Tuesday, April 24, 2012

20120424 1813 FCPO EOD Daily Chart Study.

FCPO closed : 3463, changed : -12 points, volume : lower.
Bollinger band reading : side way range bound.
MACD Histogram : falling lower, buyer seller battling.
Support : 3450, 3420, 3380, 3350 level.
Resistance : 3470, 3500, 3550, 3620 level.
Comment :
FCPO closed recorded small loss with shrinking volume transacted. Soy oil price currently rebounding higher after overnight dropped about 1.5% while crude oil moving side way between gain and losses.
FCPO price opened little higher but swing back to negative zone and move range bound after negative development over soy oil and weaker global market performance amid slowing down global economy will affect commodities demand and ahead of tomorrow export data.
Daily chart analysis revised to calling a side way range bound development between 3520 and 3440 price range.
When to buy : buy at support or weakness with quick cut loss and profit target.
When to sell : sell at resistant or strength with quick cut loss and profit target.

20120424 1737 FKLI EOD Daily Chart Study.

FKLI closed : 1576.5 changed : +2 points, volume : higher.
Bollinger band reading : downside biased with possible pullback correction.
MACD Histogram : falling lower, seller taking exposure.
Support : 1570, 1565, 1550, 1540 level.
Resistance : 1580, 1590, 1595, 1600 level.
Comment :
FKLI closed recorded small gain with rising volume changed hand doing 5.5 points discount compare to cash market that closed slightly lower. Overnight U.S. markets closed lower and today Asia markets rebounded higher after yesterday plunge while European markets also rebounding upward.
Global markets having technical rebound after yesterday recorded severe falls ahead of U.S. consumer confidence and home sales data while unsettle European debts and France political development factor remained investors concern.
Technical chart reading swith to suggesting a downside 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.

20120424 1718 Regional Markets EOD Daily Chart Study.

DJIA chart reading : correction range bound downside biased.
 Hang Seng chart reading : side way range bound.
KLCI chart reading :  side way range bound.

20120424 1635 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

Asian shares inched up but gains were limited as political uncertainty and disappointing data in Europe raised fears the euro zone could struggle to push through austerity measures and may stay in recession until late in the year.  U.S. stocks fell on Monday as political turmoil in Europe cast doubts on the euro zone's ability to push through measures to end its debt crisis and as Wal-Mart sank following a report it stymied a bribery probe.

The Australian dollar hit a two-week trough after soft inflation data bolstered expectations of deep interest rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of Australia, while the euro was subdued ahead of a debt sale in the Netherlands.

FOREX-Aussie at 2-wk low as inflation data opens door to rate cut
TOKYO, April 24 (Reuters) - The Australian dollar hit a two-week trough after soft inflation data bolstered expectations of deep interest rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of Australia, while the euro was subdued ahead of a debt sale in the Netherlands. "Certainly the prospects of them going (cutting) more than once is going up, the way the European situation is developing."

Australia says end-March wheat stocks dip 9 pct
Australia's bulk storage of wheat fell 2 million tonnes from the previous month to 21.3 million tonnes at the end of March, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.

U.S. wheat edged up, while corn was little changed after climbing 1.6 percent in the last session on forecasts for crop-threatening cold weather and talk of Chinese buying.

Vietnam 2012/13 coffee output to rise 10 pct in Daklak-official
Output from the next 2012/2013 coffee crop in Daklak, Vietnam's top growing province, is forecast to rise around 10 percent to 430,000-450,000 tonnes, or 7.2 million to 7.5 million bags, thanks to good weather, an industry official said on Tuesday.

Brazil cotton exports seen record large -producers
Brazil's 2011/12 cotton exports should jump by more than half from last season to a record 1.3 million tonnes, the national producers' association said, as cooling domestic demand shifts the sector's focus to foreign markets.

Brent crude was steady under $119 a barrel as fears over the health of the euro zone economies and political uncertainty countered worries over a production stoppage in the North Sea and potential supply disruptions from Iran.

India says importing 14 mln tonnes of oil from Iran
India, the second-largest consumer of Iranian oil after China, said it was now importing 14 million tonnes of crude from Iran and has "substantially" reduced its imports from the country as the deadline to comply with Western sanctions against Tehran looms.

COLUMN-Global steel output too good to last?
--Andy Home is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own--
LONDON, April 23 (Reuters) - Global steel production was on a surge at the end of the first quarter, apparently shrugging off a period of weakness over the end of last year and the beginning of this year.  
Indeed, in annualised terms March's output of 1,557 million tonnes was an all-time record, marginally eclipsing the previous high seen in June 2011, according to the latest figures from the World Steel Association.

German steel industry sees demand steadying
HANNOVER, Germany, April 23 (Reuters) - The German steel industry, which includes sector giants such as Salzgitter  and ThyssenKrupp , said on Monday demand was stabilising. "After a massive reduction of stock during the fourth quarter of 2011, steel processors and especially the distribution sector have refilled their inventories during the beginning of this year," the main industry association said.

US rejects duties on steel wire from China, Mexico
WASHINGTON, April 23 (Reuters) - A U.S. trade panel on M onday rejected proposed duties on steel wire from China and Mexico after determining U.S. producers were not harmed or threatened by the imports. The U.S. International Trade Commission voted 4-2 to deny duties in the case filed last year by steel wire companies in California, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Michigan and Oklahoma.

London copper rose as arbitrage traders took advantage of a price fall in the previous session that helped narrow its premium over Shanghai copper.  

Gold struggled to move higher in thin trade as investors waited for a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting to shed some light on the central bank's monetary policy amid caution over a resurfacing crisis in Europe.

METALS-Copper treads water on investors' caution
SHANGHAI, April 24 (Reuters) - Copper was largely flat as political uncertainty and lacklustre economic data in Europe kept investors on the sidelines waiting for clearer price signals in a market dulled by China's high stockpiles and weaker than expected demand. "We are stuck somewhere in the middle of a technical range where the shorts don't want prices to be any higher and longs don't want prices to be any lower," said an LME trader.

PRECIOUS-Gold edges down amid euro zone worries; Fed eyed
SINGAPORE, April 24 (Reuters) - Gold edged lower as investors waited for a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting to shed some light on the central bank's monetary policy amid caution over a resurfacing crisis in Europe. "If the Fed fails to hint at more quantitative easing, we may see a sharp drop in gold prices," said Hou Xinqiang, an analyst at Jinrui Futures in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

20120424 1100 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares fall on European political uncertainty
TOKYO, April 24 (Reuters) - Asian shares fell  on Tuesday as political uncertainty and disappointing data in Europe raised fears the euro zone could struggle to push through austerity measures and may stay in recession until late in the year.
"Fragmented euro zone politics over austerity implementation is quickly becoming the disorder of the day," said Ashraf Laidi, chief global strategist at City Index.

COMMODITIES-Copper slides on Europe worries; natgas jumps
NEW YORK, April 23 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell about 2 percent o n M onday along with most commodities after dismal data on the European services sector dampened hopes of the euro zone's recovery, while forecasts of a cold snap boosted natural gas and grain markets.  "Financial markets are in panic mode at the moment, and that is putting pressure on assets perceived as risky such as base metals," said Peter Fertig, consultant at Quantitative Commodity Research.    

OIL- Oil dips on euro zone worry, N. Sea supports
NEW YORK, April 23 (Reuters) - Oil edged lower on Monday on pressure from revived concerns about a euro zone economic slump and political uncertainty, while a North Sea production problem and worries about Iran and potential supply disruptions limited losses.
"The North Sea Buzzard news helped pull Brent off its lows and probably kept it from dropping as much as U.S. crude," said Dominick Chirichella, senior partner at the Energy Management Institute in New York.

India says importing 14 mln tonnes of oil from Iran
WASHINGTON, April 23 (Reuters) - India, the second-largest consumer of Iranian oil after China, said it was now importing 14 million tonnes of crude from Iran and has "substantially" reduced its imports from the country as the deadline to comply with Western sanctions against Tehran looms.
Iran's trading partners, such as India, China and South Korea, are trying to stop relying on Iranian crude by the end of June when U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil transactions go into effect.

Oil traders could face new rules on purchases
GENEVA, April 23 (Reuters) - Oil traders buying from national oil firms could face new disclosure rules within a year if measures designed to crack down on the traditionally opaque realm being discussed by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) come into force.  
Norwegian non-governmental organisation (NGO) EITI, said it had already implemented these rules in Iraq and Norway although this will be its first attempt to bring such transparency measures to oil-rich regions like Africa.

China cuts Iran oil imports in March most this year
BEIJING/SEOUL, April 23 (Reuters) - China halved its Iranian crude imports in March compared with a year earlier due to disputes over contract terms, its deepest cut so far this year as Western sanctions complicate Tehran's oil exports.
South Korea cut its imports by 40 percent in March from a year earlier, official data showed, as it sought to secure an exemption from U.S. sanctions. Japan, which has secured a waiver, made steep cuts in April imports.

US natgas ends up 4 pct, bounces off 10-yr low
NEW YORK, April 23 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures rose 4 percent on Monday, climbing for a second straight trading day, after mild spring weather and persistent concerns over record-high supplies pushed prices to their lowest in more than 10 years last week.
"After being sold relentlessly over the past several months, breaking the psychological $2.00 per mmBtu level last week, natural gas prices reversed course on short covering and profit taking," said Caprock Risk Management's president, Chris Jarvis.

