the U.S. economy.
"It is natural to see a pause since equities markets have been on an uptrend for five months since hitting their lows, but the downside is limited as real money, which has lagged hedge funds and CTAs (commodity trading advisors), are catching up with the rally," said Tetsuro Ii, the president of Commons Asset Management in Tokyo.

FOREX-Yen firmer on flows related to Japan fiscal year-end
TOKYO/SINGAPORE, March 28 (Reuters) - The yen edged higher against the dollar supported by seasonal flows from Japanese exporters who bought the yen  with the end of their financial year approaching.
The dollar fell 0.3 percent to 82.92 yen , while the euro eased 0.2 percent to 110.52 yen  to inch away from a 4-1/2 month high of 111.43 yen hit last week on trading platform EBS.

Commodities look to simmer not boil this year
NEW YORK, March 27 (Reuters) - Even with crude oil prices nearing record territory, experts see signs that the market for commodities is running on fumes.
The prices of many commodities are losing steam as much of Europe is likely headed into a recession and China's economy is slowing down from its once torrid pace, industry analysts say.

Soy rebounds on Chinese demand, corn near 1-month low
SINGAPORE, March 28 (Reuters) - Chicago soybeans bounced back, rising for three out of four sessions with support from China's off-season demand for U.S. cargoes following tight supplies from drought-hit South America.
"The focus is turning on plantings report but beans are supported around the current levels as China is showing pretty strong buying interest," said Ker Chung Yang, an analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.

Japan to import 6.5 pct less food wheat in 2012/13
TOKYO, March 28 (Reuters) - Japan, the world's fifth-biggest wheat importer, plans to buy 6.5 percent less foreign food wheat in the year to March 2013  in anticipation of higher local production, helped by government initiatives to lift food self sufficiency.
A panel of experts on Wednesday approved a plan by the Ministry of Agriculture to buy 4.78 million tonnes of foreign wheat for milling use in 2012/13, compared with the 2011/12 plan for 5.11 million tonnes.
Paraguay soy seen half of last season's
ASUNCION, March 27 (Reuters) - Drought-hit Paraguay is expected to produce 4.3 million tonnes of soy this season, half the amount harvested in the previous crop year, the country's grains farmers' chamber said on Tuesday.
The South American nation is the world's No. 4 soy exporter. Dry weather earlier this season accounts for the expected sharp drop in output, according to the UGP farmers' association.
Rise in Brazil sugar output seen moderate-FOLicht
SAO PAULO, March 27 (Reuters) - Brazil's cane crop, source for half the world's sugar trade, will stage only a moderate recovery in 2012/13 as fields in the center-south region claw back from their first decline in a decade, global sugar analysts F.O. Licht forecast on Tuesday.
Crushing in the region, which begins officially in April, will put out 32.3 million tonnes of sugar, 1 million tonnes more than for 2011/12, senior sugar analyst Stefan Uhlenbrock said at F.O. Licht's annual sugar and ethanol event in Sao Paulo.
Drought hits South African maize output
JOHANNESBURG, March 27 (Reuters) - South Africa on Tuesday cut its maize output forecast for the 2011/12 season by 3 percent, exactly in line with market expectations, after late-season drought weighed on yields.
Africa's biggest maize producer would harvest 11.3 million tonnes for the season, compared with 11.7 million tonnes in the previous forecast, the government's Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) said.

Brent breaches $125 on US crude stocks rise, possible release
SINGAPORE, March 28 (Reuters) - Brent crude fell for a second session, breaching $125, on the possibility of a release of strategic oil reserves by the United States even after crude stockpiles in the world's largest oil user rose more than expected last week.
"Markets have arrived at a level where they probably need to see evidence of better economic growth and demand before they take things higher," said Ric Spooner, Sydney-based chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Indonesia 2012 coal output seen rising by up to 5 pct -association
SINGAPORE, March 28 (Reuters) - Indonesia's coal production in 2012 is expected to rise up to 5 percent from a year earlier to 390 million tonnes, despite price declines, a senior industry group official said on Wednesday.
"This year we estimate that production will reach 380-390 million tonnes even though prices have gone down," said Supriatna Suhala, deputy chairman and executive director of the APBI-Indonesia Coal Mining Association.

Euro Coal-Rises with power, gas but outlook bearish
LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - Prices for prompt physical coal deliveries rose on Tuesday as strengthening power and gas prices lifted coal contracts, but analysts said the coal market remained under downward pressure from ample supply and lower demand at the end of winter.
A May cargo for delivery to Europe (DES ARA) was heard at $98.25 a tonne, according to GLOBALcoal, up $1.5 on the previous day.

JSW sees 2012 coal output above target of 13.3 mln t
KATOWICE, Poland, March 27 (Reuters) - Polish miner Jastrzebska Spolka Weglowa , the European Union's top coking coal producer, expects its 2012 output to exceed a planned increase to 13.3 million tonnes on promising first-quarter figures, JSW chief executive said on Tuesday.
The state-controlled miner mainly sells its coal within the region, including Poland, Germany, Romania and Austria, with steelmaker Arcelor Mittal  its biggest client.

Infrastructure key to Mongolia coal - Aspire Mining
MOSCOW, March 27 (Reuters) - Mongolia's emerging coal sector must work to build the nation's rail grid if it hopes to continue to expand in the global coking coal export market and benefit from rising Asian demand, a senior Aspire Mining  executive told Reuters.
Mongolia lies between world leading steel producers China and Russia and is positioned to supply the new blast furnaces springing up on the coast of China, Aspire Managing Director David Paull told Reuters on Tuesday.

Bitterness could twist India's $211 bln coal saga
MUMBAI, March 27 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Simmering worries about India's cheapo sell-off of its coal asset could yet explode.  The economic consequences may well be worse than those which followed the telecoms mess up. Consumers eventually benefited from the mobile licences scandal. Coal could prove murkier.
If India had auctioned its coalmines rather than allocating them on a first-come first-served basis it may have raised an extra $211 billion, according to a leaked draft report from India's audit office. Where have all the gains from this bargain-basement sell off ended up?

Xstrata wins approval for Australia's biggest coal mine
PERTH, March 27 (Reuters) - An Australian court ruled in favour of global miner Xstrata  on Tuesday in a case which sought to halt the company's plans to build the country's largest coal mine on the grounds that it would contribute to climate change.
The objection against the A$6 billion ($6.3 billion) Wandoan mine was filed by environmental group Friends of the Earth and landowners, and comes amid increasing resistance to Australia's coal industry from green campaigners.

Glencore and Xstrata, catalyst for more mining M&A
LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - Megadeals like Glencore's  planned acquisition of Xstrata  could encourage other mining companies to embark on decisive M&A of their own, senior bankers said at the Reuters Mining and Metals Summit on Tuesday.
"The market is reasonably conducive to M&A, other large strategic deals could provoke people to think about their own destiny," said David Hammond, global head of metals and mining at Morgan Stanley , speaking at the Reuters Mining and Metals summit in London.

China's copper traders play yuan for profits
SHANGHAI, March 28 (Reuters) - At Shanghai's Waigaoqiao port, a sprawling 10 square kilometre free-trade zone, thousands of tonnes of copper cathode plates sit in stacks turning green after years of exposure to the elements.  
"They don't get shipped to end-users because they were bought for speculative reasons," said a warehouse manager at the port, who would only give his surname Zhu, standing in the port's control room overlooking yards piled high with metal.

Rio Tinto upbeat on iron ore, supply a concern-CFO
LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto , the world's third-largest miner, was  optimistic about demand for iron ore, especially in China, but concerned that supply would not be enough to satisfy appetite, Chief Financial Officer Guy Elliott said Tuesday.
"We remain very positive about the outlook for iron ore in terms of demand over the next few years. We are more concerned about supply," Elliott said at the Reuters Mining and Metals Summit televised to London from New York.

Copper slips ahead of U.S. manufacturing data
SINGAPORE, March 28 (Reuters) - Copper slipped with investor focus shifting to upcoming U.S. manufacturing data for fresh insight into the health of the world's top economy, while hopes for further monetary policy easing continued to cushion prices.
"U.S. macro numbers seem to be topping out a bit. We seem to have lost some of this really good momentum we had earlier in the year - the slowdown in other countries and energy prices is taking its toll," metals analyst Edward Meir at INTL FCStone said.

Alcoa agrees to postpone closing Italy smelter
MILAN, March 27 (Reuters) - Alcoa  has agreed to keep its Italian smelter running past the planned closure date while it looks for new buyers, the U.S. aluminium company, the Italian Industry Ministry and labour unions said on Tuesday after hours of meetings.
Alcoa had planned to close its Portovesme smelter on the island of Sardinia by mid-year as part of efforts to cut global output and costs. The plan has run into fierce opposition from Italy's government, Sardinia's authorities and unions.

