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Commodities Update — Corn, soybean futures slide; Malaysia aims to regain palm oil market share

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RIYADH: Chicago corn and soybean futures slid on Friday as rising interest rates and currency pressures weighed on US exports and forecasts of warm, dry weather opened a window for Midwestern farmers to get their crops planted.

Meanwhile, Chicago wheat futures rose on technical buying and tight world supplies.

The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade settled the day up 2 cents, at $11.08-1/2 a bushel, and posted a weekly gain of 4.99 percent.

Soybeans and corn ended the week lower and extended weekly losses.

The CBOT’s most active soybean contract slid 25 cents to $16.22 a bushel, while the most-active CBOT corn settled down 12-3/4 cents at $7.84-3/4 a bushel.

Gold prices steady

Gold prices were on track for a third straight weekly decline on Friday as investors fretted over the prospects of aggressive rate hikes from the US Federal Reserve, though a slight pullback in the dollar helped the precious metal to tick higher on Friday. 

Spot gold rose 0.3 percent to $1,88.80 per ounce but was down 0.7 percent for the week. US gold futures were up 0.4 percent at $1,883.81.

Silver fell 0.08 percent to $22.37 per ounce, while platinum is priced at $962.24. 

Palladium is currently priced at $2,051.92. 

Malaysia aims to regain palm oil market share in EU amid global shortage

Malaysia, the world’s second-largest palm oil producer, on Friday said it plans to leverage the global edible oil shortage and “political tension in Europe” to regain market share after buyers shunned the commodity over environmental concerns.

Palm oil is used to make everything from lipstick to noodles, but top producers Indonesia and Malaysia have faced boycotts after being accused of clearing rainforests and exploiting migrant workers for the rapid expansion of plantations.

Some companies have introduced “palm oil-free products” in recent years, and the EU, the world’s third-biggest palm buyer, has ruled to phase out palm oil-based biofuels by 2030.

But retailers like British supermarket chain Iceland, which removed palm oil from its own-brand food starting in 2018, have been forced to return to the controversial commodity in recent months due to a global edible oil shortage triggered by the Russia-Ukraine war and Indonesia’s ban on palm oil exports.

Zuraida Kamaruddin, Malaysian Minister for Plantation Industries and Commodities, said in a statement the government “will not want to waste a good crisis.”

“It is time we step up efforts to counter adverse propaganda to undermine palm oil’s credibility and for us to showcase the numerous health benefits the golden oil has to offer,” she said.

Zuraida said global edible oil prices are likely to remain high in the first half of 2022 and EU demand is expected to increase in the near term due to tight sunflower and soy oil supplies.

Ukraine war drives global food prices to a near-record high

War in Ukraine that disrupted crop trade has driven global food prices to a near-record high, according to Bloomberg.

This happens as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reduced its exports, resulting in holding supplies from one of the world’s largest vegetable oil and wheat shippers. 

Additionally, high fertilizer prices and weather concerns are contributing to the mounting threats on global crop supplies, which includes drought limiting US wheat crops.

The UN food index declined less than 1 percent in April due to the fall in demand for vegetable oil and weaker corn prices, Bloomberg reported. 

“Prices are still definitely very high and definitely still very much a concern, especially for low-income food-deficit countries,” Erin Collier, an economist at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, said to Bloomberg. 

(With inputs from Reuters & Bloomberg) 

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