Thursday, March 29, 2012

20120329 1820 FCPO EOD Daily Chart Study.

FCPO closed : 3456, changed : -17 points, volume : lower.
Bollinger band reading : pullback correction upside biased.
MACD Histrogram : turned downward, buyer lock in profit.
Support : 3450, 3420, 3380, 3350 level.
Resistance : 3470, 3500, 3550, 3620 level.
Comment :
FCPO continue to pullback lower with slowing down volume participation. Soy oil price currently drifting between gain and losses after overnight closed weaker while crude oil price consolidating lower.
Buyers continue to lock in profit after price rallied hitting 1 year high reducing exposure ahead of Friday USDA report.
Technical chart study remained 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.

20120329 1740 FKLI EOD Daily Chart Study.

FKLI closed : 1584 changed : -1.5 points, volume : lower.
Bollinger band reading : side way range bound.
MACD Histrogram : falling, buyer seller battling.
Support : 1580, 1570, 1565, 1550 level.
Resistance : 1590, 1600, 1610, 1620 level.
Comment :
FKLI closed marginally lower with declined volume changed hand doing about 1.5 point discount compare to cash market that closed slightly higher. Overnight U.S. markets closed weaker and today Asia markets also ended in negative territory while European markets currently registering loss.
Slower than estimated U.S. durable orders growth and weaker China companies earnings sent global market lower.
Daily chart technical analysis switch to calling a side way range bound market development testing support and resistance level.
When to buy : buy at support or weakness with quick cut loss and profit target.
When to sell : sell at resistance or strength with quick cut loss and profit target.

20120329 1727 Regional Markets EOD Daily Chart Study.

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

20120329 1613 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares fall on U.S., China growth worries
TOKYO, March 29 (Reuters) - Asian shares fell for a second successive day as concerns about growth prospects in the world's two largest economies, the United States and China, prompted investors to trim their risk exposure ahead of the end of the quarter.
"I think China will see a temporary slowdown, which will trigger monetary and fiscal easing, and overall, the landing of Chinese economy will be soft," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior economist and strategist, Asia ex-Japan, at Credit Agricole CIB.

FOREX-Yen firms up, but year-end support seen waning
TOKYO, March 29 (Reuters) - The yen was a shade stronger across the board but could see renewed pressure as buying linked to Japan's financial year-end looks to have peaked.
Although the last day for spot trading in the business year to March 31 was on Wednesday, real-money flows from Tokyo kept main currencies under pressure against the yen, with some exporters spotted selling the dollar in large amounts.

GRAINS-Soy rises on supply concerns, market eyes USDA report
SINGAPORE, March 29 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures rose around half a percent as strong global oilseed demand and shrinking supplies after a drought in South America continued to support the market.
"The corn market is a little bit bearish pricing in Friday's report as there are going to be more planted acres for corn," said Abah Ofon, commodities analyst at Standard Chartered in Singapore.  

Argentina sees solid China soy demand even as economy slows
BUENOS AIRES, March 28 (Reuters) - China's economic slowdown will not choke demand for Argentine soy used to feed cattle, an official said on Wednesday, as the Asian country's emerging middle class clamors for beef.
China's strong buying of animal feed has defied forecasts  that imports would slow along with the country's downshift in economic growth. Argentina is the world's No. 1 exporter of soymeal, used as animal feed, and its No. 3 soybean supplier.

Normal US weather seen producing bumper corn crop
March 28 (Reuters) - Prospects for normal crop weather in the U.S. heartland combined with the largest planted area in almost seven decades could lead to a record large corn crop of nearly 14.0 billion bushels, an agricultural meteorologist said on Thursday.
Meteorologist Kyle Tapley of MDA EarthSat Weather, also known as Cropcast Weather, said his firm was pegging corn yield per acre at 161 bushels and corn production at a record 13.9 billion bushels, above the previous record of 13.1 billion.

Russia could export as much grain again in 2012/13
VORONEZH, Russia, March 28 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia could export almost as much grain in the coming crop year or even match the 27 million tonne level forecast for 2011/12, when exports have been running at record levels.
Russian grain exports are expected to reach between 25 million and 27 million tonnes in the 2012/13 crop year, Putin said during a meeting on spring sowing on Wednesday.

Brent near $124 as U.S. crude stocks rise offsets Iran
SINGAPORE, March 29 (Reuters) - Brent crude held steady near $124 as news of a surge in U.S. crude inventories and Western nations' talks on releasing strategic oil reserves offset supply disruption concerns over tension in the Middle East.
"There is residual selling from news flow overnight," said Ben Le Brun, a Sydney-based market analyst at brokerage OptionsXpress, pointing to the large build in U.S. crude inventories and the talks on releasing strategic oil stocks.

POSCO predicts global steel market rebound in Q2
SEOUL, March 28 (Reuters) - POSCO , the world's third-largest steelmaker, sees an improving global steel market in the next three months, after  bottoming out this quarter, and is considering reducing price discounts as the recovery takes hold.
The Korean firm last month described the first quarter as its "most difficult" earnings period, hurt by weak demand from shipbuilders as Chinese growth cooled, and due to the euro zone crisis.

Bank of China unit applies to London Metal Exchange
LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) - A unit of Bank of China  , one of China's big-four state-owned banks, has applied for membership of the London Metal Exchange, the LME said on Wednesday.
The application by Bank of China International (BOCI) Global Commodities will be for a category 2 LME membership, entitling it to trade in the electronic LMESelect and telephone markets, but not in the open outcry ring.

LME zinc stocks hit highest since May 1995
SINGAPORE, March 28 (Reuters) - Zinc stocks in warehouses monitored by the London Metal Exchange (LME) jumped to the highest in nearly 17 years on Wednesday, climbing steadily after years of market surpluses.  
LME stocks of zinc , a metal used to galvanise steel, jumped by 9,850 tonnes to 898,675 tonnes, latest LME data showed, which was the highest since May 1995, metals strategists at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and BNP Paribas said.

Japan's copper exports to China double in Feb
TOKYO, March 29 (Reuters) - Japan's exports of refined copper to China doubled in February from a year earlier despite the yen's record high level as Chinese buyers boosted purchases to stock up on expectations of rising demand during the peak March-May consumption season.  
Japan's exports to China rose to 26,902 tonnes from 13,142 tonnes a year earlier and from 13,045 tonnes in January.

China's iron ore physical platform to start trade on May 8
SHANGHAI, March 29 (Reuters) - China's first iron ore physical platform will start official trading on May 8 in a move to gain more control over pricing in a sector long dominated by foreign suppliers.
The China Beijing International Mining Exchange (CBMX), which launched the online platform in January, said in a statement trial runs had started on Thursday.

China's daily crude steel output rises in mid-March-CISA
SHANGHAI, March 29 (Reuters) - China's daily crude steel output rose 1.1 percent in the second ten days of March from the preceding period, industry data showed on Thursday, following on from a sharp rise earlier in the month.
Daily crude steel output stood at 1.919 million tonnes during March 11-20, the China Iron & Steel Association (CISA) said, up from 1.898 million tonnes in the previous ten days.

Vale says giant ore ships to win China OK in months
RIO DE JANEIRO, March 28 (Reuters) - Brazil's Vale , the world's No. 2 mining company, expects to win permission "within months" to unload its big, new iron-ore ships at Chinese ports, a move that will help ensure efficient delivery of raw materials to China's growing economy, a senior executive told Reuters.
The ships, known as very large ore carriers (VLOCs), or "Valemax" class vessels, are needed to meet soaring demand for iron ore, the main ingredient in steel, Tito Martins, Vale's chief financial officer, said in an interview at the Reuters Global Mining and Metals Summit.

Ukraine steel exports hit 3-yr low in Feb - agency
KIEV, March 28 (Reuters) - Exports of Ukrainian steel products, a key cash earner for the former Soviet republic, fell to 1.53 million tonnes in February, the lowest in three years, Ukrainian specialist news agency UGMK said on Wednesday.
Ukraine exported 2.07 million tonnes of steel in January and 2.26 million tonnes in December 2011.

Japan Feb zinc exports to China grow 4 times
TOKYO, March 29 (Reuters) - Japan's exports of refined zinc nearly doubled in February from a year earlier as shipments to China almost quadrupled while those to Taiwan surged 80 percent.  
China has recently emerged as the top importer of Japanese zinc, with shipments in February growing to 5,418 tonnes, up from 1,392 tonnes a year ago.

METALS-Copper steadies; growth worries cap gains
SINGAPORE, March 29 (Reuters) - Copper steadied clawing back from a loss of more than two percent in the prior session, but U.S. data indicating a weak start to the year may prompt investors to take profits off the table.
Prices closed down 2.2 percent on Wednesday, having started the week on a firmer footing on expectations of further monetary easing by the United States.  

PRECIOUS-Gold gives up early gains; tracks equities lower
SINGAPORE, March 29 (Reuters) - Gold fell after a rebound in the U.S. dollar erased early gains, while weaker equities also prompted investors to sell bullion to cover losses while waiting for more clues on the health of the U.S. economy.
Traders said the upcoming end-of-quarter was dampening trade, while the release of U.S. weekly jobless claims later could set the tone for the dollar. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 350,000 new filings compared with 348,000 in the prior week.