NLMK to boost 2012 steel output to over 15 mln T
MOSCOW, March 27 (Reuters) - Novolipetsk Steel , Russia's fourth-largest steel producer, said on Tuesday it plans $1.7 billion in capital expenditure this year as it presses ahead with plans to increase production capacity.
"In 2012 we plan to increase crude steel output to over 15 million tonnes on the back of incremental capacity growth thus becoming the largest steel producer in Russia," it said in a statement.

Iron Ore-Shanghai rebar slips; caution on ore
SHANGHAI, March 28 (Reuters) - Shanghai steel futures dipped modestly on Wednesday, as investors stayed on the sidelines and were reluctant to chase gains after prices jumped to a two-month high in the previous session.
The wait-and-see attitude spilled over to the iron ore market, a key steelmaking raw material, with more traders now
opting to stay on the fringes after miners pushed to raise prices.

Brazil's Vale moderately optimistic about iron ore outlook
SINGAPORE, March 27 (Reuters) - Brazil's Vale , the world's second-largest mining company, is moderately optimistic about the outlook for iron ore and expects significant demand from top consumer China, Claudio Alves, global marketing director, said on Tuesday.
This comes on the heels comments by BHP Billiton , the world's biggest miner, that it was seeing signs of "flattening" iron ore demand from China - a news that unsettled financial markets as they are sensitive to any hint of softening demand in the world's second largest economy.

US sets import duties on India, Vietnam steel pipe
WASHINGTON, March 27 (Reuters) - The U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday set a preliminary import duty of nearly 286 percent on a certain type of steel pipe from India to offset government subsidies and a duty of slightly more than 8 percent on the same product from Vietnam.
It declined to set preliminary duties on imports from Oman and the United Arab Emirates, saying it found little or no subsidies for steel pipe producers in those countries.

JX Nippon says stocks weigh on China copper demand
TOKYO, March 27 (Reuters) - The appetite for copper remains weak in China, weighed down by swollen inventories and tight monetary policy, with destocking likely to continue until after May, according to JX Nippon Mining and Metals Corp , parent of Japan's top copper smelter.
China's economic growth and demand for industrial metals seem now to be the market's most serious concern after BHP Billiton last week warned of faltering Chinese demand for iron ore, a key steelmaking ingredient, which spooked metal markets.

METALS-Copper slips ahead of U.S. manufacturing data
SINGAPORE, March 28 (Reuters) - Copper slipped although hopes for further U.S. monetary policy easing supported prices, while investor focus shifted to U.S. manufacturing data later in day for fresh insight into the health of the world's top economy.
London copper rallied about 2 percent on Monday and then rose to a one-week high of $8,585 on Tuesday on hopes of further easing from the United States, but gains have been tempered by worries about slowing growth in China, the world's leading consumer of metals.  

Gold hovers around $1,680/oz; US data eyed
SINGAPORE, March 28 (Reuters) - Gold hovered around $1,680 an ounce, as investors awaited more trading cues from U.S. data after recent hints from the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman on more stimulus propelled bullion to a two-week high near $1,700 in the previous session.
"Bernanke was highlighting his uncertainty about the sustainability of the recent uptick in the U.S. data," said Jeremy Friesen, commodity strategist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong.

PRECIOUS-Gold hovers below $1,680/oz; US data eyed
SINGAPORE, March 28 (Reuters) - Gold slipped below $1,680 an ounce as investors awaited more trading cues from U.S. data after recent hints from the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman on more stimulus propelled bullion to a two-week high near $1,700 in the previous session.
After defending very low interest rates and triggering a rally in bullion prices earlier in the week, Ben Bernanke cautioned it is too soon to declare victory in the U.S. recovery and said the Fed would take no options off the table on further action to stimulate growth.

Baltic sea index up, smaller vessels firm
March 27 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry commodities, rose on Tuesday as rates for smaller vessels remained firm.
The main index that reflects the daily freight market rates for capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize dry bulk transport vessels rose 5 points or 0.55 percent to 917 points.

Slump hits Italian ship firm, bondholders up in arms
LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) - A slump in world freight threatens to sink Italian shipping firm Deiulemar Compagnia di Navigazione, hurting thousands of small investors who fear it issued around 550 million euros of bonds hat were not on the balance sheet while selling off its ships.
Shipping companies worldwide ordered large numbers of new vessels between 2007 and 2009, when rates to carry freight -  notably dry bulk cargo such as a coal, grain and iron ore - hit record highs, and now they face a glut.

Baltic sea index up, capesizes still weak
March 26 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks rates to ship dry commodities, rose on Monday despite continued weakness in capesize rates.
The overall index, a gauge of the cost of shipping commodities such as iron ore, cement, grain, coal and fertiliser, rose 4 points or 0.44 percent to 912 points.

20120328 1114 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares pause after rally, eye US data for clues
TOKYO, March 28 (Reuters) - Asian shares drifted lower on Wednesday as investors waited for more clues on the state of the U.S. economy, after hopes for further stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve strengthened risk appetite and lifted prices the previous session.
"A form of restricted QE remains the most likely outcome, especially as inflationary pressures risk being more than just transitory," he said.

COMMODITIES-Coffee spikes after being oversold; wheat tumbles
NEW YORK, March 27 (Reuters) - Coffee futures jumped on  Tuesday by their most in five months as buyers returned to an oversold market, while wheat fell sharply as investors took profits after last week's run-up.
"I think it was technically oversold and funds came back in," said John Wolthers, trader at Comexim in Santos, a key port town for Brazil's coffee shipments.

OIL-Brent dips; potential oil reserve release weighs
NEW YORK, March 27 (Reuters) - Brent crude prices dipped on Tuesday in tug-of-war trading as market players factored concerns over disrupted supply against the likelihood of a release of U.S. strategic oil reserves to cap rising fuel costs.
"The factors that drove us over $100 are still underpinning the market," said Gene McGillian, analyst for Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut, adding that prices seemed to be consolidating around current levels and could be poised for another move to the upside.

US says working with oil producers to expand production
WASHINGTON, March 27 (Reuters) - The United States is working with Saudi Arabia and other major oil producers to ensure their production is expanded to help mitigate any su pply dis ruptions and tensions cau sed by Western sanctions on Iran, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Tuesday.
"The best thing we can do is work with major oil producers to make sure their supply is expanded to meet not just the growing demand from growth but to offset any disruptions," Geithner told a congressional panel.

Iraq's March oil exports target postwar high
LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - Iraqi oil sales are heading towards a post-war high this month, a senior Iraqi oil official said on Tuesday, as a new Gulf shipping outlet provides a long-awaited boost to export capacity.
"Exports should hit 2.3 million barrels a day this month, and we're doing our best to go beyond that in April," the official said by telephone from Baghdad. The higher rate will be a marked improvement on February's level of 2 million bpd.

NATURAL GAS-US natgas futures end lower, hit 10-year low
NEW YORK, March 27 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures dropped to a new 10-year low on Tuesday as forecasts for mild weather in Northeast and Midwest plus expectations that gas inventories continue to build pressured prices despite signs that the market has tightened.
"The near-term fundamentals continue to point to lackluster demand and production is still strong. That's likely to lead to another injection on Thursday," said Eric Bickel, analyst at Summit Energy in Kentucky.

EURO COAL-Rises with power, gas but outlook bearish
LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - Prices for prompt physical coal deliveries rose on Tuesday as strengthening power and gas prices lifted coal contracts, but analysts said the coal market remained under downward pressure from ample supply and lower demand at the end of winter.
"U.S. exports of thermal coal more than doubled in 2011 from 15.6 million tonnes (mt) to 31.4 mt as natural gas became more competitive for power generation for virtually all of the year," Deutsche Bank  said in a research note.

20120328 1010 Local & Global Economy Related News.

