KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's end-March palm oil stocks jumped more-than-expected to a four-month top, boosted by higher imports and production, but a surge in exports kept domestic supply in check, data from the industry regulator showed on Monday.
Inventories in the world's second-largest producer rose 10.7% from the previous month to 1.45 million tonnes, according to Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) data.
Crude palm oil production expanded for the first time in six months, rising 28.4% from February to 1.42 million tonnes, MPOB said.
"After a strong rebound in March, April output could be lower," Varqa said.
Palm oil exports jumped 31.8% to 1.18 million tonnes, its highest since January, while imports beat market expectations to surge 57% to 137,332 tonnes, MPOB said.
"High levels of imports in March suggest a prevailing tightness in the local market. To compensate that, imports increased significantly," said Paramalingam Supramaniam, director at Selangor-based brokerage Pelindung Bestari.
The higher inventory is bearish on Malaysia's benchmark crude palm oil prices.
"Overall the market will remain defensive, with the local industry grappling with a lack of manpower and the tightness in competing vegetable oils worldwide," he added.
A Reuters survey had forecast stockpile inched up 1.3% to 1.32 million tonnes. Production was expected to rise 25% to 1.38 million tonnes. Exports were seen up 25% to 1.12 million tonnes.
Following is a breakdown of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board figures and Reuters estimates for March (volumes in tonnes):
March 2021 March 2021 poll Feb 2021* March 2020 Output 1,423,354 1,382,000 1,108,236 1,401,481 Stocks 1,445,970 1,317,808 1,306,022 1,729,592 Exports 1,182,084 1,119,445 896,647 1,184,973 Imports 137,332 80,000 87,326 79,216 *indicates revised figures by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board
(Reporting by Mei Mei Chu; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Shailesh Kuber) ((email@example.com; +6-139-492-9424; Reuters Messaging: @meixchu on Twitter))