METALS-Copper steadies; growth worries cap gains
SINGAPORE, March 29 (Reuters) - Copper steadied, clawing back from a more than two percent loss in the prior session, but U.S. data indicating a weak start to the year may prompt investors to take profits off the table.
"Markets moved to take risk off yesterday, not just in commodities but across most financial markets. We saw reductions in oil, in part perhaps because of talks to release strategic reserves by the U.S. and others. That taken with the uninspiring U.S. data has encouraged people to take risk off," said Nick Trevethan, a senior commodity strategist at ANZ in Singapore.  

Japan's copper exports to China double in Feb
TOKYO, March 29 (Reuters) - Japan's exports of refined copper to China doubled in February from a year earlier despite the yen's record high level as Chinese buyers boosted purchases to stock up on expectations of rising demand during the peak March-May consumption season.  
Japan's exports to China rose to 26,902 tonnes from 13,142 tonnes a year earlier and from 13,045 tonnes in January.  

Gold gives up early gains; tracks equities lower
SINGAPORE, March 29 (Reuters) - Gold fell after a rebound in the U.S. dollar erased early gains, while weaker equities also prompted investors to sell bullion to cover losses while waiting for more clues on the health of the U.S. economy.
"There's end-quarter selling, some profit taking, and the dollar is a bit strong. People are only buying a small amount of physical gold because I think the global economy is still struggling," said Ronald Leung, director of Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.  

20120329 1118 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares ease on U.S., China growth worries
TOKYO, March 29 (Reuters) - Asian shares eased for a second day in a row on Thursday, as investors limited their risk exposures on concerns about growth prospects in the world's two largest economies, the United States and China.
"With the Chinese stock markets under pressure, the outlook on AUD will unlikely turnaround until we see some confirmation that the Chinese economy is not weakening too much and which should be affirmed by the release of the Chinese PMI (on Sunday)," said analysts at BNP Paribas.

COMMODITIES-Broadly lower; US oil futures down most in a week
NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) - Oil futures dropped their most in a week on Wednesday after a surge in U.S. crude stockpiles and on fear about the possible release of strategic oil reserves to cap pump prices.

OIL-Oil falls on rise in crude stocks, reserves talk
NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Wednesday as a big rise in U.S. crude inventories and the prospect the United States and some European nations might tap strategic reserves sent futures into retreat.
"It's a battle of the headlines that makes for a mostly bearish report," said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC.

NATURAL GAS-US natgas futures hit 10-year low ahead of April expiry
NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures ended down Wednesday, with April  hitting a 10-year spot low before expiration as record-high supplies, mild weather forecasts and expectations for a sizable inventory build on Thursday undercut prices for the third straight session.
"Prices hit another new low, and I think that's going to continue. There's a lot of gas around, there's not a lot of demand during the (spring) shoulder period," a Pennsylvania-based trader said.

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.

France discussing strategic oil release with UK, US
PARIS, March 28 (Reuters) - France is in talks with the United States and Britain on a possible release of strategic oil stocks to push fuel prices lower, French ministers said on  Wed nesday, four weeks before the country's presidential election.
Earlier in March, British sources said London was prepared to cooperate with Washington on a release of strategic oil stocks that was expected within months, in a bid to prevent fuel prices from choking economic growth in what is also a U.S. election year.

Consumers plot emergency oil release as Saudi decries high prices
PARIS/NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters)- Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi mounted his most direct rhetorical attack against high oil prices on We dnesday, but showed no sign of moving to increase supplies even as France joined the United States and Britain in talks for a release of strategic reserves.
Two weeks after Reuters initially reported that Britain and the United States were set to agree on tapping emergency stockpiles, French Energy Minister Eric Besson said the European nation was also in talks with Washington. Le Monde reported that the move could come in a matter of weeks.

Libya's oil contracts to be unsure for months more
LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) - Uncertainty about oil and gas companies' contracts with Libya, soon to be scrutinised and potentially revised, will persist until new leaders take power after June elections, delaying the industry's return to normal in the post-Gaddafi era.      
The transitional government has set up a special committee to investigate allegations of widespread corruption in the oil industry before the revolution unseated Muammar Gaddafi. Its determinations could lead to the withdrawal or reworking of now lucrative deals in the OPEC member, which has Africa's largest crude oil reserves.

Saudi minister doesn't promise more oil
--John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own--
LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) - Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi repeated previous criticisms about how traders and the media misunderstand the oil market and the country's policies, but made no promise of an immediate output increase, in an opinion article for the Financial Times on Wednesday.
Naimi wrote bluntly that "there is no rational reason for high oil prices." Instead he argued "fundamentally the market remains balanced. It is the perceived shortage of oil keeping prices high - not the reality on the ground. There is no lack of supply. There is no demand which cannot be met."

Regulator stalks physical oil markets
--John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own--
LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." So said nineteenth century American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Even allowing for a little sensible inconsistency, it is hard to reconcile the contrasting approaches to financial and physical oil market regulation set out in recent speeches and articles by CFTC Commissioner Scott O'Malia and Liz Bossley, chief executive of the Consilience Energy Advisory Group.

20120329 1001 Local & Global Economy Related News.

Government-owned public transport operator Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd is planning a high rise real estate project over the existing Dang Wangi light rapid transit (LRT) station with an estimated gross development value of RM200m. It MD Datuk Shahril Mokhtar said Prasarana had last week chosen a local property developer as its joint venture partner following the close of a recent exercise to seek proposals. The announcement will soon be made, he said. The project will comprise office and residential properties to be built on the existing structure of the LRT station. (Financial Daily)

Fund raising approved by the Securities Commission (SC) rose 54.4% to RM118.9bn in 2011 from RM77bn in 2010, with private debt securities (PDS) accounting for the bulk of the fund raising. The Malaysian capital market continued to grow in 2011, with IPOs accounting for RM6.6bn and PDS RM112.3bn. This was a contrast to 2010 when IPOs accounted for RM13.4bn and PDS RM63.6bn, it said. The sukuk approvals had more than doubled to RM78.9bn from RM38.3bn in 2010. Malaysia remains at the forefront of the sukuk market, accounting for 73% of the total sukuk issued globally, it said. On the equity market capitalization, it was RM1.28tr at end-2011 while overall average trading activity increased by 31.6% to a daily average of 1.34bn units from a year ago. The total fund raised in equity market fell to RM12.6bn in 2011 from RM32.1bn in 2010, which in line with a general slowdown in IPO activities worldwide. (Financial Daily)

Malaysia is in the midst of a journey towards the transformation of its healthcare system to ensure successful and sustainable, relevant health care needs of its citizens, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai. "We have been given two years to come up with a blueprint on healthcare transformation. By 2014, we hope this blueprint will be ready and the public can continue to be engaged and give the feedback," he said. (Bernama)

The issue of the Lynas rare earth plant will not disrupt the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations between Malaysia and Australia, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed. The trade pact between Kuala Lumpur and Canberra is expected to be signed in May this year. (Bernama)

Asian policy makers are preparing to double a US$120bn reserve pool to defend the region against shocks, reducing their reliance on traditional backstops such as the IMF as Europe saps resources. (Bloomberg)

Thailand’s exports rose 0.9% yoy in Feb (-6% in Jan), exceeding market expectations of a 5% drop. Imports rose 8.3% yoy in Feb (-4.2% in Jan), compared with the 6.1% forecast. As a result, the trade balance reverted to a surplus of US$0.53bn from a deficit of US$1.13bn in Jan. (Bloomberg)

Thailand’s manufacturing production index fell 3.4% yoy in Feb (-15% in Jan). The capital utilisation rate, which measures actual output against total production capacity, increased to 62.3% in Feb from Jan’s 58.5%. (Bloomberg, Dow Jones)

Vietnam’s exports rose 23.6% yoy in Mar (24.8% in Feb), while import growth eased to 6.9% yoy in Mar (11.8% in Feb). (Bloomberg)

Vietnamese agricultural exports are forecast to reach nearly US$5.9bn in 1Q12, on par with the same period last year, according to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat. (Vietnam News)

Vietnamese industrial production surged only 4.1% yoy in 1Q12, the slowest in five years; in last year's economic downturn, the index still grew 9.3% in the same period. (Vietnam News)

Vietnam: Trade gap narrows in March, supporting currency
Vietnam’s trade deficit narrowed in March as exports rose, supporting the currency. The gap fell to USD150m from a revised USD279m in February, based on preliminary figures released by the General Statistics. The shortfall totalled USD251m in the first three months of the year. (Bloomberg)

Indonesia’s Ministry of Transportation has restricted the increase of public transport tariff to 20% at most. It is lower than the proposed increase of Land Transportation Entrepreneurs Organization of 35% upon the fuel price hike. (IFT)

Myanmar: To float currency
Myanmar announced an overhaul of its antiquated currency system as part of burgeoning reforms to modernize an economy left in disarray by decades of military rule and isolation. The impoverished nation will adopt a managed floating exchange rate from 1 April, allowing market forces to determine the value of the kyat, while leaving room for the central bank to influence its value, state media said. It described the move as the first step towards unifying the nation's various exchange rates. (BT)