The pump price of RON95 will remain at RM1.90 per litre despite the government having to increase its subsidy by 10 sen per litre. Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the subsidy was now RM0.93 per litre, up from 82 sen due to the global oil price rise. The government continues to bear additional subsidy on the fuel as the government was aware that any increase in the fuel prices would cause an increase in the price of other consumer products and hence, increase the cost of living faced by the people, he said. “If the upward trend continues, we may have to adjust the subsidy accordingly,” he said. (The Star)

The federal government yesterday tabled a bill for a RM10.29bn supplementary budget from the consolidated fund for expenditure on the services and not provided for or not fully provided for by Budget 2011. This will be the second request for supplementary funding for 2011 after the first in Jun 2011 involving a sum of RM13.19bn. Among expenditure asked for include RM4.05bn for Treasury general services, RM2.83bn for contribution to statutory funds, RM782.52m for the Public Services Department, RM621.87m for Ministry of Health, according to the Supplementary Supply (2011) 2012 Bill, tabled for the first hearing at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday. It also includes RM353.76m for the Prime Minister’s Department and RM48.77m in expenditure for the Election Commission. In immediate comment, opposition MP Sivarasa Rasiah said while the government has the power to resort to the supplementary supply bill for funds, it is not good financial practice because it messes up the nation’s deficit. Although the country’s deficit was slightly narrowed last year, with these supplementary requests, it brings the country back to the same level, he said. (Malaysian Reserve)

Indonesia’s government and the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives agreed on the inflation assumption of 6.8% in the 2012 State Revenue and Expenditure Budget Revision by setting the energy fiscal risk at Rp23tr (US$2.51bn). The initial inflation assumption proposed was 7%. (IFT)

Massive protests in Indonesia against a proposed fuel price increase failed to materialize in Jakarta on Tuesday, but smaller rallies, some of them violent, took place across the country. The National Police reported 127 demonstrations, most of them peaceful, across the archipelago involving more that 88,200 protesters. East Java and Jakarta saw the highest number of protests, with 24 each. (Jakarta Globe)

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has called a halt to additional planning and development of new economic zones and industrial parks across the country as several shortcomings have emerged. (The Saigon Times)

The State Bank of Vietnam announced that insolvent banks unable to cover payment demands from depositors will receive support from the central bank or other commercial banks if their defaults were likely to have a negative impact on the entire banking system. (Vietnam News)

Vietnam will have to spend up to US$12bn yearly on imported cars until 2025 if the automobile industry's meagre development continues its current state, according to the Viet Nam Business Annual Report 2011. (Vietnam News)

Vietnamese companies are expected to win contracts to export some 3.2m tonnes of rice in 1Q12, a yoy increase of 15%, according to the Viet Nam Food Association (VFA). (Vietnam News)

FDI inflows to Vietnam’s property sector have regained lead position in terms of fresh capital in 1Q12, after a long period of sharp decline due to market woes. (The Saigon Times)

Thailand’s Fiscal Policy Office revised 2012 GDP growth up from the earlier estimation of 5% to 5.5% as a result of a better economic recovery. (Thai Financial Post)

The IMF confirmed that the Thai economy will stage a sharp recovery from last year's devastating floods, with growth of 5.5% this year and 7.5% next year, thanks to reconstruction and fiscal stimulus. (The Nation)

The Indian government may resume stake sales in state-run companies through auctions in the new fiscal year beginning 1 Apr, Disinvestment Secretary Mohammad Haleem Khan said. (WSJ)

China has made it easier for foreign banks to bring money into the country, according to people familiar with the matter, with the move involving raising the banks' long-term foreign debt quotas. (WSJ)

China: Industrial profits fall 5.2% in first two months
Chinese industrial companies had their first January-February profit decline since 2009 as slowing exports and a government campaign to cool property prices damped earnings. Net income dropped 5.2% from a year earlier to RMB606bn (USD96bn), the National Bureau of Statistics said. That compared with a 34.3% gain in the first two months of 2011. (Bloomberg)

Japan’s corporate service price index fell 0.6% yoy in Feb (a revised -0.4% in Jan), whilst on a mom basis, the measure expanded 0.1% (-0.6% in Jan). (Reuters)

Japanese small business confidence rose to 48.7 in Mar from 45.3 in Feb. (RTTNews)

South Korea: Manufacturer confidence climbs to 6-month high
South Korean manufacturers’ confidence rose to the highest level in six months on signs that the outlook for global growth is improving. An index measuring expectations for April climbed to 85 from 84 for March, the Bank of Korea said in a statement in Seoul. A measure of expectations at non-manufacturing companies advanced to 82 from 80. (Bloomberg)

France: French consumer confidence unexpectedly jumped in March
French consumer confidence unexpectedly jumped by the most in almost five years in March as the euro region’s second-largest economy prepares for a possible change of government. A measure of sentiment rose to 87 from 82 in February, national statistics office Insee said. Economists forecast an unchanged reading, according to the median of 16 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. The gain was the biggest since May 2007, when Nicolas Sarkozy won France’s presidency promising to bolster household purchasing power. (Bloomberg)

US: Improving US job market bolsters confidence
An improving job market helped keep consumer confidence close to the highest level in a year in March as a growing number of Americans said they planned to buy cars, homes and appliances. The Conference Board’s index was 70.2 this month, in line with the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey, down from a revised 71.6 reading in February, according to the New York- based research group. (Bloomberg)

US: Home prices in US cities fell at slower pace in January
Home prices in 20 US cities dropped at a slower pace in January, pointing to stabilization in the real estate market. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities fell 3.8% from a year earlier, matching the median forecast of 32 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, after decreasing 4.1% in December, a report from the group showed in New York. Prices were little changed in January from the prior month, the best performance since July. (Bloomberg)

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged Congress to keep up financial support for the IMF and World Bank to help further US economic and security interests. (AFP)

US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said it is too soon to declare victory on the US economy, warning against complacency in policymaking as the outlook brightens. (Reuters)

White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman Alan Krueger said private economists have gone overboard in attributing some of the job market's recent strength to good weather and quirks in government data, when there was evidence of broad-based recovery taking hold. (Reuters)

The S&P Case-Shiller house price index was unchanged on a mom basis in Jan (a revised -0.5% in Dec), better than consensus expectations of -0.2%. On a yoy basis, the index contracted 3.8% (a revised -4.1% in Dec), matching the median estimate. (Bloomberg)

ICSC-Goldman US store sales moderated to 2.7% yoy in the week ended 24 Mar (3.3% in the previous week), but contracted 0.5% wow from the prior week’s 0.9% gain. (Bloomberg)

20120328 1009 Malaysia Corporate Related News.

IGB mulls megamall in Johor Baru
IGB Corp Bhd is looking to develop a megamall in Johor Baru, similar to the multi-billion ringgit MidValley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur that was built by the group about 12 years ago. The Johor Baru megamall is estimated to cost RM2-3bn, and will take up some 40 acres (16.19ha) of land, with about 3m sq ft in built-up area. In comparison, the Mid Valley Megamall has a built-up area of about 4.5m sq ft. (Financial Daily)

Cahya Mata Sarawak and Rio Tinto scrap plans for aluminium smelter
Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS) has scrapped plans for a USD2bn aluminium smelter project in Sarawak that was part of a collaboration with Rio Tinto plc. They failed to work out a commercial power supply agreement with Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB). In an announcement made to Bursa, CMS said the termination was mutual and it involved heads of agreement between RTA and Samalaju Aluminium Industries Sdn. Bhd, its wholly owned unit, and the MOU between both parties and SEB. (Financial Daily)

Prime Minister’s son not taking up stake in Supercomnet
Mohd Nazifuddin Mohd Najib, son of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is not pursuing an option to purchase an 18.66% stake in Supercomnet Technologies Bhd, whose stock has jumped 296% from 12.5 sen a week ago to 49.5 sen on Monday. The ACE-listed company yesterday told Bursa Malaysia it has received a letter dated 27 March from Nazifuddin indicating that he will not be pursuing the option to purchase the 18.66% stake in the company as stated in the Option Letter entered into between Wu Chung-Jung and himself on 25 Mar. The counter closed at 36 sen yesterday shedding 13.5 sen. (Financial Daily)

MAS to accommodate Air Asia X passengers
Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has signed a re-accommodation agreement (RA) with AirAsia X to accommodate the latter's passengers on four routes cancelled by using excess capacity on Malaysia Airlines flights. The four routes involve Mumbai, New Delhi, London and Paris. In a statement, MAS said both economy- and premium-class passengers with confirmed AirAsia X tickets issued before 13 Jan to the four routes would be transferred to MAS and flights will be between 28 Mar and 27 Oct. The re-accommodation agreement between the two airlines came about when Air Asia X decided to halt the flights to the four destinations due to increase in fuel surcharges. (BT)

AHP to dispose of properties for RM1.6m
Amanah Harta Tanah PNB Bhd (AHP) has proposed to sell properties in Gombak, Selangor for RM1.6m cash as part payment of acquisition of new properties as well as repayment of a loan for the refurbishment of Plaza VADS. AHP said the disposal is also in line with the objective of its management company, Pelaburan Hartanah Nasional Bhd, to restructure AHP’s portfolio to enhance the value of assets and to provide attractive return to its unit holders. (BT)