Euro Coal-July DES trades at API2 -$3.10
LONDON, April 23 (Reuters) - European prompt physical coal prices were little changed on Monday but two Q3 DES ARA trades took place at over $3.00 a tonne below the API2 index, a level which some players took as a bearish signal.
"This doesn't bode well for Q3 prices if anybody's willing to sell at that kind of a discount now," one trader said.

20120424 1039 Global Economy Related News.

Singapore: Inflation accelerates more than estimated to 5.2%
Singapore’s inflation accelerated more than economists estimated in March, justifying the central bank’s decision to tighten monetary policy this month. The consumer price index rose 5.2% from a year earlier, after climbing 4.6% in February, the Department of Statistics said in a statement yesterday. That exceeded the predictions of 17 of 18 economists in a Bloomberg News survey, where the median estimate was for a 4.7% increase. The core inflation rate was 2.9% in March. (Bloomberg)

Australia: Producer prices unexpectedly fell last quarter
Prices paid by Australian producers unexpectedly fell last quarter for the first time in more than two years, weakening the local currency and raising bets the central bank will cut interest rates next week. The producer price index dropped 0.3% in the January-to-March period from the prior quarter, when it gained 0.3%, the Bureau of Statistics said in Sydney yesterday. The median estimate of 17 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a 0.4% increase, with only one predicting a decline. The index rose 1.4% in the first quarter from a year earlier, less than the median forecast of 2.2%. (Bloomberg)

EU: Euro-Region debt rises to highest in single currency history
The debt of the euro region rose last year to the highest since the start of the single currency as governments increased borrowing to plug budget deficits and fund bailouts of fellow nations crippled by the fiscal crisis. The debt of the 17 euro nations climbed to 87.2% of gross domestic product in 2011 from 85.3% the previous year, official European Union figures showed yesterday. That’s the highest since the euro was introduced in 1999. Greece topped the list with debt at 165.3% of GDP, while Estonia had the least at 6% of GDP. (Bloomberg)

EU: ECB rejects Geithner-IMF push for further crisis measures
European Central Bank officials led by President Mario Draghi resisted calls from the International Monetary Fund and US Treasury to do more to stem the debt crisis roiling the euro-area economy. As talks of global finance chiefs ended yesterday in Washington, euro-area central bankers from Draghi to Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann argued they have done enough by cutting interest rates and issuing more long-term bank loans. Officials in Europe and around the world are bickering about additional crisis-calming steps, as turmoil returns to the continent’s bond market amid concern that Spain may need a bailout. (Bloomberg)

EU: Spanish GDP contracts for second quarter, Bank of Spain says
Spain’s economy contracted in the first quarter, entering its second recession since 2009 that threatens the nation’s deficit goals. The economy contracted 0.4% in the first quarter, the Bank of Spain said, after shrinking 0.3% in the previous three months. Gross domestic product fell 0.5% from a year ago, the Bank of Spain said, citing estimates based on data that are still incomplete. The National Statistics Institute publishes its first estimate on 30 April. (Bloomberg)

EU: Italian consumer confidence falls to record low on recession
Italian consumer confidence plunged to the lowest in more than 15 years in April as Prime Minister Mario Monti’s austerity drive deepens the recession in Europe’s fourth-biggest economy. The confidence index declined to 89, the lowest since the series began in 1996, from a revised 96.3 in March, national statistics office Istat said in Rome yesterday. Economists forecast a reading of 96.2, according to the median of 12 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. (Bloomberg)

US stocks join global selloff amid Europe’s political concern
US stocks joined a global selloff as political uncertainty in France and the Netherlands intensified concern about Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.8% to 1,366.94, near its highest level of the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 102.09 points, or 0.8%, to 12,927.17. The Russell 2000 Index retreated 1.5% to 791.85. About 6.6bn shares changed hands on US exchanges, or 2.5% below the three-month average. (Bloomberg)

20120424 1038 Malaysia Corporate Related News.

MMC Gamuda seals RM360m deal for MRT project
MMC Gamuda KVMRT SB, a JV between MMC Corp and Gamuda, sealed a RM360m sales and purchase agreement for six tunnel boring machines (TBMs). The six custom-designed TBMs will be used to tunnel through karstic limestone forming half of the proposed 9.5km mass rapid transit (MRT) stretch from Semantan North Portal to Maluri South Portal. (Financial Daily)

TM’s HyppTV launches France 24
Telekom Malaysia’s (TM) pay TV service, HyppTV, is optimistic of attracting subscribers from the French community here with the launch of France 24, the first and only premium French International news channel in Malaysia. HyppTV is an Internet Protocol TV service and France 24 will be aired via TM’s high-speed broadband service, UniFi. (Financial Daily)

KFCH, QSR to ink share sale deals with MESB
KFC Holdings (KFCH) and QSR Brands have agreed to sign definitive agreements of a share sale with Massive Equity SB (MESB). The companies told Bursa Malaysia separately yesterday that the date of execution would be no later than 21 May or another mutually agreeable date. (StarBiz)

Tanjung offers to sell marine op to Ekuinas
Tanjung Offshore has proposed to sell its marine business to major shareholder E-Cap (Internal) One SB for RM220m under a demerger exercise. Tanjung Offshore said it had entered into a conditional agreement for the purchase and sale of shares with Kota Bayu Ekuiti SB (KBE), a wholly-owned by E-Cap, which in turn a major shareholder of Tanjung Offshore, for disposal by Tanjung of 10m ordinary shares of RM1 each in Tanjung Kapal Services SB (TKS), representing the entire equity interest in TKS, to KBE for a cash consideration of RM220m. (StarBiz)

DRB-Hicom denies selling Lotus Group
DRB-Hicom has come out in the open to deny that it has decided to sell newly-acquired Lotus Group International – post takeover of Proton Holdings. The former is currently undertaking an operations audit on Lotus Group as part of its governance exercise. “Contrary to reports that Lotus Group would be put under administration, DRB-Hicom is still supporting Lotus Group, both financially and management wise,” declared the company in a press release. (Malaysian Reserve)


E&O has agreed to acquire its first major overseas property, a prime freehold office-cum-retail building in central London, for a total cash consideration of £20.25m or approximately RM100.9m. The property, Princes House, commands a prime position on the west side of Kiingsway in the heart of London's Midtown. "A prominent neo-classical building, the property will continue to be let for office use but offers E&O the opportunity in the future to harness its redevelopment potential, subject to planning permission," said E&O MD Datuk Terry Tham. "This may include E&O branded serviced suites or residential apartments which would find a ready rental and sale market, given its proximity to the University of London, London School of Economics as well as the Inns of Court where student accommodation and legal offices are always in demand," he added. Constructed in the early 1920s, the Princes House is a mixed-use building comprising about 46,087 sq ft of office and retail space. (Starbiz)

Indian police are in Kuala Lumpur in a bid to gain access to information related to Maxis Berhad’s controversial acquisition of Indian telco Aircel that allegedly involved RM351m in kickbacks to former Indian Telecommunications Minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother. The Press Trust of India reported that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) flew in to find out about Maxis’s financial transactions and to record “the statement of a non-executive director of the company” which is owned by T. Ananda Krishnan. “A CBI team was meeting Malaysian authorities, including its legal department, for early action on its plea,” India’s largest news agency reported, referring to a request by India’s courts earlier this month for financial documents related to the Maxis-Aircel deal. The CBI had filed the graft case on October 10 last year against Ananda, his right-hand man Ralph Marshall, who is a non-executive director at Maxis, and the Marans. (The Malaysian Insider)

Bumiputera equity participation in the corporate sector rose to 23.09% in 2010, from 21.9% in 2008. PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak said based on the government's assessment, the official 30% Bumiputera equity target could be achieved by 2020. According to the Economic Planning Unit of the PM's Department, Bumiputera equity ownership is the highest in the financial, insurance and takaful sector. In terms of value, Bumiputera equity in the sectors rose 22.5% to RM65.37bn in 2010, from RM53.35bn a year ago. (NST)

Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) will talk to the Securities Commission (SC) in the next few days on how to include Koperasi Permodalan Felda (KPF) as one of the shareholders in the upcoming listing of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGVH). Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohamed Isa Abdul Samad said Felda’s management would meet with the SC to discuss the next plan of action now that KPF members had agreed to take part in FGVH’s initial public offering. “We plan to meet SC officials in the next two to three days. I don’t want to jump the gun but we will call a press conference soon,” said Isa. (BT)

The construction of Vale International iron ore distribution hub in Teluk Rubiah has already reached 15% towards its completion, said Vale Malaysia Portfolio Director Marcelo Figuiredo. He said WCT Construction Sdn Bhd, the local contractor handling earthworks, has surpassed its target at 52% completion and pile driving for the material handling quay was successfully completed December last year. (Bernama)

IJM Land Bhd has agreed to sell a 285.88ha land in Rembau, Negri Sembilan, to Canal City Construction Sdn Bhd (CCC) for RM30.3m cash. The cash proceeds from the sale will be used for working capital of the group. The disposal is expected to be completed by 3Q12. (BT)

