Monday, April 2, 2012

20120402 1820 FCPO EOD Daily Chart Study.

FCPO closed : 3532, changed : +99 points, volume : lower.
Bollinger band reading : upside biased with possible pullback correction.
MACD Histogram : resumed rising, buyer in control.
Support : 3500, 3470, 3450, 3420 level.
Resistance : 3500, 3550, 3620, 3650 level.
Comment :
FCPO rallied again closed recorded huge gains hit new 1 year high with better volume transacted. Soy oil price trading firmer after last Friday surged upwards nearly 3% while crude oil price continue to consolidate lower.
FCPO Jun contract gain nearly 3% after soy oil surge higher due to USDA reported drop in soy bean planting area by 1% while export data released shows improvement but slowing down pace.
Daily chart study calling an upside biased market development with possible pullback correction.
When to buy : buy at support or weakness with larger cut loss and profit target.
When to sell : sell at resistant or strength with quick cut loss and profit target.

20120402 1739 FKLI EOD Daily Chart Study.

FKLI closed : 1597.5 changed : +13 points, volume : higher.
Bollinger band reading : upside biased with possible pullback correction.
MACD Histrogram : recovering, buyer taking exposure.
Support : 1595, 1590, 1580, 1570 level.
Resistance : 1600, 1610, 1620, 1630 level.
Comment :
FKLI closed recorded gains with improved volume participation doing 6 points discount compare to cash market that advance higher. Last Friday U.S. markets closed higher and today Asia markets ended mostly in positive zone while European markets trading little lower.
Overall global market development still uncertain after stronger than forecast U.S. consumer spending and confident data, Europe unemployment reached 14 years high, European finance firewall development and speculation on China will not ease monetary policy due to improving U.S. economy.
Technical study revised to recommending an upside biased market development with possible pullback correction.
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.

20120402 1717 Regional Markets EOD Daily Chart Study.

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

20120402 1556 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

Shares rise as China data soothes, caution caps
SINGAPORE, April 2 (Reuters) - Asian shares kicked of the second quarter with modest gains, as surprisingly firm China manufacturing data dispelled fears of a hard landing in the world's second biggest economy, but caution capped prices before U.S. and European factory data.
"The Chinese reading was much better than most were expecting and that optimism has flown into risky assets now. If China is still in a big growth stage then Australian commodities will be in demand," IG markets strategist Stan Shamu said.

Brazil commodity exporters under friendly fire in 'currency war'
SAO PAULO, March 30 (Reuters) - In its latest bid to slow dollar inflows in a "global currency war," Brazil has dealt an unexpected blow to its own commodity exporters, choking off medium-term trade financing at a vulnerable time for the sector.
Brazil - a source of much of the world's sugar, coffee, soy, beef and iron ore - has imposed a series of taxes on foreign capital over the past year to slow what President Dilma Rousseff called a "tsunami" of cheap money flowing from the rich world.  

China's Li: priority to boost consumption, imports
BOAO, China, April 2 (Reuters) - China's top priority is to boost domestic consumption to maintain relatively strong economic growth, at the same time increasing imports from other Asian countries, Vice Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday.
While some Asian countries face downward pressure on growth and inflationary pressure, China's economic fundamentals remain good, Li said.

Italy's Monti seeks Chinese investment, says reforms working
BEIJING, March 31 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Mario Monti urged China on Saturday to step up investment in Italy and tried to reassure Beijing that the euro zone debt crisis was close to resolution and tough economic reforms passed by his government were working.
Speaking after meetings with officials including Premier Wen Jiabao and the head of the China Investment Corporation (CIC), Lou Jiwei, Monti said there had been clear interest in greater cooperation but he had no concrete measures to announce.

Corn at 1-week top on tight supply, soy up for 2nd day
SINGAPORE, April 2 (Reuters) - Chicago corn climbed to a 1-week top, building on last session's limit-up rally, which was triggered by data showing supplies at a five-year low in top exporter the United States.
"I think the corn supply pipeline will remain tight until the end of the season," said Adam Davis, a senior commodity analyst at Merricks Capital in Melbourne. "The focus should turn to new-crop, which is bearish for corn and bullish for beans."

Indonesia's Sulawesi March cocoa bean exports fall 69 pct y/y -industry
JAKARTA, April 2 (Reuters) - Indonesia's cocoa bean exports from its main growing island of Sulawesi slumped 69 percent to 3,505.66 tonnes in March from 11,132.01 tonnes a year earlier, industry data showed on Monday.
Sulawesi cocoa exports reached 7,917.7 tonnes in February.
ANRPC revises down 2012 rubber output to 10.42 mln T
SINGAPORE, April 2 (Reuters) - Global natural rubber output is forecast to rise 1.1 percent to 10.420 million tonnes in 2012, but the increase is lower than an earlier estimate because of heavy rains in plantations in Malaysia and China, the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC) said on Monday.
"In Malaysia, unseasonal rains for almost a month from 14 February onwards have disrupted harvesting of trees," the group said in a statement.
Analyst cuts Brazil cane, sugar forecasts
BRASILIA, March 31 (Reuters) - Brazilian sugar cane and ethanol analyst Archer Consulting cut its forecast for the country's 2012-13 sugar cane crop in the key center-south region on Saturday, lowering expected cane output to 512 million tonnes down from 521 million previously.
In an emailed market report, the consultancy trimmed its view for sugar output to 32.47 million tonnes down from the 32.56 million tonnes it had forecast in early March.
Ivory Coast cocoa crop outlook reduced -ICCO
GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador, March 30 (Reuters) - The world's biggest cocoa producer Ivory Coast is forecast to harvest 1.3 million tonnes in the 2011/2012 season, an official with the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) said on Friday.
This was down from the organization's 2010/11 estimate of 1.511 million tonnes.
Jamaica sugar production rises in early harvest
KINGSTON, March 30 (Reuters) - Jamaica produced 29 percent more sugar in the first two months of the present harvest than it did during the same period last year, the Central Bank reported.
Sugar production totaled 34,900 tonnes from mid-December to mid-February, up from 27,000 tonnes for the first two months of last year's harvest, the Bank of Jamaica reported on Thursday.

Brent rises above $123 on China data, Mideast supply worries
SINGAPORE, April 2(Reuters) - Brent crude rose above $123 after positive manufacturing data from China eased fears of a sharp economic slowdown in the world's second-largest oil consumer and continuing tension in the Middle East threatened crude supplies.
"The Chinese PMI numbers were much better than expected and that would have an impact on oil. This will help answer some of the questions over a potential hard landing in China," said Ben Le Brun, a market analyst at OptionsXpress in Sydney.

Japan Q2 crude steel demand seen down 1 pct y/y
TOKYO, March 30 (Reuters) - Japan's demand for crude steel in the second quarter will fall 1 percent from a year ago, the trade ministry said on Friday, as steelmakers and distributors draw on swollen domestic inventories to cope with consumption by carmakers.
Demand for crude steel in Japan, the world's No.2 producer of the construction material, is seen at 26.1 million tonnes for the April-to-June quarter, the ministry estimated, based on a survey of steelmakers and inventory levels at the end of March.

China alumina prices rise, imports seen up - trade
HONG KONG, March 30 (Reuters) - China's spot alumina prices rose 2 percent in March due to expectations that domestic production will fall in the second half of the year, prompting aluminium smelters to look for imports, traders and sources at smelters said on Friday.
China is the world's top producer of aluminium and alumina. Alumina is used for the production of the metal and more than a third of the country's alumina production is made from imported bauxite, the ore.

Copper starts Q2 higher, China data eases slowdown woes
SINGAPORE, April 2 (Reuters) - London copper futures rose on the first trading day of the second quarter, buoyed by upbeat Chinese manufacturing data that helped calm fears about a sharp slowdown in the world's top copper consumer.
"We see this as quite a good indication of strength in the Chinese economy and we are expecting growth in the construction sector this year which will be quite supportive not only of base metals, like copper, but also steel," said Matt Fusarelli, analyst at Australia-based consultancy AME Group.

M'bishi Materials plans 24 pct more copper output in Apr-Sept
TOKYO, April 2 (Reuters) - Mitsubishi Materials Corp , Japan's third-biggest copper smelter, said it plans April-September copper output of 166,548 tonnes, up 24 percent from the same period a year earlier.
Damage to the firm's mainstay Onahama plant in northern Japan after last year's devastating March 11 earthquake reduced the company's production in the same period a year ago.
Sumitomo Mining plans 23 pct rise in copper output in 2012/13
TOKYO, April 2 (Reuters) - Sumitomo Metal Mining Co , Japan's No.2 copper producer, said on Monday it plans to produce 23 percent more copper in the 2012/13 financial year started on Monday, at 436,000 tonnes, up from 354,000 tonnes in the previous year.
The company plans to produce 218,000 tonnes of refined copper each in the first half and second halves of the current financial year.

Gold marks time, eyes on currency market
SINGAPORE, April 2 (Reuters) - Gold prices were little changed in the first trading day of the second quarter, waiting for fresh cues from the currency market as investors digest data from China and the United States as well as developments in the euro zone.
"There is no fresh topic in the gold market these days," said a trader at a large bullion house based in Tokyo.

METALS-Copper starts Q2 higher, China data eases slowdown woes
SINGAPORE, April 2 (Reuters) - London copper futures rose on the first trading day of the second quarter on Monday, buoyed by upbeat Chinese manufacturing data that helped calm fears about a sharp slowdown in the world's top copper consumer.
Up about 12 percent this year, copper's fate mostly hangs on China with worries over the debt-strained euro zone easing and the U.S. economy picking up. The rate of slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy will be key to whether the industrial metal can build on or erase its year-to-date price gain.

PRECIOUS-Gold marks time, eyes on currency market
SINGAPORE, April 2 (Reuters) - Gold prices were little changed on Monday in the first trading day of the second quarter, waiting for fresh cues from the currency market as investors digest data from China and the United States as well as developments in the euro zone.
The dollar index hovered above a near one-month low hit last Friday after the euro rallied on hopes that Spain could stick to an austerity plan.

FOREX-Yen eases, Aussie jumps as China data cheers
SYDNEY/SINGAPORE, April 2 (Reuters) - The safe-haven yen eased on Monday, while the Australian dollar jumped after surprisingly strong Chinese factory activity data eased fears about a hard landing in the world's second biggest economy.
The Australian dollar  rose 0.5 percent to $1.0400  having peaked at $1.0470 after a report on Sunday showed activity at big Chinese factories hit an 11-month high in March.

Bank of China unit to hire London metals traders
LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) - A unit of Bank of China  , one of China's big-four state-owned banks, is expanding its metals business and looking to hire local traders when it becomes the first Chinese bank to officially join the London Metal Exchange.
Its move to hire comes as European and U.S. banks including commodity heavyweight Goldman Sachs  have seen many of their commodity traders exit for better-paying trading houses and hedge funds.

Baltic sea index rises on higher capesize rates
March 30 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry commodities, rose on Friday as rates for large capesize vessels climbed for a fourth straight day on higher iron ore activity.
The main index, which reflects the daily freight market rates of capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize dry bulk transport vessels, rose 4 points, or 0.43 percent, to 934 points.