Maybank Investment Bank clarified that it lost only four out of 17 analysts in its Singapore-based unit Maybank Kim Eng and not 40% of its analysts as reported by Reuters."Such movements are part of normal turnover as employees opt for personal or career changes. We have already identified some of the replacements and are hoping to have them on board soon," Maybank Investment Bank CEO Tengku Datuk Zafrul Aziz said in a statement yesterday. (Financial Daily)

A government-linked investment company (GLIC) is likely to take a significant stake in the special-purpose vehicle that is proposing to buy out QSR Brands Bhd and KFC Holdings (M) Bhd (KFCH), according to reliable sources. The move is aimed at giving the buyout vehicle, Massive Equity Sdn Bhd, a firmer footing, both from the standpoint of funding as well as governance. Sources said while JCorp's stake in Massive Equity would remain at 51%, it would be CVC's portion that would be severely diluted. (StarBiz)

Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) has signed a renewable energy power purchase agreement (Reppa) with Core Competencies Sdn Bhd to purchase energy generated from municipal solid waste. Core Competencies chairman Datuk Ariffin Aton said through the agreement, the national utility company will purchase energy generated from its plant, currently in Semenyih, Selangor, for 42 sen per KW/hour, over three times higher than the rate of normal IPP of 13 sen. The agreement, for a tenure of 21 years, would see the company initially providing 64 MW of electricity per day. (The Sun Daily)

Key West Global Telecommunications Bhd shares are suspended for the duration of trading today. The company did not provide details for the suspension, but it is due to hold a press conference this morning after a signing ceremony with Maryland International Offshore Ltd. (BT)

Bolton is embarking on its first build-then-sell residential development with a GDV of RM80m on a 2.34ha site in Setapak. The company will develop 70 three-storey superlink terraced houses on the leasehold site, which is part of an ongoing 26.97ha residential and commercial development in Taman Sri Rampai. Bolton will construct and complete the development by February 2015. (Star Biz)

Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB) has denied any intention of collaborating with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to explore the property market in London. Commenting on a Berita Harian report yesterday, MBSB said it "does not have any such intention and the article was erroneously reported". (The Sun Daily)

20120328 1001 Global Market Related News.

Asia Stocks Fall as U.S. Data Fail to Encourage Investors (Source: Bloomberg)
Asian stocks as better-than- expected U.S. consumer confidence failed to encourage buying after the region’s benchmark equities index yesterday gained the most in two months. Japanese shares led losses after the expiration of a deadline for getting dividend payments. Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), South Korea’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, lost 0.6 percent in Seoul. Mizuho Financial Group Inc. (8411), Japan’s third-largest bank by market value, paced losses among financial firms. Sharp Corp. (6753) was poised to rise by its daily limit after saying Foxconn Technology Group will buy a stake in the maker of flat panel displays. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.4 percent to 127.46 as of 9:46 a.m. in Tokyo, having lost 1.2 percent this month. The measure advanced 12 percent this year through yesterday, headed for the biggest quarterly gain since the three months ended September, 2009. The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index slid 0.1 percent.
“U.S. data overnight were mixed, and as a result we are in a consolidation phase after markets put on some pretty gains, particularly in Japan,” said Tim Schroeders, who helps manage $1 billion in equities at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne. Asia. “In terms of reassessing the outlook over the next quarter or so, people will probably sit on the sidelines.”

Nikkei 225 Falls After U.S. Data Fails to Extend Rally (Source: Bloomberg)
Japanese shares fell after U.S. data failed to encourage investors and the Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained the most in six months yesterday. Sharp Corp. was poised to jump after saying it will sell a stake in its display unit to Foxconn Technology Group. The Nikkei 225 dropped 1.1 percent to 10,141.96 as of 9:06 a.m. in Tokyo, after yesterday recovering to the closing level on March 11 last year, the day of the earthquake and tsunami. The broader Topix slid 1.3 percent to 860.74, with shares falling as 78 percent of its companies prepare to go ex-dividend today.

U.S. Stocks Fall After S&P 500 Rallies to Four-Year High (Source: Bloomberg)
U.S. stocks retreated as a report showing American consumer confidence near the strongest level in a year failed to encourage investors after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced to an almost four-year high. Losses accelerated in the final 15 minutes of trading as financial companies slumped. Bank of America Corp. lost 3.3 percent as Robert W. Baird & Co. cut its rating. Apollo Group Inc. (APOL) fell 8.5 percent on new enrollment concern. Homebuilder Lennar Corp. (LEN) surged 4.7 percent amid better-than-estimated earnings. Pfizer Inc. (PFE) added 1.5 percent as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. raised the possibility of a full breakup of the company. The S&P 500 lost 0.3 percent to 1,412.52 at 4 p.m. New York time, after rising 1.7 percent in two days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 43.90 points, or 0.3 percent, to 13,197.73. About 6.1 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanged today, or 8.8 percent below the three-month average.
“There’s maybe some short-term vulnerability, but it doesn’t really dent my longer-term optimism,” said Liz Ann Sonders, the New York-based chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab Corp. Her firm has $1.81 trillion in client assets. “We had a huge day yesterday. So, it’s not a big surprise not to see an immediate follow-through.”

Japan Stocks Recoup Quake Losses on Yen Slide, Building (Source: Bloomberg)
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) erased losses since the country’s record earthquake as the declining yen and $241 billion of reconstruction spending helped make it the best-performing benchmark index in the developed world this year. The Nikkei 225 surged 21 percent in 2012 as central bank intervention helped weaken the yen, boosting the outlook for Japan’s exporters as the country rebuilds. Taiheiyo Cement Corp. (5233) led the Nikkei’s gains, climbing 61 percent on efforts to repair damage from the temblor and tsunami. Fast Retailing Co. (9983), a discount clothier, jumped 51 percent as electricity shortages forced people to buy more seasonal clothing. Something Holdings Co. (1408), a provider of ground surveying and strengthening, increased eightfold, the most of any Japanese listed stock. The Nikkei 225 rose 2.4 percent to 10,255.15 at the 3 p.m. close in Tokyo yesterday.
The gauge fell 1.7 percent to finish at 10,254.43 on March 11, 2011, when the earthquake struck 14 minutes before the market closed. The measure fell 16 percent in the next two trading days, the biggest decline since the October 1987 Black Monday crash. “It is profound that the market has finally made back its losses, but we have a long way to go toward true reconstruction,” said Ayako Sera, a market strategist at Sumitomo Trust & Banking Co. (8403), which manages the equivalent of $302 billion. “It was shocking the yen surged that much after the quake. The stronger yen had held back a stock recovery.”

European Stocks Drop After U.S. Consumer Confidence Data (Source: Bloomberg)
European stocks declined for the first time in three days, erasing an earlier advance, as confidence among U.S. consumers dropped and shares of energy companies retreated. Total SA (FP) plunged the most since 2008 as a North Sea platform belonging to France’s largest oil producer leaked gas for a third day. Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS) gained 3.3 percent as the U.K. government was said to have held talks to sell part of its stake to Middle Eastern sovereign-wealth funds. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index (SXXP) retreated 0.5 percent to 266.92 at the close, after earlier advancing as much as 0.7 percent. The benchmark measure has still increased 9.2 percent this quarter, its biggest rally in the first three months of a year since 1998. “Total is a heavyweight in the indexes, so it has a lot of impact,” said Lionel Heurtin, a fund manager at Ofi Asset Management in Paris, which oversees $67 billion. “The news reminds us of BP, so it’s normal to be cautious.”
BP Plc reached an estimated $7.8 billion settlement this month with businesses and individuals damaged in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster that killed 11 people and led to the world’s largest accidental spill.

Yen Gains Versus Peers as Stock Drop Boosts Refuge Demand (Source: Bloomberg)
The yen gained versus all of its major counterparts as investors flocked to refuge assets amid a decline in Asian equities. The euro held near a one-month high against the greenback before a European finance ministers’ summit this week where they are expected to agree to bolster the region’s debt-crisis firewall. The U.S. currency rose against the Australian and New Zealand dollars before a report forecast to show orders for durable goods rose last month, reducing the case for further easing by the Federal Reserve. “U.S. stocks fell and Asian stocks are a bit lower,” said Lee Wai Tuck, a currency strategist at Forecast Pte in Singapore. “If the stock market were to come under further pressure, then you’ll likely see Aussie down against the yen, euro down against the yen.”
The yen added 0.3 percent to 82.97 per dollar as of 10:15 a.m. in Tokyo. It fetched 110.65 per euro from 110.75. The 17- nation currency gained 0.2 percent to $1.3337 after climbing to $1.3386 yesterday, the highest since Feb. 29. Australia’s dollar weakened 0.2 percent to $1.0443 and New Zealand’s dipped 0.2 percent to 81.94 U.S. cents.