Nestle (Malaysia) Bhd will make an independent evaluation of the impact of the acquisition of Pfizer Nutrition by its holding company Nestle SA of Switzerland. “The company will be informed in due course by NestlĂ© SA, of the impact of such acquisition on its business, if any,” Nestle said in a statement to Bursa Malaysia. Swiss food group Nestle is buying US drugmaker Pfizer's infant nutrition business for US$11.85bn (RM36.2bn), beating out French rival Danone in the battle for dominance of baby food in fast-growing emerging markets.(Reuters/BT)

Themed Attractions & Resorts Sdn Bhd (TAR), a unit of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, will divest some or all of its investments in theme parks in the Klang Valley and Johor, says its chief. TAR, which was given an initial RM2.3bn until 2015 to develop parks and attractions, has a majority stake in KidZania and will also wholly-own five other soon-to-open attractions in Johor. TAR CEO Tunku Ahmad Burhanuddin said Khazanah would eventually dispose of its stakes in the projects.“Khazanah took on those projects as they required big investments. But they have to be run commercially in order to be profitable, as we have to look at return on our investments. (BT)

Proton Holdings Bhd has extended the closing date and time for the acceptance of the unconditional takeover offer by DRB-Hicom to acquire all the remaining shares in Proton at RM5.50/share in cash to May 9 instead of April 25. (BT)

KLIA2 is on track to be opened by April next year, with 50% of the development completed to date, said Malaysia Airports (MAHB) chairman, Tan Sri Aris Othman. Meanwhile, giving an update on the Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Medina, Saudi Arabia, Aris said MAHB is still in the bidding stage to secure the contract to expand the airport. MAHB has been shortlisted for the Medina airport and for the facilities services management at the Doha International Airport. Tan Sri Aris Othman wants the airport operator’s MD Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad to continue serving the company in his current position although the decision of whether to extend the latter’s contract lies with the government. Bashir’s contract with MAHB will end in June. The 63-year-old was first appointed as MAHB managing director in June 2003. (BT, The Sun)

Landfill restoration and waste management specialist Cypark Resources Bhd sees opportunities in Myanmar and hopes to enter the country next year, said group CEO Daud Ahmad. The company intends to be among the "first movers" into Myanmar, hoping to provide its expertise in waste management and renewable energy there as the country starts developing. Daud expected Myanmar to begin developing its power infrastructure soon, and said there would be opportunities in sub-segments such as generating power through green and sustainable resources. (Financial Daily)

Berjaya Land Bhd (BLand) is in discussions with Parkson Holdings Bhd (PHB) to open a department store at its RM7.5bn Great Mall of China (GMOC) in East Beijing, China. "Parkson is expanding in China and we are trying to talk them into taking up space at GMOC but nothing is firm yet," BLand CEO Datuk Francis Ng Sooi Lin, told BT. Parkson, a Lion group company, has more than 50 outlets in China and currently derives some 70% of sales from the Chinese market. (BT)

Japanese steel companies, frustrated by trade barriers designed to protect the country’s domestic steel sector, want the government to simplify the import rules that are choking off the supply of high-grade iron and steel to key sectors of the economy. The Japanese Chamber of Trade and Industry Malaysia (Jactim), also warned the government that foreign manufacturing companies might be forced to relocate their operations to other regional investment destinations if the problems over import duties are not resolved quickly. Malaysia imposes a 20% import duty on high-grade iron and steel products to protect local players such as Megasteel. But there is an import duty exemption scheme to ensure that industries that require high-end iron and steel products not produced locally can obtain raw materials at competitive prices. Japanese steel companies argue that the special scheme is flawed because exemptions are only given after importers obtain a non-objection letter from local steel mills which is difficult to obtain. (Financial Daily)

Fajarbaru Builder Group Bhd is expected to bag a RM299m job for the construction of Sungai Baru light rail transit station (LRT) under the LRT extension project by Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, according to source. It is learnt that the letter of award was signed last Friday. The Sungai Baru station is one of the last four work packages for the LRT extension project. It was reported that the remaining three contracts will be awarded in a month or two. Fajarbaru is also one of the pre-qualified companies for the multi-billion elevated civil station and depot work packages for My Rapid Transit project. (StarBiz)

London Biscuits Bhd has fixed the issue price for the first tranche of the private placement, comprising of 4.5m shares, at RM1 each. It said on Monday, this was a premium of 35.14% above the five-day volume-weighted average market price of the ordinary shares of RM1 each, up to and including April 20 of 74 sen per share.(Starbiz)

Tune Ins Holdings will pay RM156.9m to acquire the majority 79.84% stake in Maika Holdings Bhd’s general insurance business – Oriental Capital Assurance. The RM1.965 per share price values the whole Oriental at about RM196.5m. Tune Ins, a wholly-owned unit of Tune Money, is partly owned by Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin Meranun. Upon acquiring the 79.84% stake, Tune Ins will make a mandatory genereal offer of RM1.965 per share to minority shareholders. (Malaysian Reserve)

20120424 1035 Global Market Related News.

Asian Stocks Fall Fourth Day on Europe Political Concern (Source: Bloomberg)
Asian stocks dropped, with the regional benchmark index heading for its fourth day of decline, as political uncertainty in France and the Netherlands deepened concern Europe will struggle to contain its debt crisis. Canon Inc. (7751), a camera maker that depends on Europe for almost a third of its sales, slid 1.5 percent in Tokyo. Nippon Steel Corp. slipped 1 percent after its credit rating was cut by Moody’s Investors Service. Paladin Energy Ltd. sank 6.7 percent after the Australian uranium miner announced plans to sell at least $225 million of convertible notes. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 0.3 percent to 123.18 as of 10:15 a.m. in Tokyo, with more than two stocks falling for each that rose. The resignation of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s defeat in the first round of his re-election bid sparked concern governments in Europe will struggle to cut budgets.
“It’s a time of a greatly unsettled atmosphere in Europe,” Quintin Price, the global investment chief for fundamental equities at BlackRock Inc. said in a Bloomberg Television interview from Hong Kong. Blackrock has about $3.68 trillion in assets. “You see this resistance to austerity. Europe continues to be central.”

Japan, Australian Stock Futures Fall on Europe Concern (Source: Bloomberg)
Japanese stocks dropped for a fourth day after data showed Europe’s industries shrank and the Dutch prime minister resigned over austerity measures, signaling the severity of the debt crisis. Canon Inc., a camera maker that depends on Europe for almost a third of its sales, slid 1.1 percent. Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. paced declines among companies based in the Osaka after a report the region may face Japan’s worst power shortages this summer. Mitsubishi Corp. (8058), the nation’s biggest commodities trader by revenue, fell 1.3 percent after metals prices dropped. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s resignation is “creating an aura of uncertainty and that’s the last thing that investors need,” said Angus Gluskie, managing director at White Funds Management in Sydney who manages more than $350 million. “This is destabilizing for the markets as a whole. Europe is still really the focus.”
The Nikkei 225 (NKY) fell 0.6 percent to 9,481.83 as of 9:52 a.m. in Tokyo, with volume a third lower than the 30-day average. The broader Topix Index lost 0.6 percent to 804.47, with more than three times as many shares declining as advancing.

European Stocks Drop as Manufacturing Shrinks; ING Falls (Source: Bloomberg)
European stocks fell to a three- month low as manufacturing contracted in the euro area and China and as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte offered to resign after struggling to clinch an austerity deal. Renault SA (RNO) and ArcelorMittal (MT) led a selloff in automakers and commodity companies. ING Groep NV (INGA) and Aegon NV (AGN) tumbled more than 6 percent amid concern the Netherlands may lose its AAA rating. Royal Philips Electronics NV rallied 3.3 percent after earnings beat analysts’ estimates. The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 2.3 percent to 251.75 in London, the lowest since Jan. 16. The gauge last week snapped a four-week losing streak after the International Monetary Fund raised its global growth forecast and U.S. company earnings beat estimates.
“There is every reason for this market to correct today,” said Patrick Moonen, a senior strategist at ING Investment Management in The Hague, which manages $163 billion. “The political environment in Europe has not improved over the weekend and we’ve had some weaker-than-expected macro data that is clearly disappointing. The overall market sentiment has turned bearish, but I am not at all concerned that this is more than a correction.”

U.S. Stocks Join Global Slump on Europe’s Political Woes (Source: Bloomberg)
U.S. stocks joined a global selloff as political uncertainty in France and the Netherlands intensified concern about Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. Bank of America Corp. fell 2.2 percent, following a drop in European lenders, as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte offered to quit after lawmakers split over austerity and French President Nicolas Sarkozy lost the first round of his re-election bid. Monsanto (MON) Co. and U.S. Steel Corp. (X) slid at least 1.8 percent as European and Chinese manufacturing shrank. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) retreated 4.7 percent amid a bribery probe in Mexico. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.8 percent to 1,366.94 at 4 p.m. New York time, near its highest level of the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 102.09 points, or 0.8 percent, to 12,927.17. The Russell 2000 Index retreated 1.5 percent to 791.85. About 6.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, or 2.5 percent below the three-month average.
“Markets are realizing that messy European national politics could aggravate already complex economic and financial conditions,” Mohamed El-Erian, the chief executive officer of Pacific Investment Management Co., said in an e-mail today. His company is manager of the world’s largest bond fund.