20120402 1243 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares rise as China data soothes growth worry
TOKYO, April 2 (Reuters) - Asian shares kicked off the second quarter in positive territory on Monday as risk appetite returned after China manufacturing data dispelled fears of a hard landing in the world's second biggest economy.
"We continue to expect cautious, though supportive, monetary policy easing," ANZ Bank said in a research note. "China's manufacturing sector continues to expand, consistent with our view that the economy's momentum is strengthening."

COMMODITIES-CRB up for another quarter; gasoline leads gains
NEW YORK, March 30 (Reuters) - Grains and soybean markets staged sharp rallies on Friday after a bullish U.S. crop report, and gasoline racked up the biggest gains in March to put commodities up for a second straight quarter.

Japan, not Iran, may be oil market's focus in April
--Robert Campbell is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own--
NEW YORK, March 30 (Reuters) - The showdown between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear program remains the overarching risk facing oil markets but in the near term, nuclear power in Japan may well become the short term focus for traders.
The near total shutdown of Japan's nuclear power industry since last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami turned the Japanese electricity sector into a surprise source of oil demand growth in Asia last year.

Oil release now more likely
--John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own&#8212
LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) - Unless oil prices drop for other reasons, the United States and other governments appear set to release crude and product stocks from their strategic reserves before or during the summer in a bid to slow the rise in prices, avert an economic slowdown and sustain support for their strategy of sanctions on Iran.
The probability of a release is now more than 50 percent. The only remaining questions concern the timing and scale of releases; how many countries take part; whether they will receive support from other reserve holders such as China; and whether swing-producer Saudi Arabia will help the effort by maintaining higher than normal exports even as commercial inventories rise.

OIL-Oil ends quarter up 14 pct on Iran, supply problems
NEW YORK, March 30 (Reuters) - Oil rose on Friday to post the biggest quarterly gain since the beginning of 2011 as the growing threat of a disruption of Iranian exports added to supply concerns.
"The Obama news caused an initial pop up, but then there was a realization it wasn't going to happen immediately and there's been a shift from focus on a threat to close the Strait of Hormuz to whether or not reserves are going to be released," said Dominick Caglioti, broker at Frontier Trading Co. in New York, referring to threats made by Tehran earlier this year to block the key oil shipping strait.

NATURAL GAS-US natgas futures lose for 5th day, front hits 10-yr low
NEW YORK, March 30 (Reuters) - Front-month U.S. natural gas futures ended Friday with another slide to a 10-year low, as light demand and record high supplies pressured prices in the biggest quarterly decline in two years.
"The fundamentals have probably never been this bearish. Storage is higher than its ever been at this time, and the weather outlook is pretty mild," said Steve Mosley at SMC Advisory Services in Arkansas.

EURO COAL-Prices rise, Asian buying calms market
LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) - Prompt physical coal prices rose by nearly $2 a tonne on Friday following Xstrata's first quarterly term settlement at $115 FOB Newcastle to Japanese utilities and absorption of surplus coal by South Korea.
"The panic's over for now. Nobody's dumping coal like they were recently," one European utility said.

20120402 1241 Malaysia Corporate Related News.

SP Setia together with Rimbunan Hijau Group inked a deal with Qinzhou Jingu Investment Co Ltd to jointly develop the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (QIP), which will be the third industrial park in China that is developed under the G2G initiative. A ground-breaking ceremony was held in the presence of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and PM Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in China yesterday. SP Setia' participation will be via its 45% equity stake in a Malaysian JV company known as Qinzhou Development (Malaysia) Consortium, which in turn will hold 49% stake in the China JV Co to be formed with Qinzhou Jingu as its JV partner. The QIP is located 10km south of Qinzhou City and 5km north of the Guangxi Qinzhou Fre Trade Port Area - a national economic and technological development zone. The industrial park has a planned area of 55 sq km, consisting of five functional districts namely industrial, residential, auxiliary service, production and living centre, and scientific and technology service. On completion, this ecological coastal city development is expected to house a population of 500,000, which is nearly 13% of Qinzhou's current estimated population of 3.9 million. (Star)

MRCB is to be compensated by the government following changes to the terms under which it can collect toll on the EDL. “The amount is to be worked out, but it will compensate MRCB for a loss in income…” a source said. The government is now looking at charging a levy on all foreign registered vehicles going into Singapore and using the causeway. The reason for the change in CA terms is following PM Datuk Seri Najib‟s announcement that motorists who do not use the EDL will not be required to pay toll. This move is likely to impact Malaysians who are permanent residents (PR) of Singapore and who commute daily, which is about 30k vehicles, and not tax all Malaysians going into Singapore. The levy imposed is unlikely to deter Singaporeans coming to Johor Bahru. EDL is scheduled to be opened for a one month trial period from 1 Apr 2012. (Edge Weekly)

After being with AmBank Group for 34 years, Cheah Teck Kuang, aged 64, has retired as group MD effective 2 Apr 12. He is replaced by Ashok Ramamurthy, aged 50, who was previously the deputy group MD and CFO. (BMSB, The Edge)

Seven Felda NGOs on last Friday delivered to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak a memorandum expressing support for the proposed listing of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGVH). The memorandum carried the message that the new generation of Felda settlers gave their undivided support to the proposed listing of FGVH on the main board of Bursa Malaysia, rejected all forms of interference and intimidation from outsiders and called for the listing to be expedited. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Ahmad Maslan told reporters later that efforts were being made for a June listing of FGVH. (Bernama)

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has given the assurance that the proposed listing of Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGVH) on the main board of Bursa Malaysia will not at all involve land owned by Felda settlers. He dismissed the allegations by certain quarters that the listing would result in the mortgage of land owned by the settlers. "I reiterate that not even an inch of land owned by the settlers will be involved in the listing. It will only involve state government land allowed to be developed by the federal government as provided for under the Land (Group Settlement Areas) Act 1960 and hitherto managed by Felda Plantations," he said in his speech. (NST)

CIMB will acquire Royal Bank of Scotland's corporate finance, investment banking and institutional equity broking businesses in India and some of the Asia Pacific markets. The deal is expected to be signed next week, said people familiar with the transaction. Senior CIMB officials, including Carol Fong, CEO of CIMB Securities, were in India on Friday to meet financial market regulators and stock exchange authorities. Once regulatory approvals are in place, CIMB may appoint Devesh Kumar, managing director, head equities, RBS Global Banking and Markets, as the country head of CIMB's India operations. Sources said CIMB will retain all RBS India employees. (Economic Times)

Switzerland-based Mercuria Energy Group is said to be partnering CIMB Group Holdings to revive the beleaguered Asia Petroleum Hub (APH) bunkering project off Tanjung Bin in Johor. It is learnt that Mercuria will establish a joint venture with a well-connected local firm to invest in the APH project, which has stalled for the past one year. Mercuria claims to be one of the world‟s five largest independent energy trader, with trading platforms in Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok, Beijing and several locations across the US, the Middle East and Europe. There have been other suitors for the APH project, including PTT Thailand – the state-owned oil company – which was prepared to be the off-taker and to lease the facilities on a long-term basis. (The Edge)

Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda) is persuading the Sabah government to contribute to the Renewable Energy (RE) Fund as heavy power users in the state are not contributing to the fund. "We're in talks with the Sabah Government to contribute to the RE Fund. We cannot always expect heavy power users in Peninsular Malaysia to pay for the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) benefits enjoyed by eligible green power producers in Sabah," said Seda CEO Badriyah Abdul Malek. Seda, a government agency under the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry, is a one-stop centre that regulates supply and usage of RE in the country. Currently, electricity consumers in Peninsular Malaysia, who use more than 350 kilowatt per hour or whose monthly bills exceed RM77, pay an additional one per cent RE levy. Manufacturers, which make up more than 40% of TNB's clientele, are the ones hit hardest by the RE levy. Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) started collecting this money from December 2011. Sarawak is exempted from the RE levy because under the Renewable Energy Act 2010, the FiT is only applicable to Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia. (BT)

Emerging industries such as green energy and bio industry will be the mainstay of investments from South Korea this year, said its ambassador Lee Yong-joon. Already both countries have set up cooperation channels in green energy and nuclear energy sector for two years now. Lee said the Malaysian economy has presented a unique window of opportunity for South Korea. According to the Korea International Trade Association, South Korea-Malaysia trade volume hit an all time high in 2011, with Korea's export and import value reaching US$6.3b and US$10.5b (RM19.34b and RM32.24b) respectively. South Korea is part of the trillion dollar trade club since 2011. As for investment, South Korea emerged as Malaysia's second largest foreign investor last year with a total investment of US$1.7b (RM5.22b) in 10 projects. (BT)

Positive consumer sentiment, strong purchasing power and minimal impact from Bank Negara‟s newly implemented responsible lending guidelines collectively helped boost sales of premium vehicles in February. “It is due to a combination of attractive sales and after-sales campaigns by manufacturers to clear 2011 manufactured cars and aggressive registration and delivery of orders,” said Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific automotive and transportation practice principal consultant Rajaswaran Tharmalingam. “Further, continuous novel efforts to increase sales by manufacturers and strong consumer sentiments made it a better month,” he added. Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president Datuk Aishah Ahmad pointed out that Bank Negara‟s new lending guidelines, which came into effect on Jan 1, had little to no impact on buyers of premium vehicles. (Starbiz)

UMW Holdings said the decision on whether to take its 22.3% associate WSP Holdings Ltd private could be known by as early as this month. "Discussions are ongoing. We will have a decision soon," said its president and group CEO Datuk Syed Hisham Syed Wazir recently. (BT)

UMW's subsidiary, UMW Standard Drilling, has received a letter from Petronas Carigali for a two-year extension for the provision of a jack-up drilling rig Naga 3 contract worth US$105m (RM321.3m). The commencement date for the contract extension shall be March 22, 2012, and shall be valid until March 21, 2014, both dates inclusive. (Bernama, Malaysian Reserve)

The revival of rubber as a major commercial crop for Malaysia can be a success should local plantation companies adopt strategies such as land expansion overseas. This is apart from acquiring local brownfield and greenfield areas, as well as converting current marginal oil palm land to rubber, said Tradewinds Plantation Bhd head of plantation advisory Ramesh Veloo. For ventures abroad, he said local players should look at Liberia, Gabon, Cameroon, Indonesia, Cambodia and Latin America. “These countries have optimum plantation base such as ample contiguous and sizeable land, suitable agro climatic conditions and sufficient labour,” Ramesh added. It was reported that there are seven million to 14m hectares of degraded land comprising degraded forest, marginal/waste land, idle/unused land in Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Sumatra, Java, Nusa Tenggara and Papua. (Starbiz)

Skytrax‟s website shows that Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) 5-star airline status is under review‟ which industry observers believe that this could point to a possible downgrade. Checks show that its status has been „under review‟ since October last year, dismissing doubts that it could be a periodical review. (BT)

The upgrading works at KLIA costing RM116.8m to accommodate Airbus A380 has been fully completed. The upgrading works include runway, taxi shoulder, pavement strength, ground service requirements, a third aerobridge and holding lounge. (Bernama)

American International Assurance (AIA Malaysia), which posted RM483m in annualised new premiums last year, is confident of achieving stronger growth on the back of its 1.2m customer base and an under-insured protection market. AIA Malaysia is currently the leading player in personal accident and medical insurance. On its takaful business, via AIA-AFG Takaful Bhd, the pick-up rate of takaful was encouraging as the company had clocked in more than 6,000 cases in the first 10 months of last year despite the fact that it started operations only in January 2011. (Star Biz)