Singapore Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan reassured that Singapore investors are still confident in China's development, despite signs of a slowdown in its economy. (CNA)

South Korea: Returns to current-account surplus in February
South Korea returned to a current- account surplus in February as exports rose amid signs of an improving US economy and as the euro zone debt crisis eased. The surplus was USD639m, compared with a revised USD969m deficit in January, the Bank of Korea said in Seoul. The current account is the broadest measure of trade, tracking goods, services and investment income. (Bloomberg)

Japan’s ruling party completed its plan to double the nation’s consumption tax, clearing the way for legislative approval and submission to parliament, after including a provision that the levy could be halted in the event of “drastic” changes to the country’s economic outlook. The Cabinet is scheduled on 30 Mar to approve the measure to raise the sales levy to 8% in Apr 2014 and 10% in Oct 2015. (Bloomberg)

Bank of Japan policy board member Ryuzo Miyao pledged to keep decisively steering monetary policy, branding the central bank's recent easing campaign a way out of the nation's persistent deflation. (WSJ)

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti blamed Europe's debt woes partly on the irresponsible parenting of Germany and France during the bloc's infancy. (AFP)

EU: European loan growth slowed in February on faltering economy
Growth in loans to households and companies in the 17-nation euro area slowed in February as a cooling economy curbed demand for credit. Loans to the private sector grew 0.7% from a year earlier after gaining an annual 1.1% in January, the ECB said. The rate of growth in M3 money supply, which the Frankfurt-based ECB uses as a gauge of future inflation, increased to 2.8% from 2.5%. (Bloomberg)

ECB action to shore up the euro zone financial system failed to prevent the region’s banks scaling back lending to the private sector last month, which fell from 1.1% yoy in Jan to 0.7% in Feb. (FT)

Eurozone M3 money supply grew 2.8% yoy in Feb, accelerating from 2.5% in Jan. Analysts had expected a 2.4% growth. (Reuters)

European governments are preparing for a one-year increase in the ceiling on rescue aid to €940bn to keep the debt crisis at bay, according to a draft statement written for finance ministers. However, ECB Governing Council member Jens Weidmann was adamant that boosting Europe’s rescue funds will not solve its debt crisis. (Bloomberg)

UK: Economy shrinks more than first estimated
The UK economy shrank more than previously estimated in the 4th quarter as services companies from airlines to banks cut output amid concerns about the euro region debt crisis. GDP fell 0.3% from the third quarter, compared with a previously estimated 0.2% drop, the Office of National Statistics said.(StarBiz)

US: Orders for durable goods in US show sustained demand
Orders placed with US factories for durable goods rose in February for a fourth month in the last five, signalling manufacturing will remain a source of strength for the expansion. Bookings for goods meant to last at least three years advanced 2.2%, less than projected, after a revised 3.6% decline in January, data from the Commerce Department showed. Orders excluding transportation equipment increased 1.6%, in line with the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. (Bloomberg)

The MBA index of US purchase applications rose 3.3% wow in the week ended 23 Mar (-1.0% in the prior week), whilst the refinance index fell 4.6% wow, moderating from the -9.3% in the earlier week as rates rose in the week. (Bloomberg)

20120329 1000 Malaysia Corporate Related News.

IGB Corp, Selia Pantai JV project to kick start next year
The estimated RM6bn Southkey Megamall development in Johor by IGB Corp through a JV with a Johor-based property developer is expected to start next year, according to IGB Corp group MD Robert Tan Chung Meng. Tan said a full planning and study of the project will be conducted first before signing a definitive agreement within the next one to two months which will be undertaken between IGB Corp and Selia Pantai SB. (Malaysian Reserve)

May listing for Thai AirAsia
A listing in May is what Tan Sri Tony Fernandes is looking at for Thai AirAsia and sometime in October for Indo AirAsia. And he has not given up hopes of trying to list AirAsia X this year too. “There will be two listings this year. If we can add AirAsia X, and I am confident we can, we will have three listings this year,” the group CEO said. (StarBiz)

AirAsia is now zooming on South Korea and two other Asean countries to set up new operations as it widens its reach to more countries in the Asia-Pacific. “In North Asia, the next potential is South Korea and we are closing in on Japan as that is where our next launch will be,” Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said. “We are also looking at adding two more countries in Asean and we hope to announce that within the next six to eight months. We are at a very advance stage of discussions,” he added. Fernandes declined to name the two countries, although the market is saying that it may include Myanmar and Vietnam. (Star Biz)

Bintai Kinden JV bags RM405m Singapore MRT jobs
Bintai Kinden Corp secured a SGD166.23m (RM405.2m) worth of contracts via a joint venture for Singapore’s MRT line extension, the Downtown Line Stage 3 project. The contract will be for the supply and installation of electrical services worth SGD78.23m as well as the supply and installation of tunnel ventilation and environmental control systems worth SGD87.94m. (Financial Daily)

Key West acquires Manjung Niaga for USD52.5m
Key West Global Telecommunication, together with Maryland International Offshore Ltd, has acquired Manjung Niaga SB (MNSB) for USD52.5m (RM160.65m) as part of Key West’s plans to position itself as an oil and gas player. Key West has 78.9% equity interest and Maryland 21.1%. Key West executive director Stephen Ng said MNSB owns 95% of PT Formasi Sumatera Energi, which owns a 15-year Kerja Sama Operasi concession to reactive and optimize the production of petroleum resources in the Tanjung Time Timur field in South Sumatera, Indonesia. (Financial Daily)

Cypark units in green energy pact with TNB
Cypark Resources, via two wholly-owned subsidiaries, has signed renewable energy power purchase agreement with TNB for a feed-in-tariff concession period. The 21-year concession is for electricity generated from Cypark’s 8MW solar park in Pajam, Negri Sembilan. (BT)

QSR Brands Bhd will spend up to RM10m to open another 20 Pizza Hut Delivery (PHD) outlets nationwide by year-end as part of its expansion plan, said managing director, Jamaludin Md Ali. "As of Feb 21 last year, we have 42 PHD outlets, which contributed 5% to our 2011 revenue of RM20m," he said. Jamaludin said the delivery arm of Pizza Hut has a lot of potential and QSR expected a double-digit growth in revenue this year. On sales, he said, 70% came from the delivery business and 30% from take-away. "We also see a potential in online ordering, which made up 5% of the delivery business. In Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, online ordering made up over 20% of their businesses," he said. For Pizza Hut's dine-in outlets, Jamaludin said, the company planned to invest another RM10m to set up another 10 in the country. "For overseas, we plan to open another one or two outlets in Singapore," he said. On the Johor Corp buyout deal, Jamaludin said announcements would be made soon. (Bernama)

The Securities Commission (SC) has hinted at a bigger and more eventful year for the local capital market. This follows the SC’s plans to introduce a slew of new initiatives after the domestic market closed 2011 strongly in terms of new listings, fund-raising value and even criminal actions, among others. Some RM118.9bn worth of fund raising was approved in 2011 compared with RM77.0bn in 2010, the SC said in a statement in conjunction with the release of its 2011 annual report yesterday. This reflected strong confidence in the fund-raising environment and sukuk approvals, which more than doubled to RM78.9 bn from RM38.3bn in 2010. A total 14 initial public offerings (IPOs) for Bursa Malaysia’s Main Market were also approved last year. However, the total funds raised via the equity market fell to RM12.6bn from RM32.1bn the year before, in line with a general slowdown in IPO activities worldwide. (BT)

The investigation into the share swap agreement between Malaysian Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia is continuing, said the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC). The investigation would take a longer time as it is a complex process involving the examination of the agreements. The probe into the share swap deal would focus on whether it involved an abuse of monopoly or the formation of a cartel. (Bernama)

Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) plans to hedge more of its U.S. dollar debt, in an atmosphere of ringgit appreciation that it believes will boost profits this year, its chief financial officer said. Malaysia's state-owned fixed-line operator has hedged US$200m, or 26% of its total U.S. dollar debt at the end of 2011, but plans to increase the hedged amount going forward, Bazlan Osman told Dow Jones Newswires. The company's foreign currency exposure is primarily from US$765m in debt, comprising US$465m in bonds due in 2014 and US$300m bonds due in 2025. That's about 39% of its total borrowing. "Telekom Malaysia will make an unrealized forex gain on the unhedged portion of foreign currency debt should the ringgit strengthen," Bazlan said. He also added that every time the ringgit strengthens 1%, or approximately MYR0.03, Telekom Malaysia's unrealized forex gain is around MYR18m. TM reduced its dollar exposure by redeeming a US$260m debt upon its maturity in 2010. It also bought back US$75m in debt in 2009. TM expects the ringgit to strengthen to below 3.00 against the dollar by the end of 2012, Bazlan said. The ringgit hit a year-to-date high of 2.9950 against the U.S. dollar on March 1, and is currently trading at 3.0655 to the dollar. (Dow Jones)

Maxis Bhd has tied up with the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) as its official mobile service provider for the 2012 London Olympic Games. The partnership allows Maxis to become the exclusive mobile service provider for the Malaysian contingent. "A large portion of our customer base is young people, and a lot of these events are related to young people, inspire young people, and so forth," said Maxis chief executive officer Sandip Das. Under the partnership, each Malaysian athlete will get RM1,500 worth of air time for voice calls and text messages, among others. Sandip, however, declined to comment if the company will be the main Malaysian sponsor for another major global sporting event, the Euro 2012. (BT)