Stocks, Euro Drop Amid European Political Concern (Source: Bloomberg)
Stocks plunged worldwide and the euro weakened as Europe’s backlash against budget cuts gained momentum, while commodities retreated as manufacturing shrank. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.8 percent at 4 p.m. New York time, trimming its drop from 1.4 percent. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index sank 2.3 percent to a three-month low as gauges for eight nations, including Sweden, Germany, France and the Netherlands decreased 2.5 percent or more. The euro lost 0.5 percent versus the dollar and 1 percent against the yen. The cost of insuring against a European sovereign default climbed to the highest level in four weeks. The S&P GSCI Index of 24 raw materials slumped 0.3 percent. Treasuries rose a fourth day.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte offered his cabinet’s resignation amid a revolt against spending cuts. French President Nicolas Sarkozy lost the first round of his re- election bid as the anti-euro National Front won a record share of the vote. Euro-area services and manufacturing contracted more than estimated, while data indicated China’s production will shrink for a sixth month. “There’s enough out there that can justify taking the market down,” Mark Bronzo, who helps manage about $125 billion at Guggenheim Investments in Irvington, New York, said in a telephone interview. “There’s more work to be done in Europe, yet there’s political and social pressure not to do more. The economic news was disappointing. In addition, we’re digesting a big advance in the market.”

Emerging Stocks Close At Lowest Level Since January (Source: Bloomberg)
Emerging-market stocks fell to the lowest level in almost three months as shrinking Chinese and European manufacturing output boosted concern a global slowdown will curb demand for exports. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index (MXEF) slid 1.3 percent to 1,007.96 in New York with energy and consumer staple companies leading declines. The Bovespa index dropped 1.5 percent as JBS SA, the world’s largest beef producer, fell 6.3 percent, its sharpest drop in a month. Wal-Mart de Mexico SAB fell 12 percent, the most since 1998, as the company investigates possible bribery payments to Mexican officials. Equity gauges across Europe slumped, with Poland’s WIG20 tumbling the most in five months.
HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics reported a preliminary reading of 49.1 for their China purchasing managers’ index, compared with a final 48.3 in March, a sixth consecutive month below 50. A euro-area composite index based on a survey of purchasing managers in services and manufacturing fell to 47.4, a five-month low, from 49.1 in March, London-based Markit Economics said in an initial estimate today. Commodities fell for the first time in three days as cocoa, silver and lead declined. “Commodity price declines are a reflection of global growth weakness,” Simon Quijano-Evans, emerging markets head of research at ING Bank, said in by phone from London. Those declines are “going to hit commodity exports of emerging markets the hardest,” he said.

Apple Rally Stalls on Concern Mobile Growth to Slow (Source: Bloomberg)
The biggest rally in Apple Inc. (AAPL) shares since 2004 lost steam as some investors speculated that the maker of the iPhone may not be able to keep growing at the pace that made it the world’s most valuable company. Apple has dropped 10 percent since reaching a record on April 9, the biggest 10-day slide since August. Fueling the descent were reports indicating a possible shortage in key components for mobile devices and a decline in sales of the iPhone at Verizon Wireless, the top U.S. mobile phone company. Some traders also took cues from trends showing there’s little precedent for surges like Apple’s. “They are so huge that you can’t get these huge percentage gains forever because at some point sales growth has to slow down,” said Giri Cherukuri, a portfolio manager at Lisle, Illinois-based Oakbrook Investments LLC, which manages $3 billion, including Apple shares. “The question is where are we on that curve -- near the bottom or are we near the top?”
Investors will find out whether the concerns are warranted from a fiscal second-quarter report tomorrow that’s predicted to show profit rose 55 percent while sales increased 48 percent from a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Apple is benefiting from the release of the iPhone 4S in China and 21 other countries, and the debut of a new iPad. If results fall short, the stock decline may resume.

FOREX-Euro retreats as IMF provides little boost
TOKYO, April 23 (Reuters) - The euro retreated from two-week highs against the dollar on Monday, pausing after its best weekly performance since February and drawing limited support from the weekend decision to double the International Monetary Fund's war chest.
"The increase in the IMF is just a safety net. That alone is not enough to boost risk assets," said Koji Fukaya, chief currency strategist at Credit Suisse in Tokyo.

Euro Holds Drop Versus Dollar, Yen Amid Political Turmoil (Source: Bloomberg)
The euro remained lower after its biggest one-day loss in a week amid concern presidential elections in France and political uncertainty in the Netherlands will hinder efforts to resolve Europe’s debt crisis. The 17-nation currency maintained its first decline versus the yen in five days before Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is set to speak in parliament today, less than 24 hours after tendering his Cabinet’s resignation. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist challenger Francois Hollande face off in a second ballot May 6. The Australian dollar fell this week against most of its peers before a consumer-price report today that may show the Reserve Bank has scope to cut borrowing costs. “The market’s got nervous because of political uncertainty in Europe,” said Morio Okayasu, chief analyst in Tokyo at FOREX.com Japan Co., a unit of the online currency trading firm Gain Capital Holdings Inc. (GCAP) in Bedminster, New Jersey. “That’s negative for the euro.”
The euro was little changed at $1.3151 at 9:55 a.m. in Tokyo after falling 0.5 percent yesterday, the most since April 13. The shared currency bought 106.72 yen, after declining 0.9 percent to 106.81 yesterday. The yen traded at 81.14 per dollar from 81.18. The so-called Aussie fetched $1.0321 from $1.0319 after sliding to as low as $1.0272 yesterday, the weakest level since April 11.

Korean Won Climbs, Bonds Fall on IMF Forecast, Spain (Source: Bloomberg)
South Korea’s won fell to its lowest level in almost two weeks as political shifts in Europe fanned concern the region’s debt crisis will worsen. Government bonds advanced. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte offered to resign yesterday after struggling to clinch an austerity deal. French President Nicolas Sarkozy lost the first round of his re-election bid as the anti-euro National Front won a record share of the vote. Foreign investors sold $761 million more Korean shares than they bought this month through yesterday, exchange data show. “There is a cycle as to how sensitive investors are to Europe’s problems, and it seems the market is more reactive of late,” said Ryu Kyungwon, a Seoul-based currency trader for the Bank of New York Mellon. “With overseas investors net sellers of Korean stocks, we see more demand for dollars as they repatriate funds.”
The won declined 0.1 percent to 1,140.95 per dollar as of 9:31 a.m. in Seoul, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The currency touched 1,143.00 earlier, the weakest since April 12. Exporters may sell dollars as the end of the month nears and investors will be on alert for possible intervention to support the won at levels weaker than 1,140 per dollar,Hong Seok Chan, a Seoul-based currency analyst at Daeshin Economy Research Institute wrote in today’s report.

Treasuries Hold Advance on European Crisis, U.S. Slowdown (Source: Bloomberg)
Treasuries held a four-day gain as Europe’s fiscal crisis and forecasts for slowing economic growth spurred demand for the relative safety of U.S. debt. Benchmark 10-year yields were about a quarter percentage point from the record low as the Federal Reserve begins a two- day meeting today, with Chairman Ben S. Bernanke scheduled to hold a press conference tomorrow. Bernanke said March 26 that continued accommodative monetary policy is needed to bring down unemployment. The U.S. plans to sell $35 billion of two-year notes today, the same amount of five-year debt tomorrow and $29 billion of seven-year securities on April 26. “I think yields are headed lower,” said Ali Jalai, who trades Treasuries in Singapore at Scotiabank, a unit of Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS), one of the 21 primary dealers that underwrite the U.S. debt. “The economy is just chugging along. It’s not accelerating. Problems in Europe are going to be around for a long time.”
Benchmark 10-year yields were unchanged at 1.94 percent at 10:19 a.m. in Tokyo, according to Bloomberg Bond Trader prices. The 2 percent security due in February 2022 changed hands at 100 18/32. The record low rate was 1.67 percent set Sept. 23.

Bullish, Bearish Forecasters Agree on Strong Dollar (Source: Bloomberg)
There’s at least one thing that bulls and bears on the U.S. economy agree on: the dollar, the most undervalued major currency in the world, is due to rise as Europe’s sovereign debt crisis threatens the global recovery. Strategists who as recently as November were predicting the dollar would depreciate against currencies of the Group of 10 nations, now say it will climb by year-end. After weakening against all but the Mexican peso among its 16 most actively traded peers over the past decade, it has gained against 13 of them since February. Bulls say the dollar will benefit from increased U.S. hiring and an economy that’s projected to grow 2.3 percent this year, almost double the 1.26 percent for the Group of 10, according to Bloomberg surveys of economists. The currency will also gain if global and U.S. growth slows as Europe’s debt crisis worsens, boosting demand for dollar assets such as Treasuries as traditional havens from market turmoil diminish.
“We’ve become more bullish on the dollar because the economic prospects in the U.S. are improving,” Ken Dickson, an investment director of currencies at Standard Life Investments in Edinburgh, which manages about $235 billion, said on April 18 by telephone. “There are additional reasons including problems in the periphery, and a weaker euro is required to help the transition to a better economic situation in Europe.”