The government has approved an additional RM6bn for the National Higher Education Fund Corp (PTPTN) for 2012 and 2013, said the Minister of Higher Education Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin. The Cabinet last Friday approved the application by his ministry considering the importance and relevance of PTPTN in financing the education of students in tertiary institutions. (Bernama)

It was the pricey power tariff that made Salco, a JV between Rio Tinto and CMS, abort plans to develop a RM7bn aluminium smelter plant in Samalaju, Sarawak. Sarawak Energy wanted to supply power to Salco at 14 sen/kWh, but the price is more than double what Salco had anticipated. Electricity accounts for at least 30% of the smelter plant‟s operating cost. Also, the 14 sen/kWh is also more than the 6.25/kWh Sarawak Energy pays for electricity feed from Bakun. (Edge Weekly)

Glomac which recently acquired two parcels of land in Klang for RM44m, is still on the lookout for good land banks in the Greater Kuala Lumpur area. Currently, Glomac has a total of 11 ongoing projects, comprising a range of mixed developments in Greater KL and in Johor Baru. The company is looking into expanding into Iskandar Malaysia but that is something that is not decided yet. (BT)

Suspended Silver Bird Group MD Datuk Jackson Tan and his wife Datin Ong had their shareholdings in the company reduced further. A filing with Bursa Malaysia showed that there was a forced sale and disposal of about 1.6m ordinary shares of RM0.50 each, which represented 0.39% of the total issued and paid-up share capital of Silver Bird. The shares were transacted from March 22 till 28 at prices ranging from 18 to 21 sen per share. Silver Bird is now categorised as a Practice Note 17 and Practice Note 1 company because it has not been able to repay its debts to the parties that had lent them money to do business. (Starbiz)

Silver Bird Group Bhd may see a white knight emerging in the coming weeks although no turnaround plans have been put forward to the board of directors of the bread and confectionary maker. However, sources told StarBiz that this could happen in a matter of weeks. In reply to a query, the members of the special committee that was formed to take charge of the daily operations of the company said they were finalising the forensic report results and the development of a restructuring plan. “To date, we‟ve not received any proposal from Lembaga Tabung Haji (LTH),” they added. Meanwhile, parties whose names have been linked to the turnaround plans have denied that they were involved in any deal. LTH and Koperasi Permodalan Felda (KPF) denied that they were negotiating with the board. LTH group managing director and CEO Datuk Ismee Ismail declined to comment on the speculation. An investment banker noted that any white knight coming in would have to resolve the company‟s debt woes. “If that‟s not resolved, the company will go under,” he said. Moreover, the banker said KPF might not be the party favoured by others to take over since the condensed milk joint venture with Silver Bird was one of the businesses that have come under scrutiny. Nevertheless, there have been speculation that LTH and KPF or a combination of the two could emerge as the white knight. An industry observer said the shares of Datuk Jackson Tan have been force-sold in recent weeks and this has brought the share price down. “I believe it is only a matter of weeks when something is firmed up and an offer made,” he said. He said should the operations be run efficiently, the company should be able to post a net profit of between 10% and 12% from the revenue generated from the consumer food division, which came to RM228.60m from continuing operations in FY11. (Starbiz)

Malaysia Reinsurance Bhd is currently accessing losses arising from the recent floods in Thailand but the reinsurer does not expect it to have a negative impact on earnings. "The numbers are manageable in the sense that it's something that is not going to kill us. We should probably be okay," MNRB Holdings Bhd president and chief executive officer Mohd Din Merican told Business Times recently. He declined to say what Malaysian Re's exposure to the Thai floods was, except to say that the national reinsurer has a "decent" risk spread. Malaysian Re, a unit of MNRB, is the largest reinsurance player in the local market. (BT)

Indonesia-based hotel management firm, Aston International Hotels, Resorts & Residences is seeking contracts in Malaysia to expand its geographical reach. The company had recently secured a management contract with privately-held Langkawi Saga Sdn Bhd, to manage its property, Favehotel Cenang Beach Langkawi. Favehotel is a two-star hotel that will be operating this year, with room rates starting from US$50 (RM154) a night. Aston national assistant director of sales for Asia, Happy Lutjikha, told Business Times in an interview recently that the company is looking for more assets to manage in Malaysia as it is bullish on the market here. The company manages 45 properties under nine brands in Indonesia, for third party operators. The portfolio comprises hotels, resorts, villas and serviced apartments under the two- to five-star categories. (BT)

Ho Hup Construction Company Bhd still faces a number of hurdles to get its Bukit Jalil project off the ground even though a ruling by the High Court has ordered the company to buy out the other shareholder that owns the rights to the land. Among the concerns raised was the ability to raise financing to buyout Zen Courts Sdn Bhd, which appears in a favourable position post the judgement, off its 30% share of Bukit Jalil Development Sdn Bhd (BJD), which owns the right to develop 60-arces of prime land in Bukit Jalil. It is still unclear as to who would get the right to develop the land. Ho Hup has appealed to the Federal Court to hear its case of having the development rights to the project after the Court of Appeal upheld Malton Bhd's case of being a joint developer to the land. In dispute is the joint development agreement where Pioneer Haven, a subsidiary of Malton, would fund and develop the land and BJD would be entitled to 17% of the gross development value of the project with a minimum payment of RM265m to be paid throughout the development of the land. (Starbiz)

A win-win deal for Prasarana, Crest Builder
The redevelopment of the Dang Wangi light rail transit (LRT) station site is expected to have a gross development value (GDV) of RM1.04bn, with land owner Syarikat Prasarana Negara (Prasarana) to get a 21.1% share amounting to some RM220m, said a Crest Builder Holdings spokesman. Prasarana entered into a deal last week with a joint venture between Crest Build and Detik Utuh SB (Crest Builder-Detik Utuh JV), to turn the 1.1ha plot into a mixed commercial development comprising a retail mall, upscale premium serviced residential suites, hotels and offices sitting on top of the Dang Wangi LRT station. (Financial Daily)

MJGL no longer an MMC unit
MMC Corp said in a filing to Bursa Malaysia that Malakoff Jordan Generation Ltd (known as ACWA Power Jordan Generation Ltd) (MJGL) has ceased to be a subsidiary of Malakoff International Ltd (MIL), following the completion of MIL's disposal of its entire equity interest in MJGL comprising two ordinary shares of USD1.00 (RM3.06) each. The disposal does not have a material impact on the earnings or net assets of MMC Corp for the financial year ending 31 Dec 2012. (Malaysian Reserve)

MBSB offers new home financial scheme
Malaysia Building Society (MBSB)’s new home financial scheme is targeted at first-home buyers. It is a package that offers 100% margin of financing to houses with a ceiling price of RM500,000. The MBSB First Home Scheme, officially launched last Friday, also offers an exemption of the normal 10% down payment. Speaking at the launch, chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Zaini Othman said the new scheme is designed for young adults who want to own their very first residential property. (Malaysian Reserve)

Extol bids RM100m worth of local projects
Extol MSC is bidding for local public and private sector projects contracts worth RM100m. Its president and deputy executive chairman Mohd Badaruddin Masodi said the information and communications technology (ICT) security market’s outlook is “very promising” this year. “The awareness on the importance of the cyber security is increasing. We don’t need to do much marketing about it. Everybody is aware of such security threats nowadays”. (Malaysian Reserve)

Petronas Plans Canadian Acquisition Topping $5 Billion (Source: Bloomberg)
Petroliam Nasional Bhd (PET)., the Malaysian state-owned oil company, is studying a Canadian acquisition exceeding $5 billion as part of the company’s drive to supply natural gas to Asia. “This is going to be big,” Chief Executive Officer Shamsul Azhar Abbas said in a March 30 interview on the 81st floor of the company’s twin towers headquarters that dominates the Kuala Lumpur skyline. “There are quite a few candidates out there, who are willing to talk,” he said, adding a deal may be announced within three months. Petronas, as the company is known, joins Asian peers including PetroChina Co., Mitsubishi Corp. and Cnooc Ltd. in seeking production in North America, where natural gas sells for less than 15 percent of Asian benchmark prices. At more than $5 billion, a purchase would be more than double the company’s biggest deal, the $2 billion acquisition of a 40 percent stake in Santos Ltd. (STO)’s Gladstone LNG project in Australia in 2008.
“I want to grow big in Australia and Canada,” said 59- year-old Shamsul, surrounded by modern art from the Petronas collection that adorned the walls of the round conference room. “In terms of country risk, it’s less” than other natural gas rich areas such as the Middle East, he said. There were $8.7 billion in deals announced in Canada’s oil and gas industry in the first quarter, the busiest start to the year since 2009, when mergers and acquisitions in the sector there peaked at $47 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Since 2009, there have been 487 deals, the biggest being China Petrochemical’s Corp.’s $4.7 billion purchase of Syncrude Canada Ltd. from ConocoPhillips in 2010.

SILK Holdings: Posts earnings turnaround
SILK Holdings posted a net profit of RM1.7m for 2Q FY2012, against a net loss of RM4.3m in the same quarter of last year. The company said this was partly driven by stronger performance for its highway and oil  and gas support services businesses. The quarter also saw revenue increase by 61.8% to RM60.6m, and earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) jump 71.2% to RM30.7m. (Business Times)

Esso Malaysia: Board changes following entry of new major shareholder
Esso Malaysia has seen some changes to its board of directors, following the entry of San Miguel Corp as its new controlling shareholder. Esso Malaysia announced the resignation of chairman and executive director Hugh Walter Alexander Thompson, as well as executive directors Fatimah Merican, Faridah Ali and Abu Bakar Siddik Che Embi, all effective Saturday. San Miguel's nominees namely Ramon S. Ang, Eric O. Recto, Aurora T. Calderon and Lubin B. Nepomuceno had been appointed as new executive directors. (Business Times)

I-Berhad: Continues to seek partners for i-City project
I-BERHAD’s CEO Datuk Eu Hong Chew said the company will continue to seek strategic partners to accelerate developments at its RM3bn i-City project. He said  the company is currently talking to several local and foreign firms who are considering co-developing some of the land. I-City is a knowledge and tourism project, sprawled on 42 hectares. Some 20% of the project has been developed with the rest to be completed over the next 10 years. In Dec 2011, I-Berhad entered into a 30:70  JV with Everbright International China to co-develop 12.5ha  in i-City to build the mall, some residences and MSC (Multimedia Super Corridor) offices. I-Berhad is looking for similar deals but Eu declined to say who the company is talking to. Eu said I-Berhad is in talks with several local and foreign institutional investors who want to buy some of the buildings at i-City, via en bloc sale. (Business Times)

Yokohama Industries: Ropes in GP Batteries as JV partner
Yokohama Industries  has roped in Singapore-listed GP Batteries International Ltd as a JV partner to manufacture and trade thin metal film (TMF) lead acid batteries. Yokohama said both companies will establish a JV firm where Yokohama and GP will own 70% and 30% respectively. The collaboration was formalised via a JV agreement between Yokohama Industries 100%-owned unit Yokohama Ventures Sdn Bhd and GP’s 80%-owned subsidiary Bolder Technologies Pte Ltd.  The JV will allow Yokohama to gain access to Bolder’s TMF technology. Currently, the 1AH TMF battery produces a cold cranking amperes output equivalent to that of a lead acid starter battery. By combining TMF and Yokohama’s current battery know-how, there are possibilities in developing high-powered batteries both for cranking and start-stop applications. Yokohama Industries said  that nearly all start-stop applications employ supercapacitors paired with  an absorbed glass mat battery. (Financial Daily)