Foxconn Counts on Apple’s Future Through Sharp Investment (Source: Bloomberg)
Foxconn Technology Group (FOXCGZ) and founder Terry Gou will invest 133 billion yen ($1.6 billion) in Sharp (6753) Corp. and its display unit as the maker of Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPad seeks a supply of flat panels to drive future growth. Foxconn, including Taipei-listed flagship Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (2317) will buy 9.9 percent of Sharp Corp. for 66.9 billion yen in a new-share sale, the Osaka-based company said in a statement. Foxconn chairman Terry Gou and related investment companies will buy 46.5 percent of Sharp Display Products Corp., a venture with Sony Corp. (6758), for 66 billion yen. Yesterday’s deal, the largest Japanese acquisition by a Taiwanese buyer, includes an agreement to purchase as much as 50 percent of Sharp Display’s LCD panels. Sharp (6753), which last month forecast a record 290 billion-yen loss for the fiscal year as TV prices dropped, may begin supplying panels for Apple’s iPad next month, according to researcher IHS Inc.
“This is a risky and aggressive move by Foxconn, which is betting on current and future Apple products, including the iPad and an Apple television, a product which doesn’t even exist,” said Vincent Chen, a Taipei-based analyst at Financial Holding Co. who recommends investors buy Hon Hai. “Foxconn needs the acquisition to get advanced display technology, which it currently lacks.”

Treasuries Rise With Dollar as S&P 500 Index Retreats (Source: Bloomberg)
Treasuries rose, trimming the biggest monthly drop in more than a year, after an auction generated higher-than-average demand. The dollar strengthened against most major counterparts, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell from an almost four-year high. Ten-year Treasury yields lost seven basis points to 2.18 percent at 4 p.m. in New York, paring the monthly gain to 21 basis points. The dollar added 0.3 percent to $1.3323 per euro as it strengthened versus 14 of 16 major counterparts. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.3 percent to 1,412.52 after closing at the highest level since May 2008 yesterday. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average erased losses from last year’s earthquake. Natural gas slumped to a 10-year low on speculation government data this week will show a growing surplus. Treasuries gained as the government sold $35 billion of two-year securities. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke signaled yesterday he will continue to stimulate the economy.
The economic recovery is not yet assured and unemployment remains too high, Bernanke told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer, according to transcripts of the interview released after the close of markets today. “The auction went very well, and should extend to the rest of the week’s auctions given the sentiment,” said Suvrat Prakash, an interest-rate strategist in New York at BNP Paribas Securities SA, a primary dealer obliged to bid at Treasury offerings. “There is less risk appetite, which is beneficial for bonds. Going into quarter-end and month-end, there is more reluctance to take on risk position because people want to pay it safe.”

Consumer Confidence in U.S. Holds Close to One-Year High (Source: Bloomberg)
An improving job market helped keep consumer confidence close to the highest level in a year in March as a growing number of Americans said they planned to buy cars, homes and appliances. The Conference Board’s index was 70.2 this month, in line with the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey, down from a revised 71.6 reading in February, according to the New York- based research group. Another report today showed home prices dropped at a slower pace in January, signaling stabilization in housing that may begin to brighten moods. The best six months of job growth since 2006, unemployment at a three-year low, and stock-market gains are giving Americans the means to withstand higher costs at the gas pump. A pickup in buying plans this month shows a sustained optimism may keep driving consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.
“It’s a tug of war -- the labor market versus gasoline prices,” said Carl Riccadonna, senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York. “We are close to that key psychological level of $4 a gallon. Assuming gas prices don’t shoot to the moon, consumers will keep spending.”

Bernanke Says Too Early to Declare Victory on U.S. Recovery (Source: Bloomberg)
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said unemployment remains too high, the recovery in the U.S. economy isn’t assured and policy makers don’t rule out any further options to boost growth. “It’s far too early to declare victory,” Bernanke said, according to a transcript of an interview with ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer provided by the network. “The recent news has been good. But I think we need to be cautious and make sure this is sustainable. And -- we haven’t quite yet got to the point where we can be completely confident that we’re on a track to full recovery.” Asked if another round of quantitative easing, or large- scale bond purchases, remains “on the table,” the 58-year-old Fed chief said, “we don’t take any options off the table.” He added: “We have to be prepared to respond to however the economy evolves.”
The remarks, airing on “World News with Diane Sawyer” at 6:30 p.m. on the ABC Television Network, expand on a speech by Bernanke yesterday in Arlington, Virginia, in which he said the fall in the jobless rate to 8.3 percent may reflect “a reversal of the unusually large layoffs that occurred during late 2008 and over 2009.” Significant further improvement in reducing unemployment will probably require faster growth, he said.

Bernanke Says Fed Crisis Response Prevented Global Meltdown (Source: Bloomberg)
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the central bank’s aggressive response to the 2007-2009 financial crisis and recession helped prevent a worldwide catastrophe. “We did stop the meltdown,” Bernanke said today in the third of four lectures to undergraduates at George Washington University. “We avoided what would have been, I think, a collapse of the global financial system.” The lectures are the latest effort by the Fed to explain its actions to the public as it comes under scrutiny by critics in Congress and on the campaign trail. Representative Ron Paul, a Texas Republican who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination, today criticized the Fed for its aid to the European Central Bank. Today’s talk in Washington focused on the Fed’s response to the crisis. In the previous one, Bernanke examined its roots, including the boom and bust in home prices and the Fed’s failure to recognize vulnerabilities in the financial system.
Following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008, the central bank flooded the financial system with liquidity, expanding its balance sheet to $2.3 trillion by December of that year from $900 billion in September.

Home Prices in U.S. Cities Fell at Slower Pace in January (Source: Bloomberg)
Home prices in 20 U.S. cities dropped at a slower pace in January, pointing to stabilization in the real estate market. The S&P/Case-Shiller index (SPX) of property values in 20 cities fell 3.8 percent from a year earlier, matching the median forecast of 32 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, after decreasing 4.1 percent in December, a report from the group showed today in New York. Prices were little changed in January from the prior month, the best performance since July. Property values are steadying as a strengthening labor market underpins housing demand, which may allow the industry that precipitated the recession to contribute to growth this year. Nonetheless, the recovery in sales may be restrained by foreclosures that are putting more properties onto the market.
“We are starting to see a slightly less-negative picture,” said Sean Incremona, a senior economist at 4Cast Inc. in New York, who correctly projected the decline. “We have seen some slight progress from very depressed levels, but there’s still a long, long way to go.”

Japan Tax Battle Looms as DPJ Finishes Plan Doubling Sales Levy (Source: Bloomberg)
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s ruling party finalized details of its plan to double the nation’s consumption tax, clearing the way to submit legislation to parliament. The Democratic Party of Japan agreed early this morning on the final wording of the bill, which states the levy could be halted in the event of dire economic conditions. DPJ members approved a plan last year to raise the tax to 8 percent in April 2014 and 10 percent in October 2015. Submitting the legislation to parliament sets the stage for a battle with the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which backed away from supporting a similar plan when it held power. While Noda said earlier this month he believes the parties can reach an agreement, LDP leader Sadakazu Tanigaki has suggested new elections should be called first.
“Given the development of political discussions, it’s getting increasingly unclear whether Noda’s government can conduct a vote for the sales tax bill during the current Diet session and pass it,” said Kiichi Murashima, chief economist at Citigroup Global Markets Japan Inc. in Tokyo. “The LDP, the largest opposition group, won’t likely cooperate on the bill easily.”

South Korean Manufacturer Confidence Climbs to 6-Month High (Source: Bloomberg)
South Korean manufacturers’ confidence rose to the highest level in six months on signs that the outlook for global growth is improving. An index measuring expectations for April climbed to 85 from 84 for March, the Bank of Korea said in a statement in Seoul today. A measure of expectations at non-manufacturing companies advanced to 82 from 80. Progress in containing Europe’s debt crisis has buoyed confidence, along with improvements in the U.S. economy and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke signaling that an accommodative monetary policy may continue. South Korea’s consumer sentiment index rose to a four-month high, a central bank report showed yesterday.
“Broad sentiment and economic conditions are apparently improving, which will likely reduce any odds of an interest rate cut and buoy the won,” said Lee Sang Jae, a senior economist at Hyundai Securities Co. in Seoul. “The first quarter of this year will be a bottom and the economy will likely gain pace from the second quarter, with the European crisis easing and major economies picking up.” The Bank of Korea left its benchmark rate unchanged at 3.25 percent on March 8 for a ninth straight month, saying that downside risks to growth persist while inflation expectations remain high. Consumer inflation moderated to a 14-month low of 3.1 percent in February, within the central bank’s target range.