The scrapping of the proposed RM7bn aluminium smelting plant project in Similajau near Bintulu, will not affect the implementation of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score), Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said. He said there are probably two other investors on the waiting list following the termination of the pact between Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), Rio Tinto Aluminium Malaysian and Sarawak Energy to construct the plant. "In fact, Sarawak is short of power for aluminium smelter at the moment and can only accommodate one project at a time. So if this one is not on, it does not matter," he said. (Bernama, Financial Daily)

Sarawak Energy confirmed that it was unable to reach agreement on the tariff for a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Rio Tinto/Sarawak Aluminium Co (Salco) for the proposed aluminium smelter at Samalaju Industrial Park near Bintulu. “Despite the inability to reach agreement, the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) agenda is forging ahead, with SEB expected to sell more than 2000 megawatts of power to export customers. This means the entire firm output of the Bakun hydroelectric facility is already committed. There is now a long queue of potential customers competing for SEB’s remaining power,” Sarawak Energy’s CEO Torstein Dale Sjotveit said. (Bernama, Financial Daily)

Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd (AB) has inked an 8-year conventional life insurance arrangement with AIA Bhd, and expects its wealth management business to gain significant momentum. Under this bancassurance arrangement, AB will sell, market and promote conventional life insurance protection and savings products developed by AIA to its customers. AB Group chief executive officer Sng Seow Wah told reporters that the bancassurance value proposition will complement the joint venture the bank had established with AIA to offer takaful insurance. Alliance Bank has a total customer base of 1.1m. (BT)

Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) has signed a heads of agreement (HoA) with global oil and gas major, Total of France to jointly study the development and production potential of a gas field in offshore Sarawak. Under the HoA, Petronas' newly established upstream research unit - Exploration and Production Technology Centre - and Total will explore the possibility of developing the field. (Malaysian Reserve)

UMW Toyota is maintaining its year-end sales target of 93,000 units, despite the stricter lending guidelines imposed by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). UMW Toyota president Ismet Suki said the firm had experienced "minimal impact" on its sales since the implementation of the new lending guidelines. "We have not seen the effect at all, the impact is minimum, partly I believe it's because our customers have good credit rating," Ismet said. (BT)

A joint venture between Bintai Kindenko Pte Ltd, a unit of Bintai Kinden Corp Bhd, and South Korea-based Samsung C&T Corp has secured two projects in Singapore worth RM405m. Bintai Kinden said the first project was for the supply and installation of electrical services worth RM190m. The second project was for the supply and installation of tunnel ventilation and environmental control systems worth RM214m. The contracts are expected to be completed by Dec-2016. (BT)

YTL Corp may buy power, cement or property assets in Asia in the next six months to expand its business in the region, managing director Tan Sri Dr Francis Yeoh said. The group has identified targets and may make purchase in the second or third quarter. YTL made a RM1.06bn offer in December to buy out YTL Cement through a share swap. The company may double its dividend payout, which was two sen per share in the year ended June 30, after the purchase of YTL Cement, Dr Yeoh said. (Malaysian Reserve)

Century Logistics Holdings Bhd, which is actively scouting for land in Johor, Port Klang and Shah Alam to expand its warehousing capacity, has bought a two-storey factory and office buildings in Bandar Sultan Suleiman, Port Klang from Nakamichi Corp Bhd for RM19m. With a 289,721 sq ft built-up, Century told Bursa Malaysia yesterday that the facility will be used to house its procurement logistics operation. (The Sun Daily)

WCT: OCBC emerges a substantial shareholder
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd (OCBC) has emerged as a substantial shareholder in construction company WCT after it acquired 5.01% stake in WCT. WCT said the Singaporebased bank had acquired 40.98m shares in the open market on Monday. The closing price for WCT shares on Monday was at RM2.51. Meanwhile, WCT also informed that Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP) had acquired a total of 2.14m of WCT shares on Wednesday and Thursday last week. As a result, KWAP now holds a 6.04% stake in WCT. (StarBiz)

BRDB: To proceed with disposal of properties
Bandar Raya (BRDB) will proceed with the proposed disposal of BR Property Holdings Sdn Bhd, CapSquare Retail Centre and Permas Jusco Mall via a tender exercise. BRDB said its board noted that while  Ambang Sehati Sdn Bhd, its second largest shareholder, is still evaluating its plan to increase its stake in the company (which may or may not result in a general offer), the latter has yet to confirm its decision to proceed with the exercise. BRDB said it was working with its legal and financial advisers to implement the proposed disposal in an efficient manner. (StarBiz)

Proton: Mustapa says Proton, Perodua should continue collaboration
Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI),  Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Proton and Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) should continue to collaborate in areas they had previously agreed on. This, he added, is despite the recent developments in the pioneer national car maker. He said the  collaboration talks, had benefited both carmakers and the automotive industry, as a whole. Mustapa said MITI would continue to engage with both national car companies. He also said that he was given a briefing by DRBHicom Bhd last week. Perodua  MD Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh said recently that the compact car maker is open to collaboration talks with DRB-Hicom. However, he reiterated that Perodua, as the country's largest car maker, is still against any kind of merger between the two entities. (Financial Daily)

Shell Refining Co: New diesel processing unit ready by year-end
Shell Refining Company (Federation of Malaya) said its new diesel processing unit is 73% complete and is expected to be commissioned by year-end. Its chairman Anuar Taib said the new 6,000 tonnes per day diesel processing unit, which cost RM810m, will allow the company to vary feedstock options and is expected to improve refining margins. He said the company's profitability this year would depend not only on crude oil prices, but the prices of oil processed products. (Financial Daily)

Eng Teknologi: Board accepts revised takeover offer, to seek shareholders’ consent
The board of Eng Teknologi Holdings has accepted the revised takeover offer of RM2 a share by the founders and major shareholders of the hard disk drive component manufacturer. In a statement to the exchange on Wednesday, Eng Teknologi said its directors will seek the company’s shareholders’ consent on the revised offer at an extraordinary general meeting. Founders of Eng Teknologi Datuk Teh Yong Khoon, and Low Yeow Siang via private vehicle TYK Capital Sdn Bhd, have proposed to lower the offer price to RM2 from RM2.50 as their financiers were unable to justify the funding of the takeover at RM2.50. OSK Investment Bank is the independent adviser for the exercise. (Financial Daily)

Nakamichi Corporation: Disposes of disused plant for RM19m
Nakamichi Corporation is disposing of a piece of industrial land and disused building in Port Klang for RM19m. It said on Wednesday it had signed a sale and purchase agreement with Century Advance  Technology Sdn Bhd. Nakamichi said the proposed disposal of property included a double-storey factory with an annexed double-storey office building and warehouse. This property has been vacant since 2007 with the relocation of the company’s then audio and visual business to Singapore in 2007. The audio and visual business has since ceased operations in early 2011. (Financial Daily)

Bintai Kinden Corporation: JV with Samsung gets S$166m contracts
A subsidiary of Bintai Kinden Corporation and its partner Samsung C&T Corporation have secured S$166.23m (RM405.10m) in contracts from Singapore’s Land Transport & Authority. Bintai Kinden said the contracts were for the downtown line Stage 3 project of its mass rapid transit in Singapore. The first contract was to supply and install electrical services for contract value of S$78.29m. The second contract was to supply and install tunnel ventilation and environmental control systems for S$87.93m. The JV comprised of Samsung C&T Corp and Bintai Kinden’s subsidiary Bintai Kindenko Pte Ltd (BKPL). Samsung holds a 60% stake in the JV and BKPL 40%. The contracts are due for completion by end-2016. (Financial Daily)

Ho Hup Construction: Court ordered to buy over minority stake in BJD
Ho Hup Construction Company has been ordered by the High Court to buy over Zen Courts Sdn Bhd’s 30% stake in its subsidiary Bukit Jalil Development Sdn Bhd (BJD). The buyout order was made on a petition brought by Zen Courts against Ho Hup, its subsidiary Ho Hup Equipment Rental Sdn Bhd and BJD. The company said when the buyout is completed, it will give Ho Hup 100% of BJD, which holds 24ha of freehold land in Bukit Jalil. (Financial Daily)

Oil & Gas: OSV players face stiff competition
Petronas and other oil majors are planning significant spending was seen as a great boon for local oil and gas (O&G) support services providers. But, the Malaysian OSV Owners Association (OSV Malaysia) said this may not translate into an immediate windfall for domestic offshore support vessel (OSV) operators given the intensifying competition, particularly from foreign players. OSV Malaysia president Tasripin Masotee said local OSV players are unable to offer competitive rates  because they do not enjoy the tax benefits given to Malaysian merchant shippers. These include tax exemption for spare parts, lower corporate tax and no personal tax for crew members. (Financial Daily)

Gamuda Q2 net profit up at RM147.3m
Gamuda Bhd’s net profit for the second quarter ended January 31 2012 rose to RM147.3 million from RM96.97 million recorded in the same period last year. In a statement to Bursa Malaysia yesterday, revenue increased to RM769.33 million from RM607.19 million a year ago. It said the better performance was due to higher contributions from the higher work progress from the electrified double tracking project in the construction division and existing property projects in Malaysia and Celadon City’s land sale to Aeon Co of Japan. (Source: Business Times)

20120329 0948 Global Commodities Related News.