Protasco: Signs service agreement with KL City Hall
Protasco will offer its expertise to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall under a 5-year agreement from Mar 30, 2012 to Mar 29, 2017. Protasco said the agreement will see the firm offering engineering and capacity building services to the client.  The appointment is expected to contribute positively to the earnings and net assets of Protasco for FY2012. According to the company, the appointment is non-exclusive and can be extended for another 5 years, subject to mutual agreement between the City Hall and Protasco. (Financial Daily)

Automotive: MAA maintains 2012 sales at 615,000 units
The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) is maintaining its earlier forecast of 615,000 sales volume this year, despite Bank Negara Malaysia's move to tighten the conditions for lending. Its president Datuk Aishah Ahmad said it was too early to revise the forecast, taking into consideration the required time for car dealers to adapt to the new rules. She also said that following the ruling, some local banks were found to have tightened the rules a little too much and Bank Negara could have talked to these banks.  She said, the first quarter performance is expected to be flat or slightly lower with car dealers just beginning to adapt to the new lending rules. Sales volume for Mar is expected to improve and cover the lower sales recorded in Jan and Feb, with the market adjusting to the stricter requirements in the higher purchase loan application process. (Financial Daily)

Property: MBAM says Malaysia property market not ready for BTS concept
The Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) says the Malaysian property market is not ready for the implementation of the build-then-sell (BTS) model on a compulsory basis. MBAM president Kwan Foh Kwai said property development is a very capital-intensive business with many of the players comprising small-and-medium enterprises. He said the BTS concept would increase the cost as developers would have to bear the interest which is then passed on to buyers. Likewise, he said, buyers are always looking for developers to produce affordable housing for them. Kwan, who is also the MD of the construction division of the Sunway Group, said implementing the BTS model without ample preparation would reduce the property supply in the market. Asked if the Industrialised Building System (IBS) can offset the higher cost of construction with the BTS model, he said it would initially cost more in terms of investment for land, plant and machinery but in the long term, after the producers
have reached investment break-even, IBS would be cheaper. (Bernama)

Timber: Uphill task for timber producers
Malaysia and other timber producing countries have found it extremely difficult to meet the different measures and requirements imposed by consumer nations to ensure that illegal timber products do not enter their markets. Sarawak Timber Association chairman Datuk Wong Kie Yik said these measures, which were unique to each country, were often unclear and difficult to implement due to different definitions, interpretations and shifting of goal posts along the way. He added that these measures have increased costs significantly for the producing countries to meet the requirements while the consumer countries have not reciprocated accordingly in term of pricing (offering higher prices for timber products). He said the association's member companies applying for certification of forest management units had found it difficult to meet the social components of the available certification schemes due to a number of disputes in native customary rights land in Sarawak. (StarBiz)

20120402 1241 Local & Global Economy Related News.

Broad money (M3) expanded at a higher rate of 15.9% yoy in Feb (14.7% in Jan). Net financing to the private sector grew at a sustained pace of 13% yoy in Feb (13.5% in Jan) while total loan outstanding increased 11.9% yoy (12.1% in Jan). (Bank Negara Malaysia)

The job market outlook in Malaysia in 1Q12 has improved compared with the preceding quarter, with companies continuing to hire talents despite global economic uncertainties, said Country Manager Chook Yuh Yng. According to its latest Job Outlook Index for 1Q12, she said 43% has forecasted job outlook to be slightly better while 29% said it would remain the same as 1Q11. She said eventhough the survey on national economy showed 31% of employees expected the economy to slow down, job advertisement numbers on is still quite high. There are about 27,000 jobs available for Malaysians on with 30,000 active hiring companies, she added. On hiring activities, Chook said 44% of the respondents would be hiring fewer people and replacing or filling essential positions only in the next 12 months. Another 25% will be maintaining the hiring rate while 23% said their companies will be expanding their businesses, hence hiring more people, she added. Currently, the highest hiring sectors are manufacturing, information communication and technology, construction/property, banking and financial services and wholesale and retail. (Bernama)

Based on Bursa Malaysia data compiled by Business Times (BT), it was revealed that foreigners were consistent net buyers since 17 Feb – during which foreign fund managers bought over RM13.72bn and sold RM9.34bn worth of stocks, which represented a net buying of about RM4.3bn. Last month, foreign fund managers were net buyers of more than RM3.4bn worth of stocks, making them the net buyers for the sixth consecutive month. (BT)

Singapore’s credit card bad debts rose to S$16.5m in Feb (S$16.1m in Jan), while credit card billings eased to S$2.9bn in Feb (S$3.0bn in Jan). Bank lending moderated to 27.6% yoy in Feb (28.4% in Jan), while M2 money supply growth declined to 9.5% yoy in Feb (9.9% in Jan). (Bloomberg)

Indonesia: Delays fuel price increase
Indonesia’s parliament has given the government conditional authority to raise fuel prices, after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party dropped its push for an increase in 1 Apr. Lawmakers voted 356 to 82 in favor of a proposal by the Democrats to allow an increase if the Indonesia Crude Price, or ICP, exceeds the budget assumption of USD105 a barrel by 15% over a six-month period, Speaker of the House Marzuki Alie said. Two opposition parties walked out on the proceedings. The deliberations took place as about 12,000 demonstrators clashed with police in front of the parliament building 30 March, and a police-estimated 81,000 rallied across the country in the biggest public protests since the government raised fuel prices in 2008. Soaring food and fuel costs in the world’s fourth-most- populous nation contributed to riots that led to the ousting in 1998 of the dictator Suharto, then Asia’s longest-reigning ruler. (Bloomberg)

China: Manufacturing gain masks exporters’ woes
A stronger reading for a Chinese manufacturing gauge failed to end predictions for policy loosening as analysts described the gain as seasonal and a separate survey showed exporters struggling. A Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to a one-year high of 53.1 in March, China’s logistics federation and the National Bureau of Statistics said. The gauge has a pattern of rising each March. Premier Wen Jiabao has pledged to “fine-tune” economic policies as needed as weakness in export demand and a cooling housing market restrain an economy that probably grew at the slowest pace in almost three years in the first quarter. (Bloomberg)

China’s official purchasing managers index (PMI) rose to 53.1 from 51 in Feb, helped by an increase in new orders. (Bloomberg)

China’s MNI March Business Condition Survey fell to 54.81 from 58.87 previously, worse than economists‟ median forecast of a decline to 56.67. (Bloomberg)

Japan’s industrial production fell 1.2% mom in Feb (a revised +1.9% in Jan), confounding expectations for a 1.3% rise on the back of falling output of automobiles and semiconductor production equipment. (AFP)

Japan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 4.5% in Feb (4.6% in Jan), the first improvement in five months and less than the consensus expectation of 4.6%, with the number of people employed rising 290,000 or 0.5% mom to 62.88m. The job-to-applicant ratio rose to 0.75 (0.73 in Jan), higher than consensus expectations of 0.74. (Bloomberg, The Mainichi Daily News)

Japan’s inflation stood at 0.3% yoy in Feb (0.1% in Jan), exceeding economists‟ expectations of no change, whilst core consumer prices rose 0.1% yoy in Feb (-0.1% in Jan), the first gain in five months and is the exact opposite of economists‟ expectations of a 0.1% decline. (Bloomberg)

Japan’s vehicle production expanded 19.7% yoy in Feb, topping the 18.6% gain recorded in Jan. (Bloomberg)

Japan’s annualised housing starts rose to 0.917m in Feb (0.822m in Jan), exceeding the median estimate of 0.840m. Construction orders, however, fell 1.8% yoy in Feb in a reversal of Jan‟s 24.6% gain. (Bloomberg)

Japanese household spending rose 2.3% yoy in Feb in real terms to hit ¥267.895 (-2.3% in Jan), contrasting sharply with the median market forecast for a 0.2% fall. (Reuters)

Japan’s manufacturing output growth reached a five-month high in Mar, as evidenced by the Markit/JMMA Manufacturing PMI rising to 51.1 from Feb‟s 50.5 due to a continued rise in new business. (Markit Economics)

South Korea: Exports fall 1.4% on weakness in global demand
South Korea’s exports were less than analysts forecast in March, sliding 1.4% y-o-y on weakness in global demand. Imports fell 1.2%, leaving a trade surplus of USD2.3bn, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said. Signs that Europe’s debt crisis is easing may improve the outlook for shipments from South Korea, where the economy grew at the slowest pace in two years in the fourth quarter. The Asian nation’s central bank refrained from altering borrowing costs for a ninth month in March as officials balanced price pressures from oil costs against risks posed by stresses in the euro region. (Bloomberg)

South Korean GDP in 4Q11 grew 0.3% qoq, moderating from 3Q11‟s 0.8% rise and is the slowest pace in two years, the Bank of Korea‟s revised figures show. On a yoy basis, the measure moderated to 3.3% from 3Q11‟s revised 3.6%. (AFP)

South Korean industrial production rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8% mom in Feb (a revised 3.2% in Jan), exceeding economists‟ projections of a 0.3% fall. On a yoy basis, the measure rose 14.4%, reversing a revised 2.1% contraction in Jan. (Bloomberg)

The South Korean trade surplus fell to US$2.33bn in Mar (US$2.48bn in Mar 2011) on the back of a sharp fall in exports to Europe and slowing sales to China. (AFP)

EU: Italian bonds drop for third week as boost from ECB loans Wanes
Italian bonds fell for a third week as the nation missed its target at a debt auction and the boost to demand for the securities from European Central Bank liquidity measures waned. Italy auctioned EUR8bn (USD10.6bn) of bonds and floating-rate securities on 29 March, missing its EUR8.25bn maximum target for the sale. Spain’s bonds rose for the first time in four weeks before it sells debt on 4 April. The ECB has lent more than EUR1trn to European financial institutions through its longer-term refinancing operations. (Bloomberg)

European finance ministers neared an agreement to run the temporary and permanent rescue funds in parallel until mid-2013, potentially raising the upper limit on emergency lending to €940bn. (Bloomberg)

Eurozone’s inflation estimate moderated to 2.6% yoy in Mar from 2.7% in Feb, the lowest since Aug but is still higher than the 2.5% expected by economists. (Bloomberg)

Greece has a chance to weather its crisis after the eurozone and private creditors agreed to restructure its debt, but has "a long way to go," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. (AFP)

US: Consumers boost spending as US confidence rises
Americans increased their spending by the most in seven months as an improving labor market boosted confidence, adding to evidence the world’s largest economy is gaining strength. Purchases climbed 0.8% in February, Commerce Department figures showed. The University of Michigan’s final index of consumer sentiment rose to 76.2, the highest since February 2011, from 75.3 last month. Employment gains are helping sustain the consumer spending that accounts for 70% of the economy, lifting sales at companies such as Nike Inc. Another report today showed business activity held near a 10-month high, indicating that the US economy is weathering rising fuel costs. (Bloomberg)

US President Barack Obama called for higher tax rates on wealthy Americans, saying the current system of tax breaks for top income earners was unfair as the taxes they pay are “one of the lowest rates in 50 years.” (AFP)

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final reading of the overall consumer sentiment index rose to 76.2 in Mar from 75.3 in Feb, the highest level since Feb 2011 and exceeding consensus expectations of a gain to 75.0. (Bloomberg, Reuters)

Unemployment rates dropped in almost all US states in Feb, data released by the Labor Department showed. (Reuters)

World: World Bank board said to plan decision on President 1st April
The World Bank plans to pick its new president on 16 Apr after interviewing the three candidates for the post the previous week, according to three officials at the lender’s board. Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is scheduled to meet the 25-person board 9 Apr, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the dates haven’t been made public. Former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo is to be interviewed on 10 Apr, followed by the US candidate, Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim on 11 Apr, the officials said. The new president will succeed Robert Zoellick, whose term ends 30 June. The US is the bank’s largest shareholder, and an American has always held the top job. The bank had previously said it would make a decision by 20 Apr. (Bloomberg)

The World Bank is interested in partnering the development bank proposed by the top five emerging economies known as the BRICS grouping, its president Robert Zoellick said, although he contended “it‟s not an easy sort of task.” (WSJ)

20120402 1228 Global Market Related News.

