,Latest industry statistics released by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) on Wednesday showed local output dropped for a fifth straight month in February to 1.11 million tonnes – its lowest level in five years. Low production keeps CPO prices near 13-year high THE benchmark crude palm oil (CPO) futures contract on Bursa Derivatives was traded traded around the RM4,000-a-tonne level this week as labour shortages and bad weather in key plantation areas curbed production. Latest industry statistics released by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) on Wednesday showed local output dropped for a fifth straight month in February to 1.11 million tonnes – its lowest level in five years. While exports were about 5% weaker at less than 900,000 tonnes, the low production kept inventory at a three-month low of 1.3 million tonnes. MIDF Research predicted tight supplies of edible oil worldwide would keep CPO prices at elevated levels, but prices would ease back in the second half of this year as the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine would help overcome the labour shortage faced by local planters. Top Glove makes another record quarterly profit SHARES in Top Glove Corp Bhd were still stuck near its lowest level in eight months as investors shrugged off its fourth consecutive quarters of record net profit – a whopping RM2.87bil made in the three months ended Feb 28, as announced this week. Consensus estimates put its earnings for full year ending Aug 31, 2021 at above RM10bil. Top Glove leads glove makers to record a staggering profit growth in recent quarters, as strong demand for the protective gear amid the pandemic drove up its average selling prices (ASPs). But with more than 300 million people worldwide vaccinated, most analysts believed that glove makers’ earnings are approaching their peaks. They said that while demand for gloves remained strong, the ASPs are likely to go down, going forward, with additional capacity from existing and new players, especially in China, start to come on stream this year. Top Glove currently has the capacity to produce 93 billion gloves a year. By the end of 2024, the world’s biggest glove maker is targeting to increase its capacity to 208 billion pieces. To help pay for the expansion, the company is planning to sell RM7.77bil new shares in Hong Kong, to be completed by June. Meanwhile, rival Hartalega Holdings Bhd announced this week that it will invest RM7bil to build 16 new factories in Kedah over the next 20 years. Pandemic takes a huge toll on tourism TOURIST spending in the country plunged 85% to RM12.7bil in 2020, as the borders in Malaysia remain shut since March 18 to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tourism Malaysia said on Wednesday that tourist arrivals in 2020 fell to 4.33 million visitors compared with 26.1 million in 2019. Other Asean markets also saw similar decline, with Singapore down 86%, followed by Thailand at 83% lower, Vietnam at 79% and Indonesia recording 75% drop in arrivals. Most international borders in the region remained closed in March even as governments ramp up their respective vaccination programmes. At home, recent easing on inter-state travels provided some relief to the badly hit tourism sector.
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