U.S. Heat Waves to Intensify From New York to Los Angeles (Source: Bloomberg)
Heat waves are likely to intensify and last longer from California to the U.S. East Coast as global warming takes hold, according to the United Nations’s most comprehensive report on extreme weather events. Average wind speeds of hurricanes are likely to increase, with projected sea level rises compounding the impact of surges associated with the storms, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a 594-page report today that examines weather impacts from Alaska to Africa and Australia. Coastal areas around the world, especially large cities and small islands, are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change and as much as $35 trillion, or 9 percent of projected global economic output in 2070, may be exposed to climate-related hazards in ports, the panel said. That may increase the need for migration, according to the authors.
“The decision about whether or not to move is achingly difficult and it’s one that the world community is going to have to face with increasing frequency in the future,” Chris Field, one of the report’s authors and a professor at Stanford University, said today on a conference call with reporters.

GRAINS-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.

Bangladesh to end ban on aromatic rice exports -minister
DHAKA, March 28 (Reuters) - Bangladesh will soon end a three-year-old ban on exports of aromatic rice due to bulging domestic reserves and record crops, a government minister said on Wednesday.
Bangladesh, the world's fourth-biggest rice producer, banned overseas shipments of common varieties in May 2008 following a sharp drop in domestic stocks, and banned the export of all varieties one year later.

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.

EU wheat too expensive for export -Toepfer
HAMBURG, March 27 (Reuters) - European Union milling wheat is currently too expensive for export, Germany's leading grain trading house Toepfer International said on Tuesday.
"The prices for EU milling wheat are currently supported by a brisk demand for feed wheat within the EU," Toepfer said. "In addition, bad harvest prospects in Spain due to a recent lack of rainfall made prices firm for (delivery) positions after the next harvest."

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.

Corn futures closed mostly 10 1/2 to 14 cents lower, which was on or near session lows. Corn futures faced aggressive liquidation pressure with funds leading the selloff as traders prepare for what they expect will be bearish report data from USDA Friday morning. Funds sold an estimated 20,000 contracts (100 million bu.) of corn today. (Source: CME)

Corn Market Recap for 3/28/2012 (Source: CME)
Wed 28 Mar 2012 14:15:00 CT
May Corn finished down 10 1/2 at 620 1/4, 14 1/2 off the high and 1 1/4 up from the low. July Corn closed down 11 1/4 at 619 1/2. This was 1 1/4 up from the low and 15 off the high. May corn opened higher and closed sharply lower on the session which is a pattern seen in the past three sessions. Funds have been aggressive sellers (thought to be long liquidation) ahead of key reports for Friday and ahead of what appears to be the fastest planting period on record just ahead, The market is already down more than 55 cents from last weeks highs and nearly 40 cents off of Monday's peak. Ideas that the market was oversold and talk that China may be a buyer on further weakness helped to support the market overnight and early today. There were rumors that private buyers from China bought 3-6 cargoes of US corn with some of the total for old crop delivery. Weak ethanol production, a higher US dollar and weakness in crude oil and metal markets helped to spark some selling early which may have sparked more fund selling. The move under yesterday's lows attracted more selling and a push to the lowest level since January 23rd. Ethanol production for the week ending March 23rd averaged 889,000 barrels per day. This is down 0.45% vs. last week and down 1.55% vs. last year. Corn used in last week's production is estimated at 94.7 million bushels. Corn use needs to average 94.128 million bushels per week to meet this crop year's USDA estimate. Stocks were 22.628 million barrels. This is down 0.37% vs. last week and up 12.62% vs. last year. December corn pushed lower on more talk of excellent weather for a record fast start to the planting season next week and the selling pushed the market to the lowest level since December 16th. Long liquidation selling ahead of the USDA reports Friday remain as a dominate force. May Rice finished down 0.355 at 14.74, 0.02 off the high and 0.08 up from the low.

Wheat futures sank into the close, with front-month contracts at all three exchanges ending 8 1/2 to 9 cents lower. Wheat followed corn, which posted even stiffer daily losses. A combination of strength in the U.S. dollar index and position squaring ahead of Friday's key USDA reports led to heavy fund selling. (Source: CME)

Wheat Market Recap Report (Source: CME)
Wed 28 Mar 2012 14:15:00 CT
May Wheat finished down 9 at 630 3/4, 15 1/2 off the high and 3/4 up from the low. July Wheat closed down 9 1/4 at 643 1/2. This was 1 up from the low and 15 1/2 off the high. May wheat opened higher and closed sharply lower on the session to experience the lowest close since January 20th. The push higher in the US dollar and weakness in other key commodity markets including corn helped to pressure the market into the mid-session after a firm start. In addition, mid-day weather models were a little warmer for the 11-15 day outlook which helped ease fears of cold weather damage. May wheat is already down as much as 40 1/2 cents from Monday's highs. Egypt bought 120,000 tonnes of wheat at their tender with half going to Argentina and the US. Russia grain exports for the 2012/13 season are expected to come in near 25-27 million tonnes, according to Prime Minister Putin. He also indicated production would be flat against last year at 94 million tonnes. European weather looks too dry for the two week outlook which might help to provide some underlying support. Ukraine producers are expected to harvest 50 million tonnes of grain this year according to the deputy agriculture minister but the wheat harvest may be as low as 10 million tonnes from 22 million last year. May Oats closed up 2 1/4 at 342 1/4. This was 3 1/4 up from the low and 2 3/4 off the high.

Soy Rebounds On Chinese Demand, Corn Near 1-Month Low (Source: CME)
By Thomson Reuters - Wed 28 Mar 2012 10:36:59 CT
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.

Cotton futures rallied into the close to finish 21 to 144 points higher in the 2012 contract, with 2013 contracts up 1 to 20 points. Much of today's support came from comments made by the China Cotton Association, as it reduced its forecast of the country's cotton acreage. It's most recent survey suggests Chinese cotton acreage will decline by 16.7% from year-ago compared to a previous forecast for a 10.5% decline in cotton plantings. (Source: CME)

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.

Warm, Dry Weather to Threaten Some U.S. Crops, Earthsat Says (Source: Bloomberg)
Warmer, drier weather expected during the next five months will aid early U.S. crop planting this year and threaten some yields in already parched fields from Texas to North Dakota, according to Earthsat Weather. The decaying La Nina weather pattern that damaged crops in South America with dry weather during the past three months will lead to a fast U.S. planting season, increasing the yield potential for crops east of a line from eastern Texas to western Minnesota, Kyle Tapley, a meteorologist at Earthsat, a Gaithersburg, Maryland-based MDA Information Systems Inc. unit, said today at the company’s conference in Chicago. A weather pattern that is warmer and drier than normal from June to August may trim corn and soybeans yields in the western Midwest, with normal weather seen in the heart of the Midwest, he said. There is a 25 percent risk that the period will be cooler than the official forecast, Tapley said.
Adverse weather in parts of the Midwest will have a limited impact on production because the fast start to U.S. sowing will boost areas planted and accelerate crop development for the hottest summer weather, Tapley said. U.S. corn yields may rise to 161 bushels an acre, increasing production 15 percent to 13.923 billion bushels, compared with 12.358 billion a year earlier with a yield of 147.2 bushels an acre, Tapley said. Soybean output may rise 9.7 percent to 3.245 billion bushels from 3.056 billion in 2011, he said.

Oil Trades Near One-Week Low on Stockpile Gain, Reserves (Source: Bloomberg)
Oil traded near the lowest close in almost a week in New York after U.S. inventories surged and Western countries discussed tapping emergency reserves. West Texas Intermediate futures were little changed after falling 1.8 percent yesterday. Crude stockpiles rose 7.1 million barrels last week, the biggest increase since July 2010, according to the Energy Department. They were forecast to gain by 2.6 million barrels, a Bloomberg News survey showed. The U.S. proposed releasing oil from strategic reserves, French Industry Minister Eric Besson said. A White House official said no decision has been made. “We’ve had a weak demand scenario for some time in the U.S.,” said Michael McCarthy, a chief market strategist at CMC Markets Asia Pacific Pty in Sydney. “Any actual release of strategic reserves would probably take us below $100 a barrel for West Texas.”
Oil for May delivery was at $105.44 a barrel, up 3 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11:57 a.m. Sydney time. It slumped yesterday to $105.41, the lowest close since March 22. Prices are 6.9 percent higher this year, heading for a second quarterly gain.

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.

Australian manufacturers seek cap on gas exports
SYDNEY, March 28 (Reuters) - A group of eight top Australian manufacturers has urged the government to cap gas exports to protect domestic industries from sharp price rises they would face if forced to compete with overseas buyers for the fuel.
The companies, which have formed the lobby group Manufacturing Australia, said domestic manufacturers faced export-level prices for future gas contracts that are double  production costs, hurting their competitiveness.

