Malaysian palm oil futures on Thursday struggled to recover from a more than three-year low hit in the previous session, as rising inventories in the world's second-biggest producer weighed on the market and physical demand showed no signs of improvement despite a hefty price correction.
The benchmark palm oil contract for January delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange was down 0.05 percent at 1,972 Malaysian ringgit ($470.98) a tonne at the midday break.
It hit its lowest since August 2015 at 1,965 ringgit on Wednesday and has declined about 8.5 percent in the previous seven sessions of falls.
Trading volumes stood at 12,064 lots of 25 tonnes each at Thursday noon. <1FCPO-TOT>
"Market is testing the current underlying support and players are waiting for fresh demand to drive prices higher," said a Kuala Lumpur-based trader.
Exports of Malaysian palm oil products for Nov. 1 - 15 rose 2 percent from a month earlier to 549,488 tonnes, said independent inspection company AmSpec Agri Malaysia.
Stockpiles at the end of October increased 7.6 percent from the previous month to 2.72 million tonnes, while production rose 6 percent to 1.96 million tonnes, official data from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board showed on Monday.
Inventories are expected to rise further in top producers Indonesia and Malaysia in the coming months, with demand unlikely to jump from key buyers as palm oil solidifies in winter months, dealers said.
India's palm oil imports are unlikely to climb over November to January even as prices for the commodity plumb their lowest in more than three years, reined in by ample local supply of rival oilseeds and as a liquidity crunch hits would-be buyers.
A sharp fall in crude oil prices has also been weighing on palm prices, said another Kuala Lumpur-based trader.
Palm oil prices get impacted by movements in crude oil, as the edible oil is used as feedstock to make biodiesel.
Crude oil prices slipped on Thursday, weighed down by rising supply going into a market in which consumption is expected to slow down amid a glum economic outlook.
In other related edible oils, the Chicago December soybean oil contract was up 0.36 percent, while the January soybean oil contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose 0.22 percent.
Meanwhile, the January palm oil contract eased 0.3 percent.
Palm oil prices are affected by movements of other edible oils as they compete for a share in the global vegetable oil market.
Palm oil may end its bounce around a resistance at 1,996 ringgit per tonne, and then retest a support at 1,972 ringgit, according to Reuters market analyst for commodities and energy technicals Wang Tao.
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