Asian Stocks Erase Gain on Bets China Won’t Ease Policy (Source: Bloomberg)
Most Asian stocks fell, with a regional benchmark index erasing earlier gains, after a Chinese manufacturing report exceeded estimates and Vice Premier Li Keqiang said the country will continue to stabilize prices. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index swung between gains and losses, rising 0.02 point, or less than 0.1 percent to 126.63 as of 11:26 a.m. in Tokyo. The measure gained 11 percent in the three months ended March 31, the biggest advance since the third quarter of 2010, amid optimism monetary easing in Japan and Europe will spur growth and the U.S. economic recovery is picking up.

Asian Stocks Post Best Quarter Since 2010 on Bernanke (Source: Bloomberg)
Asian stocks rose this week, with the regional benchmark index capping its biggest quarterly gain since 2010, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said accommodative monetary policy is still needed. Gains were limited amid concern China’s economic slowdown is weighing on company earnings. Sharp Corp., which fell to a 30-year low earlier this month, surged 27 percent this week in Tokyo after Foxconn Technology Group agreed to buy a stake in the display maker. Toyota Motor Corp., Asia’s biggest carmaker by market value, rose 3 percent. Korea Gas Corp. (036460), the world’s largest buyer of liquefied natural gas, gained 12 percent in Seoul after its Italian partner found reserves in Mozambique. Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. (16), the world No. 2 real estate company, plunged 9.8 percent in Hong Kong after the firm’s co-chairmen were arrested in a corruption probe.
“You just don’t have sustainability for the markets to reweight higher like they did three or four months ago,” Andrew Pease, Sydney-based chief investment strategist for the Asia- Pacific region at Russell Investment Group, which manages about $150 billion. “You are not going to see any acceleration from here and you may actually feel a bit of moderation” in the U.S. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) rose 0.2 percent to 126.60 this week. The measure jumped 11 percent for the first three months this year, as U.S. economic optimism and monetary easing in Europe, Japan and China fueled the fastest quarterly rally since September 2010.

Yen Drops Versus Peers as Tankan Fuels Easing Speculation (Source: Bloomberg)
The yen weakened versus all of its major peers after a Bank of Japan (8301) report showed that sentiment failed to improve at the nation’s largest companies, stoking prospects the central bank will boost monetary stimulus. The Japanese currency slid against the dollar and euro as signs that manufacturing is improving in the U.S. and China, the world’s two biggest economies, undermined demand for haven assets. The euro remained higher after a quarterly gain versus the greenback as European governments called for a bigger global financial emergency fund after engineering a firewall to fight the region’s debt crisis. “The worse-than-expected Tankan survey seems to be fueling talk that the BOJ will ease policy further,” Lee Wai Tuck, a currency strategist at Forecast Pte in Singapore, said about the central bank’s quarterly sentiment survey. “This is probably leading to selling of the yen.”
The yen lost 0.4 percent to 83.18 per dollar as as of 10:19 a.m. in Tokyo. It slid 0.4 percent to 110.97 per euro. Europe’s 17-nation currency was little changed at $1.3341 after rising 3 percent versus the greenback in the three months ended March 31.

FOREX-Dollar index hits 1-month low, euro supported
LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) - The dollar fell to its lowest in a month against a basket of currencies, extending falls made earlier this week on expectations of further U.S. monetary stimulus and helping the euro gain before a euro zone finance ministers' meeting.
"Raising the size of the euro zone bailout fund will be supportive for the euro, although the market is already aware of it," said Audrey Childe-Freeman, currency strategist at JP Morgan Private Bank.

U.S. Stocks Rise as S&P 500 Posts Best Start Since 1998 (Source: Bloomberg)
U.S. stocks rose this week, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index completing the biggest first- quarter rally since 1998, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said he will keep stimulating the economy and Europe agreed to increase rescue funds. WellPoint Inc. (WLP) surged 11 percent, leading health-care stocks to the biggest rally among 10 S&P 500 groups, amid speculation the U.S. Supreme Court won’t eliminate the insurance mandate while leaving intact other costly provisions in an industry overhaul. Pfizer Inc. (PFE) climbed 3.8 percent after a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analyst said the drugmaker may split itself up. Red Hat Inc. (RHT) jumped 15 percent after the software maker forecast earnings that beat analysts’ estimates.
The S&P 500 rose 0.8 percent to 1,408.47 and closed at the highest level since May 2008 on March 26. It advanced 12 percent during the first quarter, including a 3.1 percent increase in March. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 131.31 points, or 1 percent, to 13,212.04 this week. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.8 percent and surged 19 percent during the quarter, the most to start a year since 1991. “The market can continue to rally into May and the early part of June,” Jon Fisher, a fund manager at Fifth Third Asset Management in Minneapolis, which oversees about $16 billion of assets, said in a telephone interview. “You have all that monetary policy unleashed in the market globally. At the same time, you got a huge improvement in sentiment. Outlooks for the rest of the year are going to continue to be positive.”

European Stocks Retreat for Second Week After S&P Warning (Source: Bloomberg)
European stocks fell for a second week as Standard & Poor’s said Greece may have to restructure its debt again and a European Central Bank policy maker said a bigger firewall will not solve the fiscal crisis. Lenders and oil companies led the drop, with Banca Popolare di Milano Scarl (PMI) slumping 14 percent and Total SA (FP) losing 6.1 percent. FirstGroup Plc (FGP) plunged 18 percent after the U.K. bus and train operator said its bus business faced “challenging trading conditions.” Finmeccanica SpA (FNC), Italy’s biggest defense company, rallied 15 percent after forecasting a return to profit in 2012.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index (SXXP) declined 0.9 percent to 263.32 this past week, even after jumping 1 percent on March 30. The benchmark measure climbed 7.7 percent in the first quarter, its best performance during the first three months of the year since 2006, as the ECB disbursed 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) in three-year loans to the region’s financial institutions and U.S. economic reports beat estimates. “The markets started the first quarter with a dash, but the finish seems to be a lumbered one as liquidity fuel dries out,” said Manish Singh, the London-based head of investment at Crossbridge Capital, which has more than $2 billion under management. “The same old worries still linger -- slowing gross domestic product growth in Europe and a likelihood of Europe’s sovereign stresses flaring again. However, the selloff in the market is more a case of lack of buyers than eagerness to sell.”

World Bank Board Said to Plan Decision on President April 16 (Source: Bloomberg)
The World Bank plans to pick its new president April 16 after interviewing the three candidates for the post the previous week, according to three officials at the lender’s board. Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is scheduled to meet the 25-person board April 9, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the dates haven’t been made public. Former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo is to be interviewed on April 10, followed by the U.S. candidate, Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim on April 11, the officials said. The new president will succeed Robert Zoellick, whose term ends June 30. The U.S. is the bank’s largest shareholder, and an American has always held the top job. The bank had previously said it would make a decision by April 20. World Bank spokesman Frederick Jones declined to comment because the selection process is decided by the board.

Employment Probably Kept Growing in March: U.S. Economy Preview (Source: Bloomberg)
Payrolls in the U.S. probably increased by more than 200,000 workers in March for a fourth consecutive month as companies became more optimistic about the outlook for growth, economists said before a report this week. Employment rose by 205,000 after climbing by 227,000 in February, according to the median projection of 54 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The last time hiring advanced at a similar pace and period was in late 1999-early 2000. The jobless rate probably held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent. The pickup in hiring has boosted consumer confidence to a four-year high, raising the odds that gains in household spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the economy, can be sustained. The improvement in the job market may also help Americans weather the rising cost of gasoline, which Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said posed a risk to growth.
“The underlying health of the economy is getting better,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut. “We’re getting to a point where some of the hurdles to getting a healthier expansion are starting to be removed.”

Treasuries Fall for Second Day After China Manufacturing (Source: Bloomberg)
Treasuries fell for a second day after Chinese factories expanded and as economists said data this week will show U.S. manufacturing and employment increased. U.S. government securities handed investors a 1.3 percent loss in the first quarter, the most since the last three months of 2010, based on Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes. Treasuries slid as the world’s largest economy showed signs of improvement, a shift from 2011 when the debt returned 9.8 percent, the figures show. Ten-year notes yield 45 basis points more than same-maturity German bunds, the most in 13 months. “The best is over for Treasuries,” said Hiroki Shimazu, an economist in Tokyo at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., a unit of Japan’s third-largest publicly traded bank by assets. “The labor market is much stronger than in the second half of last year. Manufacturing will stay at a high level.”
Ten-year yields rose three basis points, or 0.03 percentage point, to 2.24 percent as of 11:06 a.m. in Tokyo, according to Bloomberg Bond Trader prices. The price of the 2 percent security due in February 2022 slid 1/4 or $2.50 per $1,000 face amount, to 97 7/8. While the 10-year note yield has risen from a record low 1.67 percent set Sept. 23, it’s still less than the average for the past decade of 3.86 percent.

China Manufacturing Gain Masks Exporters’ Woes (Source: Bloomberg)
A stronger reading for a Chinese manufacturing gauge failed to end predictions for policy loosening as analysts described the gain as seasonal and a separate survey showed exporters struggling. A Purchasing Managers’ Index (CPMINDX) rose to a one-year high of 53.1 in March, China’s logistics federation and the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. The gauge has a pattern of rising each March. In contrast, a PMI from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics showed manufacturing contracting and export orders falling. Premier Wen Jiabao has pledged to “fine-tune” economic policies as needed as weakness in export demand and a cooling housing market restrain an economy that probably grew at the slowest pace in almost three years in the first quarter. Analysts in a Bloomberg News survey last week unanimously said that banks’ reserve requirements will fall this year, while nine of 20 predicted lower benchmark borrowing costs.
“Policy easing is still needed to avoid a hard landing,” said Shen Jianguang, a Hong Kong-based economist for Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd., who previously worked for the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank. Fiscal spending will be “the driving force” and more cuts in bank reserve requirements are needed, he said.