Myanmar's govt details oil, gas output and reserves
YANGON, March 28 (Reuters) - Myanmar currently produces 19,600 barrels per day of crude oil and 1.475 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas, a senior government energy official said on Wednesay.
Htin Aung, director general of the Ministry of Energy's Energy Planning Department, gave the figures at a conference that organisers say is the first major oil industry gathering in Myanmar since the Southeast Asian country's transition to a civilian government last year.

Palladium Seen Beating Gold With Record Car Sales: Commodities (Source: Bloomberg)
Investors are buying palladium at the fastest pace in more than a year as analysts predict rising demand and declining supply will turn this quarter’s worst- performing precious metal into the best by December. Holdings in palladium-backed exchange-traded products rose 13 percent this year, poised for the best quarter since the end of 2010, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The metal will average $850 an ounce in the final three months of 2012, 30 percent more than now, according to the median estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. They expect a gain of 13 percent for gold, 11 percent for silver and 9.8 percent for platinum. Palladium lagged behind other metals this year on concern about slowing growth in vehicle sales in China, the world’s largest car market. Autocatalysts account for 65 percent of demand, according to Barclays Capital.
Prices are poised to rise because carmakers are still using the most metal ever, with the prospect of shortages because of less supply from state reserves in Russia, the biggest producer, the bank estimates. “I like palladium the best among precious metals, it’s relatively cheap compared to the others,” said Bart Melek, the head of commodity strategy at TD Securities Inc. in Toronto and the most accurate price forecaster tracked by Bloomberg Rankings in the eight quarters through the end of 2011. “Autocatalyst demand for palladium should grow. Russian government stocks will limit supply growth.”

20120329 0948 Global Market Related News.

Asian Stocks Fall as U.S. Factory Orders Miss Estimates (Source: Bloomberg)
Asian stocks fell for a second day after orders placed with U.S. factories for durable goods rose less than economists estimated, damping the earnings outlook for the region’s exporters. Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), Asia’s biggest carmaker by market value that gets 28 percent of its revenue in North America, fell 1 percent. BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), Australia’s biggest oil producer, slid 0.9 percent as crude oil prices traded near the lowest close in a week. Leighton Holdings Ltd. (LEI), Australia’s largest construction company, slumped 6.5 percent after cutting its profit forecast for the 2012 fiscal year because wet weather and lower-than-expected productivity raised costs.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.2 percent to 127.01 as of 9:38 a.m. in Tokyo, having lost 1.5 percent this month. The measure added 11.8 percent this year through yesterday, headed for the biggest three-month gain since the third quarter of 2010, amid speculation a strengthening U.S. recovery will boost the earnings for Asia’s exporters. “With all the good news being factored in, we are coming to a tougher period and markets are vulnerable to any bad news,” said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which has almost $100 billion under management. “We are starting to see data come out on the softer side of what’s expected. On its own, the durable goods data is still consistent with the economic growth in the U.S.”

Japan Stocks Fall Second Day as U.S. Factory Orders Slip (Source: Bloomberg)
Japanese stocks declined for a second day after orders placed with U.S. factories for durable goods rose less than economists estimated and commodity prices dropped, driving down trading companies. Mitsui & Co. (8031), a trading house that counts commodities as its biggest source of revenue, fell 1.7 percent. Nissan Motor Co., a carmaker that gets about a third of its revenue from North America, fell 0.9 percent. Showa Denko K.K., a chemical products producer, retreated 3.1 percent after postponing the restart of one of its factories. Sharp Corp. jumped 5.6 percent, extending yesterday’s surge on Foxconn Technology Group’s plan to invest in the liquid-crystal-display manufacturer. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) dropped 0.4 percent to 10,139.61 as of 9:28 a.m. in Tokyo, headed for its longest losing streak since March 7. The broader Topix Index slid 0.4 percent to 861.15, with about four stocks falling for every three that gained.

U.S. Stocks Fall on Economic Data as Energy Shares Slump (Source: Bloomberg)
U.S. stocks fell, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index down for a second day, as a slump in crude oil drove energy producers lower and government data showed that orders for durable goods rose less than forecast. Exxon Mobil Corp. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY) paced losses in 42 out of 43 energy companies in the S&P 500 as oil slumped following an increase in supplies. The Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index of companies most-tied to the economy lost 1.6 percent as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the recovery isn’t assured. Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) and Alcoa Inc. (AA) slid more than 2.2 percent. Financial shares had the only gain among 10 S&P 500 groups as Bank of America Corp. rallied 1.6 percent. The S&P 500 slid 0.5 percent to 1,405.54 at 4 p.m. New York time. While the benchmark gauge has lost 0.8 percent in two days, it rebounded from its intraday low of 1,397.20 in the final two hours of trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 71.52 points, or 0.5 percent, to 13,126.21 today. “Investor jitters have been heightened by another economic report coming in a bit light and by the Fed chairman suggesting the economy may be vulnerable to another period of turbulence,” said James Paulsen, who helps oversee about $333 billion as chief investment strategist at Minneapolis-based Wells Capital Management. “The selloff is also being fueled by a collapse in energy stocks. After such a significant advance in the market, investors are already worried about a correction.”

Stocks Fall as Slump in Oil Drags on Energy Producers (Source: Bloomberg)
U.S. stocks fell for a second day, led by commodity producers, as oil plunged on an increase in crude supplies while growth in durable-goods orders trailed estimates. Treasuries fell after demand weakened at an auction. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.5 percent to 1,405.54 at 4 p.m. in New York. Oil retreated for the first time in four days, losing 1.8 percent to $105.41 a barrel. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note increased two basis points to 2.20 percent. Portugal’s two-year note yield fell for the 10th day, the longest stretch since February 2009, as Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said the euro crisis is “almost over.” Crude helped drag the S&P GSCI Index (SPGSCI) of raw materials down 1.2 percent after U.S. Energy Department data showed supplies of oil rose by 7.1 million barrels last week, more than twice the increase forecast by analysts.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told ABC News yesterday that the U.S. economic recovery isn’t assured and policy makers don’t rule out any further options to boost growth. “We got a larger-than-expected 7.1 million barrel build in crude supplies, which certainly sends a message that there is plenty of crude around,” said Tim Evans, an energy analyst at Citi Futures Perspective in New York. “There were already a lot of bearish factors at work before the report came out.”

European Stocks Fall for Second Day; Banca Popolare Drops (Source: Bloomberg)
European (SXXP) stocks declined for a second day as European (SXXP) Central Bank Governing Council member Jens Weidmann said boosting the euro area’s rescue funds will not solve its debt crisis. Banca Popolare di Milano Scarl lost 5.4 percent as the lender said it swung to a loss in 2011. JKX Oil & Gas Plc (JKX) plunged 14 percent after saying it will not pay an interim dividend this year. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index (SXXP) declined 1.1 percent to 264.10 at the close. The gauge has still climbed 8 percent this quarter. The number of shares changing hands on the Euro Stoxx 50 Index was 9.1 percent less than the average over 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg show. “Just like the ‘Tower of Babel,’ the ‘Wall of Money’ will never reach heaven,” Weidmann said in a speech at Chatham House in London today. “If we continue to make it higher and higher, we will, in fact, run into more worldly constraints,” which might include setting “incentives that lead to new problems in the future.”

Euro Near 1-Month High (Source: Bloomberg)
The euro was 0.4 percent from a one-month high after a draft statement from European finance ministers showed governments are preparing to increase rescue funds when they meet tomorrow. Europe’s common currency was poised for its first quarterly gain against the U.S. dollar since June before data forecast to show unemployment in Germany, the region’s biggest economy, remained at the lowest in more than two decades. Demand for the yen was supported on prospects Asian stocks will extend a global rout, supporting demand for haven assets. “It has been a factor supporting the euro and has helped the currency recover,” Greg Gibbs, a foreign-exchange strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in Sydney, said of the euro area’s rescue fund. “It has helped the sense of calm in European bond markets over recent weeks.”
The euro bought $1.320 as of 8:34 a.m. in Tokyo from $1.3317 yesterday in New York. The 17-nation currency touched $1.3386 on March 27, the strongest since Feb. 29. It fetched 110.48 yen from 110.40 yesterday. The yen was at 82.96 per dollar from 82.90 yesterday, when it rose 0.3 percent.

FOREX-Yen rises into Japanese fiscal year-end
LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) - The yen rose broadly  , supported by seasonal flows from Japanese exporters buying at the end of their financial year, with an accumulation of short positions against the dollar looking vulnerable to a further squeeze.     "Short yen versus the dollar has been the main theme of the quarter and the market seems to have taken it too far heading into the Japanese fiscal year-end," said John Hardy, currency strategist at Saxo Bank.

Unemployment May Drop to 6% by Mid-2013, N.Y. Fed Study Finds (Source: Bloomberg)
The jobless rate in the U.S. could drop to as low as 6 percent by the first half of 2013, a bigger decrease than most economists currently project, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The relationship between the number of Americans newly unemployed and those recently finding work indicates joblessness will continue to decline, according to economist Aysegul Sahin. The jobless rate held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent last month after falling by 0.8 percentage point in the year ended January, according to figures from the Labor Department. “Simulations based on historical patterns suggest that the fall in the unemployment rate could be quicker than many forecasters predict,” Sahin wrote in a note on the bank’s Liberty Street Economics blog co-written by research associate Christina Patterson.
The analysis looked at flows into and out of unemployment since the end of World War II, likening it to water in a bathtub. The unemployment rate, or level of water in the tub, would be determined by the difference in the volume of water pouring in and draining out.