Durable U.S. Recovery at Hand as Growth Shifts (Source: Bloomberg)
Almost three years after it began, the U.S. recovery may strengthen as autos and housing begin to reemerge as mainstays of growth. “The traditional engines that tend to give you a recovery are kicking in now,” Joseph Carson, director of global economic research at AllianceBernstein LP in New York, said in an interview. “We’re seeing confirmation of sustainability from all sides. That’s a real business cycle.” Over the past two quarters, measures normally associated with early stages of lasting rebounds, including hours worked, employment, consumer and business sentiment, household spending on durable goods and residential investment, have picked up in tandem, said Carson. Ian Shepherdson at High Frequency Economics Ltd. is betting the comeback from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression will be rooted in a thawing of lending, an area that usually lags behind.
Household spending led by durable goods like automobiles, as well as gains in homebuilding, may account for more than half of the first-quarter advance in gross domestic product, according to Carson. Those two areas contributed 1.7 percentage points to the 3 percent gain in gross domestic product at an annual rate in the fourth quarter and probably made a similar contribution in the past three months, he said.

China May Ease Lending-Rate Controls First, Zhou Says (Source: Bloomberg)
China may first relax controls on borrowing costs and widen the “range” for deposit rates as part of changes to financial-industry rules, central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan said in an interview with Caijing Magazine. The government is waiting for a consensus to emerge among officials and for a “suitable” time to act, as adjustments have been complicated by inflation and capital inflows, the People’s Bank of China governor said, according to a transcript of the interview on the magazine’s website today. The interview took place “recently,” Caijing said, without giving a date. Zhou’s comments highlight the central bank’s concerns that overhauling China’s interest-rate system when growth is slowing and inflationary pressure persists would create difficulties for banks to implement changes. The International Monetary Fund said in November China needs to move to a more market-based way of setting rates to help contain financial risks.
“There’s a question of finding the right time for reforms,” Zhou said. “Based on our current view, the global financial crisis has yet to calm down and the external environment still warrants observation. Domestically an economic downturn and inflation pressures co-exist.”

China’s Stock Futures Drop on Economic, European Debt Concerns (Source: Bloomberg)
China’s stock-index futures fell, signaling declines for the benchmark index, on concern the slowing Chinese economy and Europe’s debt crisis will reduce earnings and exports. Futures on the CSI 300 Index (SHSZ300) expiring in May, the most active contract, lost 0.3 percent to 2,610.40 as of 9:17 a.m. local time. Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. (600188), China’s fourth-biggest coal miner, may decline after net income fell 11 percent in the first three months of the year. China Vanke Co., the biggest property developer, may rise after profit rose 16 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) dropped 18.28 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,388.59 yesterday. About 12.3 billion shares changed hands in the Shanghai Composite yesterday, or 40 percent higher than the daily average this year. Thirty-day volatility in the gauge was at 18.8, near its highest since March 2.
The CSI 300 Index declined 0.8 percent to 2,606.04 yesterday. The Bloomberg China-US 55 Index (CH55BN), the measure of the most-traded U.S.-listed Chinese companies, retreated 2.3 percent in New York. The Shanghai index has climbed 8.6 percent this year amid speculation the government will take measures to boost the economy. Stocks in the Shanghai gauge are valued at 10.1 times estimated earnings, compared with a record low of 8.9 times on Jan. 6, according to weekly data compiled by Bloomberg.

Manufacturing Contraction Spurs Chalco Decline: China Overnight (Source: Bloomberg)
Aluminum Corp. of China led declines in Chinese commodity stocks traded in New York as data signaled manufacturing in the world’s second-largest economy may shrink for a sixth month in April. The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index (CH55BN) of the most-traded Chinese shares in the U.S. sank 2.3 percent to 100.98 yesterday in New York, the lowest close since April 10. Aluminum Corp. plunged the most in seven weeks on concern a drop in Chinese and European output will curb demand for commodities. Petroleum and Chemical Corp. fell to a four-month low, trading at a discount to its Hong Kong stock, while PetroChina Co. also fell.
China’s purchasing managers’ index shrank to a preliminary reading of 49.1 in April, compared with a final 48.3 in March, HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics said yesterday. A number below 50 points to a contraction. In the euro zone, China’s biggest trading partner, a composite index based on a survey of purchasing managers in services and manufacturing fell to a five-month low, Markit Economics said yesterday. “Any weakness in China feeds directly into the commodity complex that extends to Chinese commodity producers,” Michael Shaoul, chairman of Marketfield Asset Management in New York, which oversees more than $1.6 billion -- including bets that Chinese stocks will decline -- said by phone yesterday. “The market has started to become nervous about the general status of China’s economy.”

Mitsubishi UFJ to Add 50 Traders in Derivatives Push (Source: Bloomberg)
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. (8306) will hire 50 currency and interest-rate derivatives traders globally in the next three years to help more than double annual profit in the business to 500 billion yen ($6.1 billion). Lending unit Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. will also add 150 sales and research staff in Asia, Europe and the U.S., taking headcount for the derivatives business to 1,700 by March 2015, global markets head Hitoshi Suzuki said in an April 20 interview. The bank plans to meet the profit goal by March 2017. Japan’s biggest bank is betting that the market for over- the-counter currency and interest-rate derivatives, valued at $15.5 trillion as of last June, will help to spur earnings as the economy fails to grow enough to fuel lending and lessen its dependence on government bond trading. The hiring plans contrast with the global banking industry’s more than 130,000 job cuts announced last year.
“The key would be whether or not Mitsubishi UFJ will be able to spend decent money to hire talented traders, marketers and product developers worldwide,” Shinichiro Nakamura, a Tokyo-based banking analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., said. “This risk hedging-type of business may be the one that can help them gradually reduce their dependence on profit from the Japanese government bond trading.”

Singapore Inflation Accelerates More Than Estimated to 5.2% (Source: Bloomberg)
Singapore’s inflation accelerated more than economists estimated in March, justifying the central bank’s decision to tighten monetary policy this month. The consumer price index rose 5.2 percent from a year earlier, after climbing 4.6 percent in February, the Department of Statistics said in a statement today. That exceeded the predictions of 17 of 18 economists in a Bloomberg News survey, where the median estimate was for a 4.7 percent increase. The core inflation rate was 2.9 percent in March. The Monetary Authority of Singapore raised its 2012 inflation forecast this month as it diverged from most other Asian central banks that have left borrowing costs unchanged or eased monetary policy in recent weeks. The Singapore dollar is the region’s best performer this year as investors bet the island will tolerate a stronger currency to curb price gains that have been fuelled by more expensive home rentals and surging car permit costs.
“What’s been messing things up are the COE prices,” said Edward Teather, a Singapore-based economist at UBS AG, referring to the car permits known as certificates of entitlements. “If COE prices keep going up at their current pace, it’s going to make it difficult for the headline inflation numbers to fall.”

Singapore to License More Foreign Law Firms as Fees Fall (Source: Bloomberg)
Singapore, where the number of foreign lawyers has doubled in the last four years after opening its legal market to foreign firms, will award a second round of licenses by next year, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said. Firms can apply in the second half of 2012, with the process to be completed by early next year, he said in an interview yesterday. The first round of liberalization has done “better than we could have expected,” he said. International law firms have expanded in Asia, the world’s fastest growing region, boosting competition as more lawyers fight to advise companies amid slowing deal activity. Mergers and acquisitions involving Singapore-based companies fell by 53 percent to $41.5 billion in 2011 from 2007 levels, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Euro-Region Debt Rises to Highest in Currency’s History (Source: Bloomberg)
The debt of the euro region rose last year to the highest since the start of the single currency as governments increased borrowing to plug budget deficits and fund bailouts of fellow nations crippled by the fiscal crisis. The debt of the 17 euro nations climbed to 87.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2011 from 85.3 percent the previous year, official European Union figures showed today. That’s the highest since the euro was introduced in 1999. Greece topped the list with debt at 165.3 percent of GDP, while Estonia had the least at 6 percent of GDP. Euro-region nations are on the hook for the bulk of the 386 billion euros ($508 billion) in bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal after those nations were forced to seek rescues when their borrowing costs become unsustainable. Concern that Spain and Italy may follow has led their bonds to decline for six weeks, pushing yields toward the 7 percent level that triggered the other aid programs.
“The different debt trajectories of the euro-area countries crystallize the process of great divergence between the periphery and the core of the euro area and even more markedly between Germany and the rest of the region,” Silvio Peruzzo, an economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London, said by phone.

Weidmann Says Bundesbank Is Preserving Euro Stability (Source: Bloomberg)
Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said the German central bank’s actions are aimed at maintaining the stable foundation of the euro and preventing an erosion of the single currency’s acceptance. “What we are doing is preserving the stability foundation of the single currency,” Weidmann said today in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop” with Betty Liu. “If the stability foundation of the euro is eroded, then we will also see the acceptance of the single currency eroded.” The Bundesbank has faced criticism, including from billionaire George Soros, for speaking out against some European Central Bank crisis-fighting measures such as government bond purchases. Weidmann said Soros’s charge that the Bundesbank is preparing for the end of the euro is “ridiculous.” “We shouldn’t get so excited about bond yields rising for a limited period of time,” Weidmann said. “They also constitute an incentive to reform, to embark on consolidation.”