China Bans Mircoblog Comment as 6 Detained on Coup Rumor (Source: Bloomberg)
A ban on Internet users commenting on posts to China’s two largest microblogging sites enters its third day after the government closed 16 websites and detained six people for spreading rumors of a coup attempt in Beijing. Sina Corp. (SINA), the largest provider of the Twitter-like service with more than 300 million registered users, and Tencent Holdings Ltd. (700), the No. 2 player, announced the 72-hour suspension of the commenting function starting at 8 a.m. March 31, citing a need to clear up rumors and illegal information. Speculation on the Internet on March 20 of a coup attempt helped spark the biggest jump in four months in the cost of insuring against a default on Chinese government bonds. That was five days after Bo Xilai, earlier seen as a contender for promotion to China’s top decision-making body, was removed as party secretary of the municipality of Chongqing.
“Although the punishment was not harsh, it does send a message to other Internet companies to be more cautious in terms of content control,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts Dick Wei and Evan Zhou wrote in a note dated April 1. Tencent fell 1.1 percent to HK$214.20 in Hong Kong trading as of 10:29 a.m. local time. Sina fell 1.1 percent to $65.00 in Nasdaq trading on Mar. 30.

Japan Tankan Confidence Not Improving, Threatens Rebound (Source: Bloomberg)
Sentiment among Japan’s largest manufacturers failed to improve in March as executives predicted the yen will rebound against the dollar, hurting exporters' sales and profits. The quarterly Tankan index was unchanged from minus 4 in December, the Bank of Japan said today in Tokyo. That was less than the median estimate of 25 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News for a reading of minus 1. A negative number means pessimists outnumber optimists. A weakening currency and gains in stock prices this year are giving only a limited boost to confidence as exporters struggle to regain ground lost when the yen surged to a postwar record in October. Today’s report showed that executives expect the sentiment index to remain negative at minus 3 in June and the yen to strengthen about 6 percent from today’s level to average 78.14 per dollar this fiscal year.
“The Tankan signals business managers think it will take awhile for the economy to regain momentum,” Hideo Kumano, chief economist at Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute in Tokyo and a former BOJ official. “They’re still concerned about the risk of the yen appreciating again because they’ve been traumatized by a strong currency.”

S. Korean Inflation Moderates to Slowest Pace in 20 Months (Source: Bloomberg)
South Korea’s consumer prices rose 2.6 percent in March from a year earlier, the slowest pace in 20 months, before a central bank meeting next week to set benchmark interest rates. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 11 analysts was for a 3.2 percent increase. Prices fell 0.1 percent from February, Statistics Korea said today. The Bank of Korea aims to keep inflation at the midpoint of a range of between 2 percent and 4 percent over the medium term. The central bank kept the benchmark seven-day repurchase rate unchanged at 3.25 percent for a ninth month in March as Europe’s debt crisis and austerity measures capped demand for exports. “Inflation may creep up again due to high oil prices and elevated inflation expectations, with the economy likely to gain pace from the second quarter” said Kim Nam Hyun, a Seoul-based fixed income analyst at Eugene Investment (001200) & Futures.
Government subsidies for child care and an expanded free school lunch program cut consumer prices by 0.5 percentage points, Ahn Hyung Jun, a director at Statistics Korea, told reporters in Gwacheon today.

South Korean Exports Fall 1.4% on Weakness in Global Demand (Source: Bloomberg)
South Korea’s exports were less than analysts forecast in March, sliding 1.4 percent from a year earlier on weakness in global demand. Imports fell 1.2 percent, leaving a trade surplus of $2.3 billion, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in an e-mailed statement today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 13 economists was for a 1.3 percent gain in exports. Signs that Europe’s debt crisis is easing may improve the outlook for shipments from South Korea, where the economy grew at the slowest pace in two years in the fourth quarter. The Asian nation’s central bank refrained from altering borrowing costs for a ninth month in March as officials balanced price pressures from oil costs against risks posed by stresses in the euro region. “As external conditions remain fragile, accommodative policy is still required to help the economy gain a firmer footing,” Ronald Man, a Hong Kong-based analyst at HSBC Holdings Plc, said before the release. “Korea remains on path for a gradual recovery in 2012.”
Stocks rallied last quarter on signs of improvement in the global economy.

Japanese Stock Futures Gain on U.S. Confidence, Spending (Source: Bloomberg)
Japanese stocks rose, with the Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) gaining for the first time in four days, as stronger-than-forecast U.S. consumer sentiment and spending bolstered optimism on the global economic recovery. Honda Motor Co. (7267), a carmaker that gets almost half of its revenue in North America, advanced 2.7 percent. Fanuc Corp. (6954), a producer of robotics for mainland factories, gained 2.7 percent on stronger Chinese manufacturing data. Mitsubishi Corp. (8058), Japan’s biggest commodities trader by revenue, climbed 1.6 percent after oil and metals prices rose. “The U.S. economy is moving toward a recovery, boosting expectations Japan will follow,” said Koichi Kurose, chief economist in Tokyo at Resona Bank Ltd. “Investors are buying shares, looking on the bright side of Chinese data.” The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 0.8 percent to 10,163.59 at the trading break in Tokyo, with volume 17 percent higher than the 100-day average. The broader Topix Index gained 0.7 percent to 860.26.

DBS to Buy Temasek Stake in Bank Danamon for $4.9 Billion (Source: Bloomberg)
DBS Group Holdings Ltd. (DBS), Southeast Asia’s biggest bank, will buy control of PT Bank Danamon Indonesia (BDMN) for about $4.9 billion to tap a market growing at the fastest pace since before the Asian financial crisis. DBS will pay Temasek Holdings Pte (TMSK) for 45.2 trillion rupiah ($4.9 billion) for its 67 percent stake and plans a bid to buy the rest of the lender, the Singapore-based bank said in a statement to the Singapore stock exchange. DBS is seeking to tap Danamon’s 3,000-branch network, Indonesia’s second largest, serving 6 million customers. The country’s economy, Southeast Asia’s biggest, grew 6.46 percent last year, the fastest pace since before the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, as rising investment and domestic spending countered a slowdown in export demand. The target for 2012 is 6.5 percent.
The deal will allow DBS “to expand in an important high- growth emerging market,” Jonathan Koh, an analyst at UOB Kay Hian in Singapore, wrote in a note. DBS could “add value by building up Bank Danamon’s corporate banking, investment banking and treasury businesses,” he said.

Euro Leaders Seek Global Help After Firewall Boosted (Source: Bloomberg)
Efforts to resolve the two-year-old European debt crisis swung back to world leaders after euro-area policy makers boosted a firewall designed to overcome doubts about their crisis response and to lure additional emergency aid. Finance ministers from the 17-member monetary union unveiled a package over the weekend including 500 billion euros ($667 billion) in fresh bailout funds on top of 300 billion euros already committed to rescue programs, which together topped the symbolic $1 trillion mark. The total doubles when more than 1 trillion euros lent by the European Central Bank to aid the region’s banks is included. “The political commitment to the eurozone is increasingly clear, and the ECB has shown that, in the final analysis, they’ll do what they have to do,” Erik Nielsen, chief global economist at UniCredit SpA (UCG), wrote in a note to clients yesterday.
Group of 20 nations that rebuffed German-led pleas for more aid in February will be asked to decide this month whether European leaders have done enough to warrant increased resources from the International Monetary Fund. Euro-area finance ministers insisted at a meeting that ended March 31 in Copenhagen that they’ve fulfilled their side of the bargain.

Iraq March Crude Exports Rise to Highest Since 1980 (Source: Bloomberg)
Iraq’s crude oil exports in March rose to the highest level since 1980, a year after former President Saddam Hussein came to power, an Oil Ministry spokesman said. The Middle East country exported 71.827 million barrels, or 2.317 million barrels a day, in March, Asim Jihad said in an e- mailed statement. The exports generated $8.475 billion, with an average price of $118 a barrel, he said. “The exported quantities in March reached a level that Iraq hadn’t seen since 1980,” Jihad said, adding shipments were boosted by a new offshore terminal started operating in February. Iraq holds the world’s fifth-largest oil reserves, according to data from BP Plc (BP/) that include Canadian oil sands. The Arab nation depends on crude exports for money to rebuild the economy after decades of war and sanctions. Iraq has awarded 15 licenses for oil- and gas-drilling rights to foreign companies in the post-Saddam Hussein era, and it plans a new licensing auction in May.
The gain in exports came even as the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region isn’t supplying the agreed quantities, sabotage attacks targeted the northern export pipeline and bad weather slowed tanker shipments in the south, Jihad said.

South Africa’s Fiscal Deficit Set to Be 4.5% for 2011-12 (Source: Bloomberg)
South Africa’s budget deficit will probably be 4.5 percent for the 12-month period that ended yesterday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said. The fiscal gap is narrower than a previous estimate of 4.8 percent of gross domestic product, Gordhan told reporters in Pretoria today. The government collected 742.7 billion rand ($96.8 billion) of revenue, 4 billion rand more than forecast, he said. Government spending was 968.5 billion rand, 4 billion rand less than previously estimated, he said. The “domestic environment is improving,” Gordhan said. “Given the mild optimism about the prospects ahead of us, we can see that revenue performance is following some of those indicators.” Standard & Poor’s cut the outlook on the nation’s credit rating last week to negative as growth in Africa’s largest economy slows this year, making it harder for the government to rein in the fiscal deficit. The government unexpectedly lowered its target for the budget gap this fiscal year as tax revenue is forecast to rise.
Economic growth will slow to 2.7 percent this year from 3.1 percent last year, Gordhan said on Feb. 22. Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus revised the bank’s forecast higher to 3 percent on March 29, citing an improved global outlook.

Dubai Shares Extend Best Start to Year Since 2005; Egypt Drops (Source: Bloomberg)
Dubai’s benchmark stock index rose, extending its best start to a year since 2005, amid investor optimism corporate earnings may beat expectations as the emirate recovers from the debt crisis. Egyptian shares fell. Gulf Navigation Holding PJSC (GULFNAV), Dubai’s only publicly traded tanker owner, climbed to the highest in week after reporting results. Dubai Financial Market PJSC (DFM) rose to the highest in two weeks. The DFM General Index (DFMGI) advanced 0.8 percent to 1,661.67 at the 2 p.m. close in the emirate, taking this year’s rally to 23 percent. The measure is the third-best performing gauge in the Middle East this year after Egypt’s and Saudi Arabia’s. The EGX 30 Index (EGX30) tumbled the most in a week amid rising political tension between the military and the dominant Islamist group.
Three years after Dubai almost defaulted on about $25 billion of debt, corporate earnings are improving as the economy recovers. Dubai Financial Market, the only publicly traded stock market in the Persian Gulf, is forecast to return to profit this year as trading volumes rise. Emaar Properties PJSC (EMAAR), the developer of the world’s tallest skyscraper, may report a 10 percent increase in net income this year, according to the mean estimate of 12 analysts on Bloomberg. “The global macro picture is more positive than in 2011 and strong corporate results and dividend announcements in the United Arab Emirates are also helping,” said Samer Darwiche, an associate at Dubai-based Gulfmena Investments Ltd.

Suu Kyi’s Party Declares Victory as Myanmar Opens Up (Source: Bloomberg)
Myanmar dissident Aung San Suu Kyi will become a lawmaker for the first time after a victory in by- elections yesterday that may prompt the U.S. and European Union to lift sanctions and end the country’s global isolation. “The Lady has won,” Nyan Win, a spokesman for her National League for Democracy party, said by phone from Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, amid loud cheers from her supporters. “This is a big victory for us.” The party won at least 35 of 45 seats in the first vote it contested since the army discarded a 1990 victory, Nyan Win said, giving it representation in the 664-member Parliament that will still be dominated by President Thein Sein’s party. Suu Kyi, who spent 15 years under house arrest and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent struggle, boycotted a 2010 election that ended five decades of direct military rule.
The vote may open the door for the end of sanctions that prevent companies from General Electric Co. (GE) to Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) from investing in the country of 64 million people bordering China and India. Thein Sein has moved to modernize Myanmar’s political and economic system since taking power a year ago, including a managed float of its currency set to take effect yesterday.