Investors Hesitate as Frontier Market Myanmar Faces Elections (Source: Bloomberg)
Myanmar’s emergence as Asia’s next tiger economy is more potential than reality as a rush of investors finds little to spend money on besides a limited supply of hotel rooms after six decades of isolation. “Every day, another delegation, another delegation, another delegation, and no one’s putting money on the table,” says Tony Picon, associate director of property broker Colliers International Thailand. “The business community that’s visiting Myanmar must be honest and say ‘We’re just looking, we’re not going to buy,’ and not leading a false sense of anticipation from the local community.” Investors’ first hurdle is the sanctions maintained by the U.S. and Europe, which policy makers are preparing to review following by-elections next week that include dissident Aung San Suu Kyi. Even then, restrictions on capital flows, lack of a developed stock exchange, an untested legal environment and rudimentary infrastructure will offer plenty of reasons for holding off putting money in the former dictatorship.
A flow of corporate executives and tourists to Yangon, the former capital and largest city, has “astronomically” lifted hotel prices in the past few months to as high as $400 per night, according to Picon. At the same time, many businesses are balking at long-term deals, making local agents reluctant to deal with foreigners, he said.

Europe’s Austerity Push Breaks Mother’s Promise of Social Model (Source: Bloomberg)
Ester Artells’s mother told her that if she worked hard she would go a long way. Growing up in Reus in northern Spain (IBEX), Artells understood that a good education would give her the career and lifestyle her mother was denied by the military regime of General Francisco Franco. The economic slump has forced the 35-year-old biologist to move to France, putting a painful twist on the parental advice she received in what’s now the heartland of European unemployment. “It was clear to me, as soon as I finished my thesis, I’d be packing my bags,” said Artells, who found a research post at the University of Aix-Marseille after completing her doctorate last year. “For my mother, it’s very difficult. Everything we’ve fought for since the dictatorship is being wrecked.” Across Europe, parents who assumed the social model built by governments since World War II would make each generation better off than the last are watching the sovereign debt crisis sweep away the promises they made to their children.
Greek teachers and state workers are witnessing the end of the job for life and English students face U.S.-style tuition fees, while the French have been forced to join other Europeans in retiring later. In the background, politicians across the 27 European Union members are implementing austerity measures to the tune of about 450 billion euros ($600 billion), according to government announcements.

French Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Jumped in March (Source: Bloomberg)
French consumer confidence unexpectedly jumped by the most in almost five years in March as the euro region’s second-largest economy prepares for a possible change of government. A measure of sentiment rose to 87 from 82 in February, national statistics office Insee said in Paris today. Economists forecast an unchanged reading, according to the median of 16 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. The gain was the biggest since May 2007, when Nicolas Sarkozy won France’s presidency promising to bolster household purchasing power. “Every five years people think the next government will do better,” said Dominique Barbet, an economist at BNP Paribas in Paris. “This time they’re opening the champagne early.”
Opinion surveys point to a victory for Sarkozy’s socialist rival Francois Hollande in presidential elections that conclude on May 6. While Sarkozy and Hollande are seen as neck-and-neck in the first round of voting, scheduled for April 22, polls consistently show Hollande leading Sarkozy by an unprecedented margin for the May 6 run-off between the two leading candidates.

20120328 1001 Global Commodities Related News.

GRAINS-Soy up 3rd session on S America outlook; wheat, corn up
NEW DELHI, March 27 (Reuters) - Chicago soybeans rose for a third straight session after hitting a six-month high a day earlier on worries over supply from drought-hit South America amid higher
Chinese demand for U.S. beans.
"There is a strong case for soy to rise, as you can see a constant deterioration in the crop outlook of Brazil and Argentina while Chinese demand for U.S. beans is very strong," said Adam Davis, a senior commodity analyst at Merricks Capital in Melbourne.

Australia declares destructive La Nina dead
SYDNEY, March 27 (Reuters) - A weather pattern blamed for heavy rains and crop destruction in the Asia-Pacific region over the past two years has run its course slightly ahead of schedule, forecasters in Australia said on Tuesday.  
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said climate models indicate the weather phenomenon known as La Nina, the girl child, has come to an end, after earlier this month predicting it would drag on for further month or two.

Canada minister signals little concern on Viterra deal
OTTAWA, March 26 - Canada's farm minister highlighted on Monday the global marketing reach of Swiss-based Glencore  in the latest sign from Ottawa that it has little appetite for blocking the company's proposed takeover of grain handler Viterra .
Canada is one of the few countries that can help meet growing global demand for food, which is set to increase by 50 to 70 percent in coming decades, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz told reporters when asked to comment on the Glencore bid.

Ukraine exports 1.46 mln T grain March 1-23
KIEV, March 26 (Reuters) - Ukraine's grain exports totalled 1.46 million tonnes in March 1-23 compared to 1.48 million tonnes in the same period in February, analyst ProAgro said on Monday.
ProAgro said the volume included 1.01 million tonnes of corn, 247,000 tonnes of wheat and 195,000 tonnes of barley.

Ukraine sows 418,000 ha spring grains so far 2012
KIEV, March 26 (Reuters) - Ukrainian farms have sown 418,000 hectares of early spring grain as of March 26, the Farm Ministry said on Monday.
It gave no comparative data.
Ukraine plans to sow about 9 million hectares of spring grains this year.

IRS waives fines for farmers missing MF Global tax info
CHICAGO, March 26 (Reuters) - U.S. tax officials will not penalize farmers who could not properly file their taxes because they had accounts at bankrupt broker MF Global.
The Internal Revenue Service said in a press release on Friday it would waive fines for farmers who underpaid their taxes because they did not receive forms reflecting profits and losses in MF Global accounts before a March 1 deadline.  

Wheat Declines as Beneficial Weather Boosts U.S. Yield Potential (Source: Bloomberg)
Wheat futures in Chicago and Kansas City fell the most in two months after a government report showed warm, wet weather boosted crop conditions from Texas to Illinois. About 59 percent of the winter-wheat crop in Kansas, the biggest U.S. grower, was in good or excellent condition as of March 25, up from 31 percent a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said yesterday. Texas wheat was 39 percent rated in the top two categories, up from 11 percent last year, and Oklahoma crops rated good or excellent rose to 75 percent from 21 percent a year ago. Illinois wheat was rated 78 percent good or excellent. “It looks like it will be one of the best U.S. crops in the last 10 years,” Jeff Beal, a market analyst at the Gulke Group Inc. in Rockford, Illinois, said in a telephone interview. “The weather has been very favorable for wheat development.”
Wheat futures for May delivery slumped 3 percent to close at $6.3975 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest drop since Jan. 12. The grain has fallen 12 percent in the past year as rising world production will boost reserves before the start of the Northern Hemisphere harvest season to the highest since 2000.

Corn futures started the day session mixed, but couldn't garner more than early, light short-covering and that eventually gave way to increased selling. Futures ended 3 to 7 cents lower. Funds were sellers of 9,000 contracts (45 million bu.) of corn today. Traders are hesitant to even cover short positions ahead of Friday's key USDA reports. (Source: CME)

Wheat futures softened as the day progressed to finish 12 to 19 3/4 cents lower for Chicago; 17 1/2 to 20 cents lower in Kansas City; and mostly 11 3/4 to 15 3/4 cents lower in Minneapolis. Futures faced a corrective pullback today, as traders recognize that domestic crop prospects are improving as yesterday’s state-by-state hard red winter wheat crop condition reports showed improvement in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas over the past week. (Source: CME)

Corn market could EXPLODE if we suffer a 3rd year of yields 5+% below trend (Source: CME)
By CME Group - Tue 27 Mar 2012 14:46:16 CT
“Soybeans has replaced corn as the main driver in the crop markets and will probably remain so for the next 6 months as CME trades in a range of $13.50-$14.50. World vegoils are becoming a “demand-led” market with rapidly expanding S. AM biodiesel use” “China grain demand data called into question - keep an eye on cash prices. Rapidly rising disposable income is difficult to measure in terms of grain/meat demand.” “The world is awash with wheat.  Prices to languish in  a broad trading range of $5.80-$7.20 CME unless 2012 world production is threatened by weather (or the US corn crop is threatened)” “As always, watch weather into spring planting.  Corn market could EXPLODE if we suffer a 3rd year of yields 5+% below trend.” Statements By Chief Economist AG Resource, Bill Tierney at a CME AG event in progress.