Geithner Says Fannie, Freddie Should Cut Some Principal (Source: Bloomberg)
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told a U.S. Senate panel that he believes Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should reduce principal on some home mortgages. “We’ve been encouraging Fannie and Freddie to take another look at the map, at the economics of the finance because we think there is a strong case in some circumstances to add principal reduction as part of their strategies to help maximize return of the taxpayer,” Geithner testified today to a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. At the end of last year 12.1 percent of mortgages were delinquent or in foreclosure, compared with 12.4 percent a year earlier, according to the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance companies under government conservatorship since 2008, haven’t granted principal reductions because it would cost the taxpayer-funded companies almost $100 billion, Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said in a Jan. 20 letter to Congress. The agency oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Orders for Durable Goods in U.S. Show Sustained Demand: Economy (Source: Bloomberg)
Orders placed with U.S. factories for durable goods rose in February for a fourth month in the last five, signaling manufacturing will remain a source of strength for the expansion. Bookings for goods meant to last at least three years advanced 2.2 percent, less than projected, after a revised 3.6 percent decline in January, data from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. Orders excluding transportation equipment increased 1.6 percent, in line with the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. The report also showed a gain in orders for capital goods that may point to a pickup in corporate spending after a first- quarter slowdown tied to the December expiration of a tax incentive. At the same time, cooler profit growth and slowdowns in Europe and China may keep investment from climbing as fast as earlier in the expansion.
“Business spending will remain a key driver of the U.S. economy, not to the same extent as last year, but still a positive force,” said Sal Guatieri, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto, who accurately forecast the February gain in orders. “No doubt corporate-profit growth will slow this year compared with last.”

Staffing Stocks Poised to Outperform on U.S. Job Gains (Source: Bloomberg)
Shares of staffing and recruiting companies are beginning to outperform as demand for U.S. labor rebounds. The newly-created Bloomberg U.S. Employment Services Index (BNUSSTAF) -- comprising 17 companies including Robert Half International Inc. (RHI), Insperity Inc. and Kelly Services Inc. (KELYA) -- has risen 48 percent since Sept. 22, 2011, compared with a 31 percent gain for the Russell 2000 Index of small-company stocks. This follows almost nine months of underperformance, when stocks of these businesses lagged behind the Russell 2000 by 28 percent. The economy has added 734,000 temporary and permanent jobs between December and February, the biggest three-month increase since May 2010, based on Labor Department data. The pick-up has been broad-based, which indicates a “firmer recovery” is taking hold, said Gus Faucher, senior economist in Pittsburgh at PNC Financial Services Group Inc.
“We are getting into that self-sustaining cycle, where we have job gains driving income growth, driving further consumer- spending growth, driving job gains,” he said. Clients of Troy, Michigan-based Kelly Services are feeling less pessimistic than they were a year ago, when many were making plans in case sales “fell off a cliff,” President and Chief Executive Officer Carl Camden said in a telephone interview. Now, their outlooks are consistent with the Federal Reserve, which forecasts a pick-up in business activity in the second half of the year, he said.

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Probably Rebounded on Aircraft (Source: Bloomberg)
Orders for U.S. durable goods probably rebounded in February as aircraft demand surged, economists said before a report today. Bookings for goods meant to last at least three years rose 3 percent after dropping 3.7 percent the prior month, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Excluding transportation equipment, demand climbed 1.7 percent after falling 3 percent, economists projected. Growing auto sales and the need to update business equipment are bolstering production, prompting gains in employment that are keeping factories as a source of strength in the expansion. Nonetheless, higher fuel costs and slowdowns in Europe and China may limit manufacturing this year. “Manufacturing has certainly benefited from the surge in demand for cars,” said Harm Bandholz, chief U.S. economist at UniCredit Group in New York. “Coming out of this recession, there has been a lot of pent-up demand.”
The Commerce Department will report the durables figures at 8:30 a.m. in Washington. Estimates of the 83 economists surveyed by Bloomberg ranged from a drop of 1.4 percent to a gain of 6.4 percent. An increase in airplane bookings probably contributed to the advance, economists said. Boeing Co., the largest U.S. aircraft maker, said it received orders for 237 planes last month, up from 150 in January.

Asia Set to Double Reserve Pool as Europe Squeezes IMF: Economy (Source: Bloomberg)
Asian policy makers are preparing to double a $120 billion reserve pool to defend the region against shocks, reducing their reliance on traditional backstops such as the International Monetary Fund as Europe saps resources. Officials meeting in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh this week will discuss boosting to $240 billion the so-called Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization agreement, a foreign- currency reserve pool created by Japan, China, South Korea and 10 Southeast Asian nations that took effect in 2010, said Wei Benhua, director of the fund’s surveillance unit in Singapore. Asian nations, holder of more than half of global reserves, are looking within themselves to protect the world’s fastest- growing region as Europe and the U.S. struggle to recover from the worst economic slump since World War II. The IMF, which bailed out South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand during the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, estimates that the euro area will take up about 80 percent of its total credit in 2014.
“The global financial crisis and Europe’s debt crisis show that when markets become irrational or extremely volatile, countries need all the resources they can get,” said Tai Hui, Singapore-based head of Southeast Asian economics at Standard Chartered Plc. “When there are trillions sloshing around in foreign-exchange reserves in Asia, adding another $120 billion is very small.”

Bank of China Seeks to Join World’s Biggest Metals Exchange (Source: Bloomberg)
Bank of China Ltd. became the first Chinese company to apply for membership on the London Metal Exchange, the world’s biggest metals bourse. BOCI Global Commodities (U.K.) Ltd. is seeking to become a category 2 member, giving it the right to trade by telephone and electronically, the LME said in a notice today. It won’t have access to the ring, London’s last open-outcry trading floor. China accounts for about 39 percent of global copper usage, 42 percent of aluminum and 43 percent of nickel demand, according to Barclays Capital. The LME opened its first Asian office in Singapore in 2010 and introduced new contracts with the Singapore Exchange Ltd. last year to attract new investors. The LME is also considering takeover bids for the 135-year-old exchange after trading volume climbed to a record last year.
“China is such a big user of the LME,” said Herwig Schmidt, head of sales at Triland Metals Ltd., one of 12 companies trading on the floor of the LME and a unit of Tokyo- based Mitsubishi Corp. “It’s the first step that encourages others to follow.” The LME’s board will review the application on April 23, said Chris Evans, the exchange’s head of business development.

Japan Retail Sales Beat Forecasts as Consumer Confidence Returns (Source: Bloomberg)
Japan’s retail sales rose more than economists forecast in February, indicating that consumer confidence is returning as reconstruction demand boosts the world’s third-biggest economy. Sales (JNNETYOY) increased 3.5 percent from a year earlier, a third straight monthly rise, the Trade Ministry said in Tokyo today. The median estimate of 15 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a 1.4 percent increase. From a month earlier, sales gained 2 percent. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average climbing to pre-earthquake levels and a government subsidy for buyers of fuel-efficient cars are aiding domestic demand, while declines in the yen have helped exporters. Gross domestic product may expand an annualized 1.7 percent this quarter after a 0.7 percent contraction in the final three months of last year, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of analysts.
“The eco-car subsidy has made a big difference to spending on autos,” David Rea, an economist at London-based Capital Economics Ltd., said before the report. “As the outlook starts to brighten, we’ll see consumer spending rising further.” A consumer confidence index is back at pre-quake levels and next week’s Tankan index of corporate sentiment may show that large manufacturers are less pessimistic, a Bloomberg News survey indicates.

Japan Faces Tax Battle as DPJ Finishes Plan on Sales Levy (Source: Bloomberg)
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s ruling party completed its plan to double the nation’s consumption tax, clearing the way for the Cabinet to approve the legislation and submit it to parliament. The Democratic Party of Japan decided early today on wording that says the levy could be halted in the event of “drastic” changes to the country’s economic outlook. The Cabinet is scheduled on March 30 to approve the measure to raise the sales levy to 8 percent in April 2014 and 10 percent in October 2015, DPJ tax-panel chief Shinichiro Furumoto told reporters. Submitting the legislation to parliament may force a battle with the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which supported a similar plan when it held power until 2009. 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 Korea Returns to Current-Account Surplus in February (Source: Bloomberg)
South Korea returned to a current- account surplus in February as exports rose amid signs of an improving U.S. economy and as the euro zone debt crisis eased. The surplus was $639 million, compared with a revised $969 million deficit in January, the Bank of Korea said in Seoul today. The current account is the broadest measure of trade, tracking goods, services and investment income. South Korean manufacturers’ confidence rose to the highest level in six months and the consumer sentiment index climbed to a four-month high on signs that the outlook for global growth is improving. While the European Central Bank’s injection of more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) into the banking system has calmed markets, the best six months of job growth since 2006 in the U.S. are boosting the optimism of consumers whose spending accounts for 70 percent of the economy.
“Global recession fears are fading, which bodes well for Korean exporters,” Kong Dong Rak, a Seoul-based fixed-income analyst at Taurus Investment & Securities Co., said before the release. “Unless oil prices jump further too much, South Korea will continue to see a trade surplus, which should help boost the won.”