Weidmann Says ECB Firepower Is Limited, Governments Must Act (Source: Bloomberg)
European Central Bank council member Jens Weidmann said calls for the central bank to do more to fight the sovereign debt crisis overestimate its capacity. “Monetary policy is not a panacea and central bank firepower is not unlimited, especially not in a monetary union,” Weidmann said in a speech in New York today. “We can only win back confidence if we bring down excessive deficits and boost competitiveness. And it is precisely because these things are unpopular that makes it so tempting for politicians to rely instead on monetary accommodation.” ECB policy makers have brushed off demands from the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. for more action to stem the debt crisis, as markets push Spain’s borrowing costs toward levels that prompted Greece, Ireland and Portugal to seek international bailouts. The Frankfurt-based ECB has already cut interest rates to a record low and pumped more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) into the euro area’s banking system in a bid to avert a credit crunch.
Spain’s 10-year bond yields rose to almost 6 percent today as the government struggles to convince investors it can shore up banks without overburdening public finances. Weidmann said delays in implementing announced deficit cuts and reforms risk damaging “confidence in policy makers’ ability to get to the root of the crisis.”

Draghi’s ECB Rejects Geithner-IMF Push for Measures (Source: Bloomberg)
European Central Bank officials led by President Mario Draghi resisted calls from the International Monetary Fund and U.S. Treasury to do more to stem the debt crisis roiling the euro-area economy. As talks of global finance chiefs ended yesterday in Washington, euro-area central bankers from Draghi to Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann argued they have done enough by cutting interest rates and issuing more long-term bank loans. “None of the advice that the IMF is offering has been discussed by the Governing Council, in recent times at least,” Draghi said on April 20 while attending IMF meetings in Washington. Weidmann said in an interview that “the problems in Europe can’t be solved by monetary policy measures.”
Officials in Europe and around the world are bickering about additional crisis-calming steps, as turmoil returns to the continent’s bond market amid concern that Spain may need a bailout. While Draghi says Spain and Italy need to agree further action, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government wants the ECB to reactivate its bond-buying program.

Italy Consumer Confidence Plunges to Record Low in April (Source: Bloomberg)
Italian consumer confidence plunged to the lowest in more than 15 years in April as Prime Minister Mario Monti’s austerity drive deepens the recession in Europe’s fourth-biggest economy. The confidence index declined to 89, the lowest since the series began in 1996, from a revised 96.3 in March, national statistics office Istat said in Rome today. Economists forecast a reading of 96.2, according to the median of 12 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. “The drop is due to a technical correction after the rise seen in the previous months and to the fact that consumers are starting to become more aware of the negative effects of the austerity measures in the short term”, Annalisa Piazza, a strategist at Newedge Group in London, said by phone. “None of the sub-indexes give encouraging signals,” she added.
Monti is implementing 20 billion euros ($26.5 billion) of spending cuts and tax hikes to fight the debt crisis. The measures, which will also lower pensions, have brought record gasoline prices and helped push the economy into its fourth recession since 2001. Italy will shrink 1.2 percent this year and joblessness at an 11-year high of 9.3 percent won’t start falling until 2013, the government forecast last week.

European Services, Manufacturing Shrink for Third Month: Economy (Source: Bloomberg)
Euro-area services and manufacturing output declined for a third month in April as the economy struggled to rebound from a fourth-quarter contraction. A euro-area composite index based on a survey of purchasing managers in both industries fell to 47.4, a five-month low, from 49.1 in March, London-based Markit Economics said in an initial estimate today. Economists had forecast an increase to 49.3, according to the median of 17 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. Budget cuts by governments and surging unemployment are curbing the pace of Europe’s economic recovery as officials across the region battle the sovereign-debt crisis. Manufacturers from Europe to China have been buffeted as the fiscal squeeze has crimped demand.
“Not only does it look highly likely that the euro zone suffered further economic contraction in the first quarter of 2012 after gross domestic product fell 0.3 percent quarter-on- quarter in the fourth quarter of 2011, but the April purchasing managers’ surveys suggest that a third quarter of GDP contraction is firmly on the cards for the second quarter of 2012,” said Howard Archer, an economist at IHS Global Insight in London.

Aussie’s Rise, Rates Won’t Derail Growth, Deloitte Says (Source: Bloomberg)
Australia’s “deadly duo” of sustained strength in the currency and the highest interest rates among major developed economies won’t derail the nation’s mining fueled economic growth, Deloitte Access Economics said. “The two-speed split in Australia’s economy, which was already large, is getting larger still,” Chris Richardson, a partner at Deloitte Access Economics, said in a statement. “Yet that doesn’t stop the overall outlook for growth still looking rather better than most people realize.” He said more optimism about Europe increases the likelihood the Reserve Bank of Australia will disappoint businesses and families on the scale of rate cuts. “Chances are it will nudge rates down a notch, given that the big banks have done some nudging of their own in the other direction, and as the inflation outlook looks less of a worry,” Richardson said.
RBA Governor Glenn Stevens signaled this month that the next rate reduction hinges on a report today on first-quarter inflation, as recent data indicates the economy is growing slower than the central bank predicted. Australia’s consumer price index is scheduled for release at 11:30 a.m. in Sydney. The RBA decided against lowering borrowing costs at its three meetings this year as the global recovery stabilizes and a mining boom sustains growth.

20120424 1034 Global Commodities Related News.

Hedge Funds Cut Bullish Wagers by the Most in Four Months (Source: Bloomberg)
Hedge funds cut their bets on higher commodity prices by the most in four months on mounting concern that Europe’s debt crisis will derail global growth and curb demand for raw materials. Money managers lowered net-long positions across 18 U.S. futures and options by 11 percent to 898,022 contracts in the week ended April 17, the most since Dec. 20, data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission show. Bets on rising sugar prices fell the most in more than three years, while the funds anticipate declines in cotton, wheat, coffee and natural gas. A surge in unemployment from Spain to Italy to Greece is undermining efforts to quell the region’s debt as borrowing costs rise. U.S. industrial production stalled for a second month in March, the Federal Reserve said April 17. Home prices in China fell last month in a record 37 of 70 cities tracked by the government, data showed April 18.
The “super cycle” that drove an almost fourfold gain in commodity prices since the end of 2001 may be ending, Citigroup Inc. said last week. “Concerns about a global slowdown are growing,” said Walter ‘Bucky’ Hellwig, who helps manage $17 billion of assets at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama. “The conditions just aren’t favorable for a commodity rally.”

GRAINS-U.S. soybeans, corn climb on Chinese demand
SYDNEY, April 23 (Reuters) - U.S. soybeans rose, extending gains after hitting a 7-1/2 month high in the previous session, underpinned by strong international demand and South American supply concerns.
"There is continued talk of downgrades in the South American soybean crop and the associated increase in international demand for soybeans," said Luke Mathews, commodities strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Indian 2012 wheat harvest seen at record 90.23 mln T
NEW DELHI, April 23 (Reuters) - India is expected to produce a record 90.23 million tonnes of wheat in 2012, Farm Minister Sharad Pawar said on Monday, releasing the ministry's latest output estimates.
On March 30, India's farm secretary said wheat output could touch a record 90 million tonnes in 2011/12 crop year on favourable weather conditions.

India likely to have normal monsoon in 2012-farm secretary
NEW DELHI, April 23 (Reuters) - India is likely to have normal monsoon in 2012 and the government will give a detailed region-wise forecast on Thursday, Farm Secretary P.K. Basu said on Monday.
The June-September monsoon, vital for agricultural output and economic growth, irrigates around 60 percent of farms in India, the world's second-biggest producer of rice, wheat, sugar and cotton. Agriculture accounts for about 15 percent of India's nearly $2 trillion economy, Asia's third biggest.

Algeria's Q1 grain imports down 12.7 pct y/y - data
ALGIERS, April 22 (Reuters) - Algeria's wheat imports in the first quarter of this year were down 12.7 percent on the same period in 2011, customs data showed, after an easing off in social unrest and a more promising domestic harvest softened demand.
The data, obtained by Reuters, showed Algeria imported 1.44 million tonnes of grain in Jan-March this year, against 1.65 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2011.

Chile corn output seen up, imports down-US attache
April 20 (Reuters) - Following are selected highlights from a report issued by a U.S. Department of Agriculture attache in Chile:
"A lower quality and smaller volume of wheat production is expected, which in turn means increased imports. But corn imports are expected to fall as production will increase more than previously estimated during the present marketing year."

Iran to import 1.7 mln T wheat in 2012/13 - FAO
MILAN, April 20 (Reuters) - Iran's wheat import needs are expected to drop 32 percent year on year to 1.7 million tonnes in the 2012/13 marketing year (April/March) thanks to higher carryover stocks from the current season, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation said.
Iran has built ample stocks of wheat, the dominant cereal in the country -- accounting for nearly 70 percent of total cereal production -- in the early months of 2012, the FAO said in a country brief on Iran on its website (www.fao.org).

Algeria's Q1 grain imports down 12.7 pct y/y (Source: CME)
Algeria's wheat imports in the first quarter of this year were down 12.7 percent on the same period in 2011, customs data showed, after an easing off in social unrest and a more promising domestic harvest softened demand.
The data, obtained by Reuters, showed Algeria imported 1.44 million tonnes of grain in Jan-March this year, against 1.65 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2011.