Fast Paced Corn Plantings “Tend” to Boost Final Corn Seeded area (Source: CME)
By CME Group - Tue 27 Mar 2012 14:39:42 CT
“If 2012 Corn is Planted Very Early, USDA Could Add 2 Bu (Maybe 3) to Yield Proj in May WASDE” and “A Fast Paced Corn Planting “Tends” to Boost Final Corn Seeded Area Above Intentions” are two of the reasons Chief Economist AG Resource, Bill Tierney suggests final yield could end up being higher than expected. Cotton futures closed off their session highs, but still posted gains of 93 to 198 points, with old-crop contracts leading the way. Futures were supported by followthrough short-covering as traders prepare for USDA's Prospective Plantings Report Friday morning. Cotton acres are already widely expected to drop sharply and there's growing concern the strong rally in soybeans could cause some producers to shift more cotton acres to soybeans.

Report Shows“2012 corn seedings to be smaller than expected, Soybeans as expected” (Source: CME)
By CME Group - Tue 27 Mar 2012 14:27:48 CT
Chief Economist AG Resource, Bill Tierney suggests Corn Seedings to Be Smaller Than Industry Expectations at 93.6 – 93.7 Million Acres. He suggests that this would tend to be “Friendly new crop and Bearish old crop”  but warns Dec Corn futures historically does not respond dramatically to stocks report.  Soybeans as expected

March Corn Stocks to Be Higher, Prices to fall 3-4% following report (Source: CME)
By CME Group - Tue 27 Mar 2012 14:18:37 CT
In a presentation to CME Group Customers and media Chief Economist AG Resource, Bill Tierney suggests "March Corn Stocks to Be Higher Than Industry Expectations" “If correct prices will fall 3-4% in the week following the report”  “Each of the USDA reports has the potential to move the crop markets, but combined, their impact could be substantial, immediate, and long-lasting.”

Corn Market Recap for 3/27/2012 (Source: CME)
Tue 27 Mar 2012 14:15:00 CT
May Corn finished down 7 at 630 3/4, 13 3/4 off the high and 1/4 up from the low. July Corn closed down 5 1/4 at 630 3/4. This was 1 up from the low and 12 off the high. May corn closed moderately lower on the session and experienced the lower close since January 23rd. This leaves the market down more than 25 cents from Monday's highs. Talk of a steady flow of fund trader long liquidation selling yesterday and again today helped to pressure. December corn also closed lower and saw the lowest close since January 18th. Outside market forces were choppy into the opening and while the market managed to open higher, the market was trading near the lows shortly after the day session opening. Positioning ahead of the key reports for Friday contributed to the choppy trade action and a move from higher to lower in the soybean market may have actually helped to support a bounce to slightly higher on the day into the mid-session as the soybean move may have sparked some liquidation of long soybean, short corn spreads.
While many traders expected open interest to fall after the sweeping outside-day-down yesterday, open interest was up 2,413 contracts. May Rice finished up 0.29 at 15.095, 0.105 off the high and equal to the low.

Wheat Market Recap Report (Source: CME)
Tue 27 Mar 2012 14:15:01 CT
May Wheat finished down 19 3/4 at 639 3/4, 23 3/4 off the high and 1 up from the low. July Wheat closed down 17 1/2 at 652 3/4. This was 1 up from the low and 21 3/4 off the high. May wheat closed sharply lower on the session and gave back much of the gains from the last three trading sessions. Some light weather concerns with dryness in Europe and cold weather concerns for the US crop have helped support the active short-covering of the previous three sessions but sellers were active today with improving crop conditions and ideas that global supply looks more than sufficient for the coming season. Milling wheat in Paris was down nearly 2% as well after positing a 9-month high on Monday. The market followed the other grains higher early in the session but talk of the improving crop conditions in the US and ideas that the market may be a bit overbought ahead of the key USDA reports for Friday helped to pressure the market to trade slightly lower on the day into the mid-session. In the weekly progress reports, Kansas winter wheat crops are rated 59% good to excellent which is up from 54% last week and just 31% last year. Oklahoma crops are now rated 75% good to excellent, up 5% from last week. Topsoil is short to very short on just 13% of the area vs. 84% last year. Nebraska crops are rated 71% good to excellent as compared with 40% last year. While many traders expected open interest to fall after the so-called short-covering run higher yesterday, open interest was up 1,157 contracts. May Oats closed up 7 1/4 at 340. This was 9 up from the low and 1 off the high.

World grain prices to stay strong-UN's FAO
BUENOS AIRES, March 26 (Reuters) - World grain prices should remain "very firm" over the near term as demand from Asia exceeds forecasts and dry weather cuts into supply, the senior economist of the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Monday.
South American corn and soy yields took a beating from drought this season, while China's rapidly growing middle class continues its love affair with beef steaks. The shift in diet has held strong in the face of the country's economic slowdown, underpinning demand for corn and soymeal used to feed cattle.

Corn, soy seen infringing on US spring wheat belt
CHICAGO, March 26 (Reuters) - Doyle Johannes has been farming for 30 years in the middle of North Dakota, breadbasket country where spring wheat has long been the mainstay. But this year, Johannes says corn will be his primary crop.
Johannes farms 8,500 acres in Underwood, 40 miles north of Bismarck, the state capital -- hundreds of miles west of the Red River Valley, along the Minnesota border where corn and soybeans have established a foothold.  

Illycaffe on the sidelines as coffee prices fall
CHARLESTON, S.C., March 26 (Reuters) - Coffee roasters such as illycaffe are unable to take advantage of prices at 17-month lows because they are still working through the inventory they bought at much higher levels, illycaffe's chief executive told Reuters.
U.S. importers have said in recent weeks that the physical market has been surprisingly quiet , particularly given the drop in futures prices to below $2 per lb for the first time in nearly 1-1/2 years.

SOFTS-Sugar firms after selloff, coffee edges up
LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - Raw sugar futures on ICE firmed early, consolidating in a technical recovery after a selloff late on Monday triggered by a decision by Indian authorities to approve further exports.
Arabica coffee edged up, with upside potential limited by expectations for a big harvest in Brazil, and cocoa inched higher, buoyed by concerns over a lack of quality beans from top producer Ivory Coast.

Rains to help Brazil's dry sugar cane fields
BRASILIA, March 26 (Reuters) - Rains over Brazil's main sugarcane state, Sao Paulo, should turn more frequent through mid-April bringing relief to fields that have been drying out for near two months after unusually few showers, forecaster Somar said on Monday.
The world's top sugar producer is now just weeks from the start of the harvest in its center-south cane belt, one eagerly awaited after last year's disappointing crop. But recent dryness could prevent cane from growing to its full potential.

India allows 1 mln T of extra sugar exports
NEW DELHI, March 26 (Reuters) - India has allowed another 1 million tonnes of unrestricted white sugar exports, a government source said on Monday, bringing the total approved so far to 3 million tonnes, in line with what the industry and markets expected.
The world's second-biggest producer of sugar had already allowed mills to export 2 million tonnes of sugar without  restrictions under its Open General Licence (OGL) scheme in the current year that started in October 2011.

Iran-bound Brazilian sugar ship hijacked off India
DUBAI, March 26 (Reuters) - An Iranian bulk carrier of Brazilian sugar was hijacked in the eastern Indian Ocean early on Monday with 23 crew on board, international shipping monitors said.
The Eglantine, which according to Reuters shipping data loaded in Rio de Janeiro in late February, was hijacked off India's southwest coast by suspected Somali pirates, NATO's counter-piracy mission said.

Brent crude stays above $125 on Fed comments, Iran
SINGAPORE, March 27 (Reuters) - Brent held steady above $125 on as comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve indicating easy monetary policy would remain in place for some time raised investors' appetite for riskier assets.
"It was more a reminder that the Fed stands ready to turn on the printing presses again should conditions warrant it," said Ben Le Brun, market analyst with OptionsXpress in Sydney.

Oil Drops From One-Week High in New York on Rising U.S. Supplies (Source: Bloomberg)
Oil dropped from the highest close in more than a week in New York as investors bet that rising U.S. stockpiles signal fuel demand may falter in the world’s biggest crude-consuming nation. Futures slipped as much as 0.6 percent, declining for the first day in four. Crude supplies rose 3.6 million barrels last week, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed. A government report today may show inventories gained 2.6 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Prices also slid after the U.S. said it’s considering releasing oil from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve. U.S. gasoline demand declined 1.5 percent last week, according to MasterCard Inc. (MA)
“We’re at that level where we will need fresh impetus in terms of ongoing improvement in the demand outlook to take us above here,” said Ric Spooner, a chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney who sees technical resistance for West Texas crude at $108 a barrel. Inventory data ’’provides some insight into the state of the supply, demand balance in the U.S., particularly as we approach the driving season.’’ Oil for May delivery fell as much as 59 cents to $106.74 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $106.88 at 12:05 p.m. Sydney time. It gained 30 cents yesterday to $107.33, the highest close since March 19. Prices are 8.2 percent higher this year and headed for a second consecutive quarterly gain.