Britons See Disposable Incomes Plunge Most Since 1977: Economy (Source: Bloomberg)
Britons suffered the biggest drop in disposable income in more than three decades last year in a squeeze that may continue this year as energy prices increase. Real household disposable income fell 1.2 percent, the Office for National Statistics said today in London. That’s the biggest drop since 1977 when the then Labour government sought to cap incomes growth in an attempt to bring down inflation. The report also showed that the economy shrank 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter, more than the 0.2 percent contraction previously estimated. The Bank of England has said cooling inflation will ease the squeeze on consumers this year and help the economy to recover from the second half. While Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne raised the threshold before workers begin paying income tax in his budget last week, any spending pickup may be constrained by rising unemployment and higher gasoline prices.
“We expect that real incomes will fall again this year, reflecting low nominal wage growth and little or no job growth,” said Michael Saunders, an economist at Citigroup Inc. in London. “Consumer spending is likely to remain subdued for several years.”

Swan Says Australia’s Surplus Goal ‘Much Harder’ to Deliver (Source: Bloomberg)
Australia’s budget surplus goal for the next fiscal year will be “much harder” to deliver, requiring spending cuts as global financial turmoil and shifts in the tax base hurt revenue, Treasurer Wayne Swan said. “A number of influences -- both contemporary and structural -- are combining to make that surplus much more difficult to achieve,” Swan said in a speech today in Sydney at a meeting of the Australian Business Economists. Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who faces an election next year, has pledged to end four years of deficits and turn a surplus in the fiscal year that begins July 1. As the government prepares to release its budget plan May 8 in Canberra, Swan’s remarks indicate the fiscal picture has deteriorated and won’t rebound soon, even as he maintained that a surplus is “a vital economic imperative.”
“When it comes to the structural underpinnings of the revenue base, we are in a tough new world,” Swan said. “This is a crucial point: even if we were to witness an enduring global recovery, we should not expect to see a similar recovery in revenues.”

Greece Bailout Seen in Debt With Junk Grade: Euro Credit (Source: Bloomberg)
Greek voters are unlikely to give any party a workable majority in elections as soon as next month, jeopardizing austerity policies on which bailout funds depend. Opinion surveys show as many as eight parties may win seats in the 300-member legislature. Antonis Samaras’s New Democracy leads with about 20 percent of the vote. “All polls suggest the Greek elections won’t lead to a majority one-party government,” said Athanasios Vamvakidis, head European currency strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London. “Without a strong government in Greece that can implement the program, a disorderly default that could lead to euro exit remains a possibility.”
The rate on government bonds maturing in February 2023 climbed 122 basis points to 19.67 percent since the close on March 12, the day the securities started trading after the biggest-ever sovereign debt restructuring. Yields for Portuguese bonds due in October 2023 were at 11.44 percent, while the rate for Irish securities maturing in March 2025 was 6.97 percent. Like Greece, Portugal and Ireland required rescue funds from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Europeans See Crisis Near End, Bernanke Warns on Recovery (Source: Bloomberg)
European leaders signaled rising confidence that their region’s crisis is near an end, while Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke warned that a U.S. recovery isn’t assured. The euro area’s woes are “almost over” after a slow initial response by policy makers, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said in Tokyo today. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday that the crisis is ebbing and her country’s borrowing costs will probably rise as its status as a haven wanes. Bernanke, who cited “green shoots” of recovery in the U.S. in March 2009 only to see his nation’s jobless rate climb to 10 percent seven months later, said in remarks published yesterday “it’s far too early to declare victory.” The jobless rate remains too high and policy makers don’t rule out further options to boost growth, he said in a transcript of an interview with ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer provided by the network.
Bernanke’s comments contrasted with a series of declarations by Monti during a visit to Japan, with the Italian leader saying a solution to Greece’s challenges is almost accomplished, Spain is employing discipline and Italian actions have helped stop deterioration in Europe’s woes.

EU Nears One-Year Boost in Rescue Fund to $1.3 Trillion (Source: Bloomberg)
European governments are preparing for a one-year increase in the ceiling on rescue aid to 940 billion euros ($1.3 trillion) to keep the debt crisis at bay, according to a draft statement written for finance ministers. The euro-area finance chiefs will probably decide at a meeting in Copenhagen tomorrow to run the 500 billion-euro permanent European Stability Mechanism alongside the 200 billion euros committed by the temporary fund, a European official told reporters in Brussels yesterday. Beyond that, they are also set to allow the temporary fund’s unused 240 billion euros to be tapped until mid-2013 “in exceptional circumstances following a unanimous decision of euro-area heads of state or government notably in case the ESM capacity would prove insufficient,” according to the draft dated March 23 and obtained by Bloomberg News.
The boost to the war chest would come after Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the dominant power in two years of crisis fighting, this week warned of “fragility” in Portugal and Spain. It would also be designed to lure the rest of the world into putting more money into the International Monetary Fund’s arsenal. European policy makers are wrangling over amendments to rules written last year that limit total available bailout funds to 500 billion euros. The IMF has made additional aid contingent on Europe first doing more to help itself.

20120329 0947 Soy Oil & Palm Oil Related News.

Soybean futures spent most of the day in positive territory, but the market sold off into the close to finish pennies lower in old-crop futures and 4 1/2 to 8 1/2 cents lower in new-crop futures. Futures benefitted from ongoing bullish sentiment fueled by South American crop concerns and hopes China will continue to be a strong buyer of U.S. beans. (Source: CME)

Soybean Complex Market Recap (Source: CME)
Wed 28 Mar 2012 14:15:01 CT
May Soybeans finished down 2 1/4 at 1367 1/2, 11 1/2 off the high and 3 1/2 up from the low. July Soybeans closed down 3 1/4 at 1373. This was 3 1/2 up from the low and 12 1/4 off the high. May Soymeal closed up 1.7 at 377.7. This was 2.9 up from the low and 1.2 off the high. May Soybean Oil finished down 0.5 at 54.6, 0.75 off the high and 0.07 up from the low. May soybeans closed slightly lower on the session after some choppy to higher trade early. Aggressive long liquidation selling in corn and wheat failed to drag the soybean market much lower as traders see the need for soybeans to stay strong relative to corn. A higher trend overnight and ideas that the sell-off yesterday was a bit overdone helped to support the market early today. Ideas that soybeans need to continue to gain on corn in an effort to attract more acres for the coming season helped support. The expanding needs because of the lower South America crop has helped to support ideas that US usage, and therefore planted area, need to be higher. Near perfect weather for the start of the planting season for the Midwest next week has traders nervous that producers will push to plant as much corn as possible before shifting to soybean plantings and this has added to the positive tone. Outside forces were weak with lower trade in energy, equity and metal markets and the trade still concerned with a sharp drop in the China stock market. Rapeseed weather looks stressful for Western Europe for the next few weeks with a lack of rain. Traders see weekly export sales near 600,000 tonnes.

China to Up April/June Soybean Imports (Source: CME)
By Thomson Reuters - Wed 28 Mar 2012 10:41:17 CT
China is likely to raise soybean imports in the April-June 2012 quarter, including purchases of old crop U.S. soybeans, as it seeks to meet strong domestic demand and build up stocks, Hamburg-based oilseeds analysts Oil World said on Tuesday.
til World forecasts that China, the world's top soy buyer, will import 55.6 million tonnes of soybeans between October 2011 and September 2012, up from 52.3 million the year before.

Soybean mkt's tight supplies not guaranteed
-- Gavin Maguire is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own. --
CHICAGO, March 27 (Reuters) - Large speculators have racked up a record large net long position in the soybean futures and options market on the dawn of a key U.S. Department of Agriculture release that is projected to reveal only a limited expansion in U.S. planted area for 2012 despite continued downgrades to the in-harvest South American crop.
Firming U.S. cash basis levels coupled with brisk import demand from China suggest the prospects are good for continued soy price strength in the weeks ahead. But given the recent steep advance in the soybean/corn price ratio - which signals the increasing economic appeal of soy production to farmers - traders should not consider the current tight supply environment to be permanent.

VEGOILS-Palm below one-year high on Chinese demand, 3,500 rgt eyed
SINGAPORE, March 28 (Reuters) - Malaysian palm oil futures edged up, just below a one-year high hit the previous day with dealers betting on larger food imports by China and soybean crop damage in South America to lift the market.
"Market players are looking out for the USDA reports on Friday. At the same time, food demand from China is quite strong as it is replenishing its stocks," said a trader with a foreign commodities brokerage in Malaysia.  

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.

China to up April/June soybean imports- Oil World
HAMBURG, March 27 (Reuters) - China is likely to raise soybean imports in the April-June 2012 quarter, including purchases of old crop U.S. soybeans, as it seeks to meet strong domestic demand and build up stocks, Hamburg-based oilseeds analysts Oil World said on Tuesday.
til World forecasts that China, the world's top soy buyer, will import 55.6 million tonnes of soybeans between October 2011 and September 2012, up from 52.3 million the year before.