20120402 1227 Soy Oil & Palm Oil Related News.

ITS CPO export up 4.77% to 1,233,444 tonnes for the period of 1~31 Mar 2012.

Soybean Complex Market Recap (Source: CME)
Sun 01 Apr 2012 24:00:15 CT
May Soybeans finished up 47 1/2 at 1403, 13 off the high and 49 1/2 up from the low. July Soybeans closed up 47 at 1408 1/4. This was 48 1/4 up from the low and 13 3/4 off the high. May Soymeal closed up 13.7 at 388.7. This was 13.6 up from the low and 5.6 off the high. May Soybean Oil finished up 1.51 at 55.1, 0.25 off the high and 1.41 up from the low. May soybeans closed 47 1/2 higher on the session and up 37 1/4 for the week. The rally pushed the market to the highest level since September 14th. The much lower than expected acreage helped spark aggressive buying in new crop soybeans to drive November soybeans as much as 65 1/4 cents higher in early trade. November soybeans closed 53 1/4 cents higher. Planted acreage came in at just 73.9 million acres, which was well below trade expectations for 75.4 million. Iowa plantings were down 550,000 from last year and plantings were down 200,000 from last year in Indiana, Minnesota and Nebraska. The USDA pegged March 1st stocks at 1.372 billion bushels compared with trade expectations at 1.39 billion. With the surge in expected demand for US soybeans due to crop losses in South America, traders believed that planted area needs to increase to 76 or 77 million. The USDA also confirmed a sale of 120,000 tonnes of US soybeans to unknown destination. The China National Grains and Oils Information Center believes China imports for the marketing year ending in September will reach 57 million tonnes, up 8.9% from the previous year. With a smaller South America crop, US demand looks to improve. The USDA sees China import demand at 55 million tonnes. Two million tonnes is equal to near 73.4 million bushels. Some traders see China soybean production below 13 million tonnes this coming season as compared with 13.5 million last year as some acres are shifting to corn.

Soybean Market Strength in Next 9 Months (Source: CME)
By CME Group - Fri 30 Mar 2012 09:04:28 CT
In a presentation to CME Group Customers and media on the USDA Prospective Plantings report today, Chief Economist AG Resource, Bill Tierney suggests “the strength in the soybean markets is going to be in the next 9 months. Depending on how much China purchases, the market will change over that period.”

Kitt: Soybean Acreage Could Increase by 2 Million over USDA projection (Source: CME)
By CME Group - Fri 30 Mar 2012 09:01:33 CT
In a presentation to CME Group customers and media on the USDA Prospective Plantings report today Jerrod Kitt, Director of Research at Linn Group suggested “We wouldn’t be surprised if we added 2 million soybean acres on this latest run up.” He added that there’s been reports of seed corn shortage, which, if true, may result in more soybeans planted later.

Soybean Acreage Far Below Expectations (Source: CME)
By CME Group - Fri 30 Mar 2012 08:48:29 CT
In a presentation to CME Group Customers and media on the USDA Prospective Plantings report today, Chief Economist AG Resource, Bill Tierney suggests. "The big surprise was the lower acreage expected for soybeans" The report forecasted 73.9 million acres planted for soybeans, 2.1 percent below the industry average of expectations.”  He added that there have been only 2 years where the report was this far below expectations for soybeans.

USDA Grain Stocks Report: SoyBeans Up From 2011. Down From Dec '11 to Feb '12 (Source: CME)
By CME Group - Fri 30 Mar 2012 08:29:15 CT
All soybeans, stored on March 1, 2012, totaled 1.37 billion bushels.  This was a 10% increase from March 1, 2011.   Soybeans stored on farms are also up 10%, estimated at 555 million bushels.   Off-farm stored soybeans also were estimated to be up 10% at 817 million bushels.   However, 998 million bushels, from December 2011 to February 2012 were estimated to be down 3% from the same period a year ago.

VEGOILS-Palm oil extends losses for a third day, USDA eyed
SINGAPORE, March 30 (Reuters) - Malaysian palm oil futures extended its losing streak into a third day as traders grew cautious ahead of a key U.S. report on soybean plantings and stocks, although healthy demand for the edible oil curbed losses
"Prices were down and it could be due to the market pricing in the USDA reports on plantings and maybe the market is not very optimistic about it," said Selena Leong, an analyst at DMG & Partners Research in Singapore.

China 2011/12 soy imports seen up 8.9 pct y/y -CNGOIC
BEIJING, March 30 (Reuters) - China, the world's top soy importer, is expected to import about 57 million tonnes of the oilseed in the year to Sept. 30, up 8.9 percent from the previous year, according to the latest estimate from an official think-tank.
Chinese crushers have increased imports to meet robust demand from the livestock breeding sector as the industry has  also expanded crushing capacity this year.

Argentine soy crop cut again as drought bites-Exchange
BUENOS AIRES, March 29 (Reuters) - Argentina's 2011/12 soy output was estimated at 45 million tonnes, down from a previous forecast of 46.2 million tonnes, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said Thursday, citing drought-related losses in the northern growing areas.
A dry spell at the height of the Southern Hemisphere summer in December and January cut into Argentina's crop yields. The country is the world's top exporter of soymeal, used as animal feed, and of soyoil, used for cooking and in biofuels.

20120402 1227 Global Commodities Related News.

Funds Cut Bullish Bets, Goldman Goes Neutral: Commodities (Source: Bloomberg)
Investors pared bullish commodity bets on signs of slowing growth in China and as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its recommendation on raw materials. Hedge funds and other money managers reduced combined net- long positions across 18 U.S. futures and options by 1.8 percent to 1.14 million contracts in the week ended March 27, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Bullish wagers on hogs fell the most, dropping 31 percent to the lowest since June, while those on gold had the biggest gain, rising 15 percent, the largest increase since the end of January. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index of 24 raw materials tumbled 2.1 percent last week, paring this year’s advance to 6.8 percent. Goldman cut its three-month recommendation on March 28, warning that the economy will “soften” this quarter.
Societe Generale SA said March 27 that Chinese corporate profits won’t grow at all this year, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said two days later that the pace of the U.S recovery has been “extremely sluggish.” “The story over the near term is probably one of weakness,” said Anthony Valeri, a market strategist at LPL Financial in San Diego, which oversees $330 billion of assets. “There are some renewed concerns over China’s economic growth. That’s been the negative for commodities.”

GRAINS-U.S. wheat rises from 2-month low, USDA report eyed
SINGAPORE, March 30 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat edged higher taking a breather after sliding to a two-month low in the last session in a selloff before a key U.S. quarterly report on plantings and stocks.
"It is mainly position squaring and there is nothing much to do with physical activity, the market is more concerned about plantings for the next year," said Ker Chung Yang, an analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.

Brazil 2012/13 corn output seen record high
March 29 (Reuters) - Following are selected highlights from a report issued by a U.S. Department of Agriculture attache in Brazil:
"2012/13 corn production is forecast at a record 68 million tonnes, with exports placed at 12.5 million tonnes. 2012/13 wheat and rough rice production are forecast to recover planted area lost to production in 2011/12 and to reach 6.1 million tonnes and 13.5 million tonnes, respectively. 2011/12 rice exports are forecast at 900,000 tonnes.
"U.S. wheat exports in 2011/12 are estimated to reach 700,000 tonnes, the second highest level on record. With the 2011/12 rice prices and trade environment, rice exports are projected at 700,000 tonnes without the support of government programs."

French farmers, seedmakers appeal government GMO ban
PARIS, March 29 (Reuters) - French maize growers and seed companies appealed a ban on the cultivation of a strain of genetically modified maize to the country's highest court on Thursday, saying it was unjustified and economically harmful for farmers.
France placed a temporary ban on the growth of Monsanto's  MON810 GMO maize (corn) earlier this month after a previous moratorium was annulled by the country's top court in November on the basis that it was not sufficiently justified.

China may buy 2 mln T of Vietnamese rice, support prices
HANOI, March 29 (Reuters) - Vietnam's rice exports to neighbouring China could climb six-fold this year, a Vietnamese industry official was quoted as saying on Thursday, supporting domestic prices during the peak harvest season.
Two million tonnes of rice imports will bring China close to the world's top buyers, Indonesia and Nigeria, even though some traders were sceptical about a large jump in purchases by the world's biggest producer and consumer of the staple.

Weather, Not Economics, May Alter USDA projections (Source: CME)
By CME Group - Fri 30 Mar 2012 09:03:02 CT
In a presentation to CME Group Customers and media on the USDA Prospective Plantings report today, Chief Economist AG Resource, Bill Tierney suggests "Weather intervenes preventing farmers from planting all their acreage. It’s weather that causes changes, and not necessarily economic incentives. Mostly these reports are accurate with the exception of some unexpected weather events.” He added that this typically means farmers may plant more corn that the report suggests, but not necessarily more soybeans.

Commodities Demand From China Will Grow (Source: CME)
By CME Group - Fri 30 Mar 2012 09:21:41 CT
In a presentation to CME Group customers and media on the USDA Prospective Plantings report today, Scott Shellady, Derivatives Manager for ICAP US said. “In the next 2-3 years, I think we’re going to have some sort of banking crisis in China, along with increased demand... The demand from China will only grow.” He added that this will especially impact corn.

USDA Spring Wheat Projections “Right on the Nose” (Source: CME)
By CME Group - Fri 30 Mar 2012 09:07:57 CT
In a presentation to CME Group customers and media on the USDA Prospective Plantings report today Jerrod Kitt, Director of Research at Linn Group suggested, “12 million spring wheat acreage is right on the nose. The USDA hit it out of the park.”  He added that the competition for acreage between wheat and other commodities like oats in places like the Dakotas will be worth watching.

Soybean, Wheat Acres below Market Estimates; Corn Acres Pegged Higher (Source: CME)
Summary of USDA Reports from DTN/The Progressive Farmer
WASHINGTON (DTN) -- USDA's prospective planting report on Friday bumped up estimated corn planting this spring by 1.9 million acres from earlier forecasts at the expense of lowering projected acreage for both soybeans and wheat. The higher corn acreage reflects greater demand as USDA also totaled corn quarterly stocks to 6.01 billion bushels, which is lower than pre-report estimates from analysts. USDA projected farmers will plant 95.9 million acres of corn this spring - the highest acreage level since 1937. In bumping up corn acreage, USDA lowered soybean acreage to 73.9 million acres.