Corn Market Recap for 4/23/2012  (Source: CME)
July Corn finished up 9 1/2 at 612 1/2, equal to the high and 12 1/2 up from the low. December Corn closed up 8 3/4 at 545 1/2. This was 12 3/4 up from the low and equal to the high. May corn closed higher on the day but still down near the lower end of a 6 1/2 month trading range. The weekly COT report showed an active long liquidation selling trend from speculators and traders viewed the market as oversold. Continued talk that China is in the process of booking corn from the US and others plus a lack of new selling interest even with a bearish influence from outside markets and a real "risk off" mentality from fund traders today helped to support solid gains in old crop corn this morning. News that exporters reported a sale of 120,000 tonnes of US corn for 2012/13 delivery helped to provide some support. Ideas that the sell-off on Friday was overdone plus more and more talk that there is substance to the China rumors of restocking reserves with new crop US corn helped to support. Weekly export inspections came in at 29.38 million bushels which was well below trade expectations for the report and compares with 30.9 million bushels necessary each week to reach the USDA projection. While the temperature outlook is colder than desired this week, there is only a limited amount of rain expected across the heart of the Midwest and planting is expected to be active. In addition, traders see warmer weather for next week. Traders see weekly updates for this afternoon showing that near 31% of the crop is planted as compared with 8% last year and 14% as the 20-year average. July Rice finished up 0.17 at 15.93, equal to the high and 0.28 up from the low.

Corn Gains on Speculation China to Buy U.S. Grain; Wheat Rises (Source: Bloomberg)
Corn rose on speculation that China, the world’s largest pork consumer, will buy more U.S. grain to meet expanding demand for feed from hog producers. Wheat also advanced. U.S. exporters sold 120,000 metric tons of corn to unknown destinations for delivery after Sept. 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today. China’s state traders may buy U.S. supplies if corn falls to $5.50 a bushel, the China National Grain & Oils Information Center said today. Before today, prices for delivery in December, after the U.S. harvest, were down 8.4 percent this year to $5.3675 a bushel in Chicago. “The trade is looking for more sales to be announced to China,” Chad Henderson, a market analyst for Prime Agricultural Consultants Inc. in Brookfield, Wisconsin, said in a telephone interview. “Imported U.S. corn is competitive with supplies in China.”
Corn futures for July delivery rose 1.6 percent to close at $6.125 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, after falling 8.4 percent the previous two weeks, the biggest such decline this year. On April 18, the price touched $5.9175, the lowest for the most active contract since Dec. 19. Corn imports by China reached 472,026 tons in March, up from 2,340 tons a year earlier, according to an e-mailed statement from the customs agency today.

Market Recap: Corn Futures (Source: CME)
Corn futures got off to a choppy start, but bulls gained momentum as the day progressed, helping all contracts to settle at the top of their daily trading range with gains around 8 to 10 cents. USDA’s announcement of a 120,000-metric-ton corn sale to unknown destinations added to speculation China may be in the market for U.S. corn today.

Chile corn output seen up, imports down  (Source: CME)
Following are selected highlights from a report issued by a U.S. Department of Agriculture attache in Chile:
"A lower quality and smaller volume of wheat production is expected, which in turn means increased imports. But corn imports are expected to fall as production will increase more than previously estimated during the present marketing year."

Wheat Market Recap Report  (Source: CME)
July Wheat finished up 9 1/2 at 632 1/2, 2 1/2 off the high and 11 1/4 up from the low. December Wheat closed up 10 1/4 at 672. This was 12 1/4 up from the low and 2 off the high. May wheat closed moderately higher with talk of the oversold condition of the market and some concerns for cold weather threat later this week helping to support. The market opened near unchanged on the day but quickly experienced active short-covering to drive the market moderately higher on the day into the mid-session. There are some cold weather concerns for the eastern Corn Belt for late this week which might have sparked some of the buying as the soft red crop is advancing. Weekly export inspections came in at 24.39 million bushels which was above the range of estimates for the report and compares with 18.3 million bushels necessary each week to reach the USDA projection. Trend-following fund traders (non-commercial less index funds) held a near record net short position of 96,705 contracts as of April 17th and this helped to support as traders fear that it will not take much in the way of positive news to see more short-covering. Weekly crop conditions and weekly spring wheat planting progress will be released this afternoon. July Oats closed up 2 1/2 at 326 3/4. This was 4 3/4 up from the low and 1 3/4 off the high.

Indian 2012 wheat harvest seen at record 90.23 mln Tons  (Source: CME)
India is expected to produce a record 90.23 million tonnes of wheat in 2012, Farm Minister Sharad Pawar said on Monday, releasing the ministry's latest output estimates.
On March 30, India's farm secretary said wheat output could touch a record 90 million tonnes in 2011/12 crop year on favourable weather conditions.

Iran to import 1.7 mln T wheat in 2012/13  (Source: CME)
Iran's wheat import needs are expected to drop 32 percent year on year to 1.7 million tonnes in the 2012/13 marketing year (April/March) thanks to higher carryover stocks from the current season, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation said.
Iran has built ample stocks of wheat, the dominant cereal in the country -- accounting for nearly 70 percent of total cereal production -- in the early months of 2012, the FAO said in a country brief on Iran on its website (www.fao.org).

Market Recap: Wheat Futures  (Source: CME)
Wheat futures closed 9 1/4 to 12 3/4 cents higher in Chicago, 9 1/4 to 10 cents higher in Kansas City and 1/2 cent lower to 2 1/4 cents higher in Minneapolis. Futures closed in the upper portion of today's range at all three exchanges. Wheat futures were supported by concerns the developing winter wheat crop may have been nipped in some areas by cold overnight temps.

SOFTS-ICE sugar firms, near 11-month low, coffee up
LONDON, April 23 (Reuters) - Raw sugar futures on ICE rose in early trading, bouncing off an 11-month low touched on Friday, while arabica coffee also firmed, consolidating above an 18-month low hit on April 16.  Raw sugar futures were higher, bouncing from last week's 11-month low driven by expectations of additional Indian exports and a big global supply surplus of the sweetener.

Philippine sugar output to miss forecast-US attache
April 20 (Reuters) - Following are selected highlights from a report issued by a U.S. Department of Agriculture attache in the Philippines:
"Philippine sugar production in Crop Year 2011/12 (September/August) is projected to reach 2.24 million tonnes, down 7 percent from the initial government forecast of 2.4 million tonnes due to the prolonged wet season. Sugar production is projected to reach 2.4 million tonnes next crop year, as yields recover and sugarcane areas remain unchanged. Consumption of domestic sugar is expected to increase this year as domestic prices return to normal from record highs in December 2010.

China 2012/2013 sugar output seen up 6 pct-attache
April 20 (Reuters) - Following are selected highlights from a report issued by a U.S. Department of Agriculture attache in China:
"In MY 2012/13, total sugar production is forecast at 13.1 million tonnes (raw value), up 6 percent due to increased acreage for both sugar cane and sugar beets. In MY 2011/12, total sugar production is estimated at 12.3 million tonnes (raw value), up 10 percent because of higher acreage and strong yields. MY 2012/13 sugar imports are forecast to remain strong at 2.1 million tonnes (raw value)."

I.Coast happy with cocoa reforms, exporters wary
ABIDJAN, April 20 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's overhaul of its cocoa sector has gotten a thumbs up from foreign partners offering debt relief, but exporters now abiding by the new system say it has placed them in a minefield of financial risk.
The reform, they say, may leave them with uncovered costs and thousands of tonnes of low-grade cocoa unsuitable for export, while still failing to improve the incomes of hundreds of thousands of struggling farmers.

Thailand Targets Rubber Rally by Buying Up Output, Nattawut Says (Source: Bloomberg)
Thailand, the largest rubber exporter, reaffirmed a plan to drive local prices to 120 baht ($3.87) a kilogram by buying up supplies, while announcing its intention to push them as much as 50 percent higher than that. “We aim to see the price breach 120 baht a kilogram as soon as possible,” Nattawut Saikuar, deputy farm minister, said in an interview yesterday. “In the second half of the year, we will revise the target up to 150 baht and will introduce more measures for the price to climb to 180 baht next year.” Higher prices in Thailand, which accounts for about 33 percent of global supplies, may boost costs for companies such as Bridgestone Corp., Michelin & Cie. and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the top three tire makers. The 120 baht target was announced three months ago by the government, which also has a rice-buying program to try to lift prices of the grain.
Thailand has been in talks with China, the world’s largest consumer, to increase rubber purchases and to set up processing plants in Thailand, Nattawut said. “I’m seriously driving policy to strengthen the rubber industry,” he said. The auctioned price of unsmoked sheet in the Thai city of Songkhla has risen 21 percent this year to 106.39 baht a kilogram yesterday, according to data tracked by Bloomberg. It hasn’t traded above 120 baht since September. On the Tokyo Commodity Exchange, smoked sheet has risen 17 percent to close at 307 yen (117 baht, $3.79) per kilogram yesterday.