China Beats U.S. With Power From Coal Processing Trapping Carbon (Source: Bloomberg)
After studying chemistry at Shanghai’s Fudan University, Jane Chuan and Wang Youqi pursued doctorates in the U.S. She got hers from what’s now the University of Buffalo in 1988, the year they married. Wang graduated in 1994 from the California Institute of Technology. A few years later, they were cashing in stock options in Silicon Valley companies they’d co-founded, one of which created a luminescent chemical to store X-ray images. Their home in Atherton, California, had seven bedrooms, 11 bathrooms and an acre of land, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its May issue. By 2000, Wang was convinced that the research methods he was patenting could help stave off the environmental nightmare he saw unfolding during return visits to his homeland. China, already reeling from pollution, was poised to more than double coal consumption during the decade. That would choke cities with smog and exacerbate global warming.
Chuan, 61, bespectacled and smiling in her white lab coat, remembers pounding the pavement to pitch U.S. investors on cleaning China’s coal. Only a handful of California’s Internet- obsessed venture capitalists bit, she says.

US gas price spike revives fight over energy taxes
WASHINGTON, March 26 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil, the world's most profitable corporation, says it paid more than 45 percent of its 2011 income in taxes, while critics say it paid much less.
So which is it?
The answer is that it depends on how the calculation is made and who is making it - a point that is becoming more important as gasoline prices and oil company profits soar.

Gold May Gain From Two-Week High on Fed Monetary Policy (Source: Bloomberg)
Gold declined from a two-week high as the dollar’s rebound eroded demand for the metal as an alternative investment. The greenback rose from a three-week low against a basket of major currencies, as optimistic reports on consumer confidence and housing weakened the case for additional stimulus by the Federal Reserve. Yesterday, gold jumped the most in four weeks after Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said that accommodative monetary policy was needed to bolster the labor market. “The dollar’s strength is keeping gold quiet,” Dennis Cajigas, a senior market strategist at Zaner Group in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “We are seeing some profit- taking.” Gold futures for June delivery fell 50 cents to settle at $1,687.70 an ounce at 1:42 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Earlier, the price reached $1,699.60, the highest for a most- active contract since March 13.
The precious metal has gained 7.7 percent this year. Holdings in exchange-traded products backed by gold jumped 5 metric tons to 2,394.6 tons yesterday. The amount rose to a record on March 13.

Copper Falls as U.S. Data Boosts Dollar, Dents Stimulus Case (Source: Bloomberg)
Copper fell for the first time in three sessions in New York as evidence that the U.S. economy is on firmer footing boosted the dollar and weakened the case for additional economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values showed home prices in 20 U.S. cities dropped at a slower pace in January, while consumer confidence in March held close to the highest level in a year, the New York-based Conference Board said. The dollar rebounded from a three-week low against a basket of currencies, reducing the appeal of the metal as an alternative investment. “Dollar strength is weighing on the market,” Harry Denny, a broker at Hoboken, New Jersey-based PVM Futures Inc., said in a telephone interview. “Until the Fed sees that housing has fully recovered, they’ll hint at stimulus. But I think they’ll just leave that on the table.”
Copper futures for May delivery retreated 0.2 percent to settle at $3.88 a pound at 1:17 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Prices gained 3.2 percent in the previous two sessions, and have risen 13 percent this quarter. The metal climbed the most in almost five weeks yesterday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said continued accommodative monetary policy will be needed to make further progress in lowering unemployment.

20120328 10000 Soy Oil & Palm Oil Related News.

Crude palm oil (CPO) prices hit a 13-month high of RM3,490 per tonne yesterday on worries that a fall in soyabean harvest from South America will reduce global vegetable oil supplies, increasing demand for palm oil from Malaysia. Godrej International Ltd director Dorab Mistry, a well-followed CPO price predictor, had earlier said the biggest threat for CPO price falls would be from the possible collapse of the euro leading to a crisis. Other threat include war breaking out from Iran, and weather conditions. (Financial Daily)

Soy Falls on Rising U.S. Reserve, Acreage Forecasts; Corn Drops (Source: Bloomberg)
Soybeans fell from a six-month high on speculation that a government report will show U.S. inventories rose and that farmers will plant more. Corn slid. U.S. soybean reserves probably gained 9.8 percent to 1.371 billion bushels on March 1 from a year earlier, a Bloomberg News survey showed before the Department of Agriculture’s report on March 30. Farmers may increase planting 0.6 percent to 75.429 million acres, a separate survey showed. Prices have jumped 13 percent in 2012, heading for the biggest quarterly gain since the period ended Dec. 31, 2010. “Farmers will plant more soybeans than people expect this year” because the rally improved the outlook for profit, Jacquie Voeks, a senior market adviser at West Bend, Wisconsin- based Stewart-Peterson Group, said in a telephone interview. “People are looking for larger U.S. supplies on March 1, reducing interest in holding” bets on higher prices, she said.
Soybean futures for May delivery dropped 0.7 percent to close at $13.6975 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Yesterday, the oilseed touched $13.885, the highest for a most-active contract since Sept. 14. Prices have gained 3.8 percent this month on speculation that smaller global crops will increase demand for supplies from the U.S., the world’s biggest grower.

Soybean futures closed 3 1/2 to 9 3/4 cents lower in the May to September contracts, with the front-month contract pacing losses. New-crop futures closed steady to 2 cents lower, with the November contract 1 3/4 cents lower. Futures finished on or near session lows. Soybean futures were under pressure for much of the day amid a variety of corrective price action. (Source: CME)

Soybean Complex Market Recap (Source: CME)
Tue 27 Mar 2012 14:15:00 CT
May Soybeans finished down 9 3/4 at 1369 3/4, 17 1/2 off the high and 1 up from the low. July Soybeans closed down 8 at 1376 1/4. This was 1 1/4 up from the low and 15 off the high. May Soymeal closed down 1.9 at 376.0. This was 2.0 up from the low and 3.7 off the high. May Soybean Oil finished down 0.33 at 55.1, 0.49 off the high and 0.09 up from the low. May soybeans closed moderately lower on the session but stayed inside of yesterday's range. The market saw some early buying support but the inability to take out yesterday's highs plus talk of the overbought condition of the market helped to spark a sell-off to moderately lower on the day into the mid-session. However, the active export pace and talk of the need to stay high to encourage soybean plantings helped to provide underlying support. A new high for the move in Malaysia palm oil prices overnight and a firm tone to China markets helped to support the market early and talk of South America declining production added to the positive tone. However, the COT report on Friday showed a record high net long position from fund traders and this may have sparked some long liquidation selling ahead of the key USDA reports for Friday morning. On the rally yesterday, open interest jumped 17,382 contracts to 679,157 which is a new 13-month high. Private exporters reported a sale of 120,000 tonnes of US soybeans to China for the 2012/13 season. The new high for the move and lower close (reversal) for May meal could be seen as a sign of a near-term top.

VEGOILS-Palm hits new one-year high on demand hopes
SINGAPORE, March 27 (Reuters) - Malaysian palm oil futures hit a new one-year high as traders bet on strong export growth after droughts had damaged the South American soy harvest that is crushed into competing soyoil.
"I see this at the last spike before correction again. Look at the (thin) volume, it's short-cover volume. Upside will stay at 3,500 ringgit," said a dealer with a foreign commodities brokerage in Malaysia.

Philippines' Feb coconut oil exports hit 8-month low
MANILA, March 27 (Reuters) - Coconut oil exports from the Philippines, the world's largest supplier, fell 42.7 percent in February to the lowest in eight months on weak global demand, industry data showed on Tuesday.
Shipments last month totaled 38,896 tonnes valued at $52 million, compared with 67,825 tonnes worth $122.6 million in February last year, according to the United Coconut Associations of the Philippines (UCAP).

Brazil soy crop seen down at 66.7 mln T -AgRural
SAO PAULO, March 26 (Reuters) - Brazil's 2011/12 soybean crop is seen falling to 66.7 million tonnes from 68 million tonnes forecast in February as the effects of drought in the southern producer states takes its toll, crop forecasters AgRural said on Monday.
Drought this season over the South American grain crop in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, which together produce over half the world's soy trade, has raised concers of falling stocks of the world's most important source of protien.