Soybean futures reacted with sharp gains to this morning's shockingly low soybean plantings intention figure from USDA. Beans closed mostly 40-plus cents higher today, with May beans moving to their highest level since mid-August and closed above the psychological $14.00 level. May beans ended 37 1/4 cents above last week's close. What today's report told traders is the market has not yet done its job of bidding for soybean acres. (Source: CME)

May corn futures closed limit up (40 cents) while the July contract finished just a 1/2 cent shy of today's limit. The September contract forward ended 13 3/4 to 18 1/2 cents higher. Despite today's strong to limit-up gains, corn futures ended lower for the week -- slightly lower in old-crop contracts; sharply lower in new-crop futures. The strong close to the week points to followthrough buying next week. (Source: CME)

Wheat futures surged sharply higher today. All locations settled with gains falling within the range of 38 1/2 to 51 1/2 cents, with most contracts ending near the top of this range. This helped Chicago wheat to finish with slight weekly gains. Today’s bullish USDA report data for wheat sets the market up to start the month of March on a bullish note, as all wheat plantings of 55.9 million acres were well below expectations as were quarterly grain stocks of 1.2 billion bushels. (Source: CME)

Cotton futures traded on both sides of unchanged today, but ultimately settled high-range with slight gains of 16 to 28 points in all but April contract, which was 2 points lower. Cotton futures wrapped up the month of March and the week with strong gains. Next week, an Indian ministerial panel will decide whether to grant new cotton export permits.  (Source: CME)

USDA Grain Stocks Report: Wheat Down from 2011 (Source: CME)
By CME Group - Fri 30 Mar 2012 08:36:35 CT
All wheat stored on March 1, 2012, totalling 1.20 billion bushels, decreased 16% from a year ago.    On-farm stocks were down 25% from last March at 217 million bushels.    Off-farm stocks were down 14% from a year ago, and estimated at 983 million bushels. Wheat stored from December 2011 - February 2012 lost 462 million bushels, down 9% from the same period a year earlier.

U.S. Wheat Rises From 2-month Low, USDA Report Eyed (Source: CME)
By Thomson Reuters - Fri 30 Mar 2012 09:32:24 CT
Chicago wheat edged higher , taking a breather after sliding to a two-month low in the last session in a selloff before a key U.S. quarterly report on plantings and stocks. "It is mainly position squaring and there is nothing much to do with physical activity, the market is more concerned about plantings for the next year," said Ker Chung Yang, an analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.

Pre-Opening Wheat Market Report (Source: CME)
Sun 01 Apr 2012 24:00:17 CT
May wheat was trading 1 1/4 cents higher late in the overnight session. Outside market forces look supportive this morning with a weaker US dollar and strength in equity markets. Traders await the results of the USDA stocks and planted acreage reports for direction this morning. Traders see planted acreage near 57.4 million acres which is down 600,000 acres from the USDA Outlook Forum in late February but up near 3 million acres from last year. Traders see March 1st stocks near 1.223 billion bushels which is down 202 million from last year. May wheat collapsed to close sharply lower on the session yesterday as fund traders were active sellers across a wide range of commodity markets. The lack of a freeze in the forecast for the plains next week and beyond plus a continued long liquidation trend from speculators in corn and other commodity markets helped to pressure. Talk that the weather is turning a little wetter in Western Europe into later next week was also seen as a negative force as the rain should ease dryness concerns. The aggressive selling pushed the market to the lowest level since December 19th. Weekly export sales for wheat came in at 226,100 metric tonnes for the current marketing year and 177,000 for the next marketing year for a total of 403,100 which was below trade expectations. Sales of 178,000 metric tonnes are needed each week to reach the USDA forecast. May wheat is down as much as 59 1/4 cents from Monday's peak. With specs already heavily net short coming into the week, it may take negative news from the USDA reports just to justify this week's collapse. The European Union this week granted export licenses for 210,000 tonnes of wheat which pushed the exports for the season to 10.5 million tonnes as compared with 15.4 million last year by this date.

Wheat Market Recap Report (Source: CME)
Sun 01 Apr 2012 24:00:17 CT
May Wheat finished up 48 1/4 at 660 3/4, 8 off the high and 48 up from the low. July Wheat closed up 46 3/4 at 674. This was 46 1/4 up from the low and 6 off the high. May wheat closed 48 1/4 cents higher on the session and up 6 1/2 cents higher for the week. The steep drop in plantings for spring wheat plus ideas that funds needed to exit shorts helped to drive the market sharply higher. A steady flow of speculative buying with some of the buying thought to be fund trader short covering helped to drive the market to new highs for the day into the mid-session. Bullish news for the corn and soybean markets plus much smaller than expected planted acreage for the spring wheat crop helped to support the buying. The USDA pegged total wheat planted acreage for 2012 at 55.908 million acres compared with trade expectations for 57.4 million. Spring wheat planted area was just 11.976 million acres compared with trade expectations at 13.3 million. March 1st wheat stocks came in at 1.201 billion bushels compared with trade expectations near 1.223 billion. Weather looks mostly negative with some rain in the forecast for Europe next week and a lack of freezing temperatures for the US. May Oats closed up 5 3/4 at 341 1/4. This was 5 1/4 up from the low and 8 3/4 off the high.

Corn Market Recap for 3/30/2012 (Source: CME)
Sun 01 Apr 2012 24:00:00 CT
May Corn finished up 40 at 644, equal to the high and 40 up from the low. July Corn closed up 39 1/2 at 643 1/4. This was 39 1/2 up from the low and 1/2 off the high. May corn closed 40 cents higher on the session and down just 2 1/2 cents for the week. Aggressive speculative buying supported the higher opening and the buying continued to drive the market higher into the mid-session with the market closing limit-up on the day with a 6.6% gain. December corn closed 16 cents higher with an outside-day. The USDA pegged corn planted acreage at 95.864 million acres compared versus trade expectations at 94.7 million. This is the highest planted acreage since 1937. Increases were noted for North Dakota, (up 1.17) Minnesota, (up 600,000) Nebraska, (450,000) and Ohio (400,000). March 1st stocks were pegged at just 6.009 billion bushels compared with trade expectations at 6.15 billion. The report news is mixed, as planted acres came in higher than expected but stocks lower. The stocks report showed that there are about 140 million fewer bushels of corn than expected. Weather looks favorable for planting in the next few weeks. Traders see the stocks number as an important indicator for better than expected demand over the past quarter and this could drive ending stocks to historically tight levels. May Rice finished down 0.135 at 14.765, 0.215 off the high and 0.215 up from the low.

Corn, Wheat, Soy Rise, Renewing Food-Inflation Concern (Source: Bloomberg)
Corn prices surged the most since June 2010, wheat had its biggest gain in five months, and soybeans rallied after government forecasts signaled tighter U.S. crop supplies, renewing concerns that food inflation will quicken. Corn inventories on March 1 fell more than analysts forecast to the lowest for this time of year since 2004, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. Wheat reserves dropped to a three-year low, and planting intentions trailed estimates. Farmers will sow 73.902 million acres with soybeans this year, down 1.4 percent from 2011 and the lowest in five years, the agency said after surveying farmers. Global food prices rose to an all-time high last year, triggering unrest in northern Africa and the Middle East. The United Nations said this month that grain imports by the world’s poorest countries will climb to a record in the 12 months ending June 30. The U.S. was the world’s biggest exporter of corn, soybeans and wheat last year.
“There is no question we will see higher food prices this year,” Steve Nicholson, a commodity procurement specialist at International Food Production Corp. in Fenton, Missouri, said in a telephone interview. “You have to see prices go up to stimulate global production and ration declining supplies.” On the Chicago Board of Trade, corn futures for May delivery jumped by the exchange limit of 40 cents, or 6.6 percent, to close at $6.44 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. That was the biggest gain for a most-active contract since June 30, 2010. The advance pared the decline for the quarter to 0.4 percent.

Corn Futures Gain as Much as 1.6% to Highest Level in One Week (Source: Bloomberg)
Corn for May delivery climbed as much as 1.6 percent to $6.545 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, the highest since March 26. Futures traded at $6.54 by 9:26 a.m. Melbourne time. Soybeans for May delivery rose 0.6 percent to $14.1175 a bushel, while May-delivery wheat gained 0.5 percent to $6.6425 a bushel.

Mexico considering 250,000-MT sugar import quota-industry
MEXICO CITY, March 29 (Reuters) - Mexico's economy ministry could approve sugar imports of 250,000 tonnes next month due to shortages from a long drought, sugar industry sources said.
A proposal for the quota is currently with the ministry's regulatory commission and if approved would likely be published in April, even though local sugar producers are against more imports, Mexico's cane growers' union on Thursday.

Colombia's southern provinces to help spur coffee output
BOGOTA, March 29 (Reuters) - Colombia's southern provinces have emerged as new coffee power-houses that may help the Andean nation recover from a three-year output slump with expansion of production areas at a time when traditional coffee regions face continued decline.
Provinces such as Huila, which has overtaken the traditional coffee-growing areas of Antioquia, will be crucial in helping Colombia recover its historic output battered by torrential rains, a fungus outbreak, and coffee renovation program that has cut production.

Brazil to turn credit weapon on falling coffee price
BRASILIA, March 29 (Reuters) - Brazil plans to boost loans to coffee producers in hopes of supporting prices by encouraging them to stockpile beans during the large upcoming harvest, the agriculture ministry's top coffee official said.
The plan is to increase lending from the main government credit line to coffee growers specifically for the purpose of tiding growers over financially when they defer sales, and avoid an early rush to the market that would drive prices down.

Brazil industry leader urges ethanol tax cuts
LONDON, March 29 (Reuters) - Brazil's ethanol taxes should be cut to make biofuel more competitive with gasoline for the Brazilian motorist, cane industry leader Marcos Jank said on Thursday.
Jank, president and CEO of sugarcane industry association Unica, told Reuters the ethanol industry in Brazil faces low margins, which is discouraging new investments.

Oil Rises a Second Day as China Economy Boosts Demand Outlook (Source: Bloomberg)
Oil advanced for a second day in New York on signs that the economy is improving in China, the world’s second-biggest crude-consuming nation. Futures rose as much as 0.5 percent after a purchasing managers’ index climbed to a one-year high in March. Oil capped a 4.2 percent gain in the first quarter as President Barack Obama said March 30 that world supplies are sufficient to proceed with new sanctions against Iran. “The firmer tone relates to the official Chinese PMI reading, and that reverses the negative sentiment we’ve seen around China,” said Michael McCarthy, a chief market strategist at CMC Markets Asia Pacific Pty in Sydney. “That speaks well to demand. The Middle East seems to be quietly boiling away without any signs at this stage of a blow-up.” Oil for May delivery gained as much as 56 cents to $103.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $103.34 at noon Sydney time. While prices rose in the first quarter, they fell 3.8 percent in March.
Brent oil for May settlement increased 44 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $123.32 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark contract’s premium to New York-traded West Texas Intermediate was at $20, up from $19.86 on March 30, the most since Oct. 24.

Oil firmer on weak dollar, supply worries
LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) - Oil rose above $123 a barrel, reversing three straight sessions of losses, supported by a weaker dollar and expectations of tight gasoline supplies in the world's largest oil consumer the United States.
"Prices are still very rangebound," said Amrita Sen from Barclays in London. "Overall prices are within a range, still constrained by fears on upside of strategic petroleum release and on the downside by the strong fundamentals and geopolitical concerns."

Russia gasoline, gasoil, fuel oil exports fell in February
MOSCOW, March 30 (Reuters) - Russian refined products exports fell in February month-on-month, while domestic supplies rose, Energy Ministry data showed.        
Exports of gasoline fell by 16.9 percent versus January, mostly on account of Surgutneftegas`  and Gaspromneftekhim Salavat. The companies reduced supplies abroad by 50 and 40.8 percent respectively compared to previous month.