OIL-Brent steady under $119; supply worries, China data aid
SINGAPORE, April 23 (Reuters) - Brent held steady under $119 a barrel on Monday, as supply worries stemming from tightening Western sanctions on Iran and stabilising factory activity in China countered lingering concerns over the euro zone debt crisis.  
"On the supply side, Iran continues to be a risk which we can't ignore at all," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at Australia-based CMC Markets.

Oil Trades Near Two-Day Low on Sign U.S. Supplies Rising (Source: Bloomberg)
Oil traded near the lowest level in two days in New York before a report that may show crude stockpiles at an 11-month high in the U.S., the world’s biggest consumer of the commodity. Futures for June delivery were little changed after falling 0.7 percent yesterday. U.S. stockpiles gained 2.65 million barrels last week to 371.7 million, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey before a government report tomorrow. A release from U.S. strategic reserves is likely to take place after a European Union embargo on Iranian oil starts in July, Citigroup Inc. said. Prices have gained this year on concern that tension with Iran will disrupt supplies. “The market is very evenly divided between the bulls and the bears,” said Jonathan Barratt, chief executive of Barratt’s Bulletin, a commodity markets newsletter in Sydney. “There’s quite a few things that could move it but no one is prepared to lead and I think that’s keeping the prices relatively subdued.”
Crude for June delivery was at $103.15 a barrel, up 4 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11:12 a.m. Sydney time. The contract yesterday fell 77 cents to $103.11. Prices are 4.4 percent higher this year. Brent oil for June settlement was at $118.73 a barrel, up 2 cents, on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark contract’s front month premium to West Texas Intermediate was at $15.58, from $15.60 yesterday.

Oil traders could face new rules on purchases
GENEVA, April 23 (Reuters) - Oil traders buying from national oil firms could face new disclosure rules within a year as part of an effort led by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the group told Reuters on Monday.
The EITI, which has already implemented similar measures in oil producers Iraq and Norway, said that the rules would apply to all companies trading with EITI signatories.

Libya oil minister says output about 1.5 mln bpd
TRIPOLI, April 23 (Reuters) - Libyan oil production has climbed to about 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) and the North African country hopes to reach pre-conflict levels by mid-year, Oil Minister Abdulrahman Ben Yazza told a news conference on Monday.
"We have reached 85 percent (of pre-conflict levels)," Ben Yazza told the Oil & Gas Libya 2012 conference. "We hope to reach our target by the middle of this year."

China's March crude imports from Iran down 54 pct y/y
BEIJING, April 23 (Reuters) - China's March crude oil imports from Iran fell 54.1 percent from a year earlier to 253,302 barrels per day (bpd), customs data showed on Monday, due to pricing disputes over term contracts, with Beijing boosting shipments from elsewhere to fill the gap.
In the first quarter of this year, China's crude imports from Iran were 346,183 bpd, down 33.2 percent from a year earlier and less 41.8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011.

S.Korea March Iran crude imports fall 40 pct y/y
SEOUL, April 23 (Reuters) - South Korea's crude imports from Iran fell 40 percent in March from a year ago to 155,000 barrels per day as the country slashed imports in a bid to secure a waiver from sanctions being applied by the United States.
The move by Seoul to reduce reliance on Iranian crude is also in line with steps taken by other major Asian consumers such as Japan.  

Coal Seen Rebounding as China Sets Steel Output Record (Source: Bloomberg)
Coking coal prices are set to rebound as early as July from four straight quarterly declines as China and India seek raw material overseas to fire new steel production in the world’s fastest-growing major economies. Contract prices that fell to $206 a metric ton for the quarter ending June 30 may rebound to average $225 a ton this financial year, based on the mean estimate of 10 analysts, steelmakers and mining companies surveyed by Bloomberg. Contracts of coking coal, a key ingredient used to make steel, peaked at $330 in the June quarter last year. China, the largest steel producer, is leading demand growth forecast at almost 10 percent this year. It started about 10 new blast furnaces in the past six months, lifting output to a record in March, according to market researcher Custeel.com. India, the third-biggest steelmaker, is set to boost capacity a third to more than 100 million tons by March in a five-year $1 trillion plan to build roads, bridges and railway networks.
“Rising Indian imports will have a positive impact on coking coal,” said Natalie Robertson, an analyst at ANZ Banking Group Ltd. in Melbourne. “The near-term prices will more closely track development in China.”

Gold Declines as Stronger Dollar Curbs Investor Demand (Source: Bloomberg)
Gold declined to a two-week low as a stronger dollar curbed demand for the metal as an alternative investment. The dollar gained as much as 0.6 percent against a basket of currencies amid concern that the outcome of French presidential elections will disrupt efforts to stem the region’s debt crisis. Euro-area services and manufacturing fell more than estimated in April, while data showed China’s production will contract for a sixth month, according to a Markit Economics and HSBC Holdings Plc. “There is gloom and people want to move into cash,” Frank McGhee, the head dealer at Integrated Brokerage Services LLC in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “The production numbers out of China have depressed market sentiment.” Gold futures for June delivery fell 0.6 percent to settle at $1,632.60 an ounce at 1:42 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Earlier, prices slipped to $1,623.60, the lowest for a most- active contract since April 5. Prices have dropped 2.4 percent this month.

20120424 1034 Soy Oil & Palm Oil Related News.

Soybean Complex Market Recap (Source: CME)
July Soybeans finished down 8 1/2 at 1441, 16 1/4 off the high and 1 1/4 up from the low. November Soybeans closed down 14 1/2 at 1341 1/2. This was 1 1/4 up from the low and 22 3/4 off the high. July Soymeal closed down 6.5 at 403.4. This was 0.4 up from the low and 6.1 off the high. July Soybean Oil finished down 0.79 at 55.49, 0.87 off the high and 0.16 up from the low. May soybeans closed moderately lower on the session and gave back part of the strong gains from Friday. With a bearish set-up for commodities in general today (higher US dollar, sharply lower trade in the stock market and weaker action for metal and energy markets) and ideas that part of the late rally Friday was option expiration inspired, the market saw some early selling to push the market moderately lower on the day. Talk of good planting weather for the US for the next few weeks and a continued flow of new export sales news helped to keep the trade choppy and helped to pressure the new crop November soybeans. Exporters reported a sale of 165,000 tonnes of US soybeans to unknown destination for the 2011/12 time frame helped to provide some underlying support; especially for old crop contracts. Weekly export inspections came in at 12 million bushels which was sharply below trade expectations and compares with 11.3 million bushels necessary each week to reach the USDA projection. Higher trade in corn today had traders talking about liquidation of soybean/corn spreads as well

Market Recap: Soybean Futures  (Source: CME)
Soybean futures were weaker throughout the day session after seeing some light buying early in the overnight session. Futures posted a low-range close with losses of 8 1/2 to 14 1/2 cents. Meal and soyoil also posted moderate losses. Following Friday's surge, soybean futures were vulnerable to profit-taking, especially since the Brazilian government denied rumors it will limit exports due to a disappointing soybean crop.

Brazil gov't says not halting or slowing soy exports  (Source: CME)
Brazil's government has no plans to either halt or slow exports of soy, its single most valuable agricultural export, the agriculture ministry said on Friday after such rumors sent Chicago soybean futures to a 7-1/2 month high.
Private sector representatives also dismissed talk that shipments of the oilseed would be disrupted from the world's No. 2 producer.

Palm oil firmer on demand expectations  (Source: CME)
Malaysian palm oil inched higher on expectations that big food consumers will lift demand for the tropical oil in the wake of higher soyoil prices after droughts crimped South America's soy crop. "Palm oil has bottomed out since last week and is on the rise again," said a trader with a foreign commodities brokerage in Kuala Lumpur. "The market is getting a bit of support from the China PMI data that showed some recovery, but generally palm oil is getting its drive from South America."

U.S. soybeans, corn climb on Chinese demand  (Source: CME)
U.S. soybeans rose, extending gains after hitting a 7-1/2 month high in the previous session, underpinned by strong international demand and South American supply concerns. "There is continued talk of downgrades in the South American soybean crop and the associated increase in international demand for soybeans," said Luke Mathews, commodities strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

VEGOILS-Palm oil firmer on demand expectations
KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 (Reuters) - Malaysian palm oil inched higher on expectations that big food consumers will lift demand for the tropical oil in the wake of higher soyoil prices after droughts crimped South America's soy crop.
"Palm oil has bottomed out since last week and is on the rise again," said a trader with a foreign commodities brokerage in Kuala Lumpur. "The market is getting a bit of support from the China PMI data that showed some recovery, but generally palm oil is getting its drive from South America."

Brazil gov't says not halting or slowing soy exports
BRASILIA/SAO PAULO, April 20 (Reuters) - Brazil's government has no plans to either halt or slow exports of soy, its single most valuable agricultural export, the agriculture ministry said on Friday after such rumors sent Chicago soybean futures to a 7-1/2 month high.
Private sector representatives also dismissed talk that shipments of the oilseed would be disrupted from the world's No. 2 producer.

Canada farmers boost canola plantings-trade
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 20 (Reuters) - Canadian farmers will take advantage of dry planting conditions this spring to sow a record-large canola area, and boost acreage of wheat and other crops, according to a Reuters trade survey.
After spring floods the past two years washed out millions of acres in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, farmers have started planting early this year.