KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian palm oil futures fell as much as 10 per cent on Tuesday, their most in over a decade, on mounting fears that a fast-spreading coronavirus in China will hit demand, amid a diplomatic spat with India.

The benchmark palm oil contract for April delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange hit its lowest since Nov 15, 2019 at 2,575 ringgit ($633.46) per tonne when markets closed on Tuesday. This was the biggest drop since prices fell 10.3pc on Oct. 24, 2008.

“It is because of the virus (that) all commodities are down,” a Kuala Lumpur-based trader told Reuters. China’s death toll from the virus has risen to 106 as of Monday, while the number of total confirmed cases surged to 4,515.

After three months of sharp gains, palm oil prices have declined 15.6pc so far in January, mainly after New Delhi slapped curbs on imports of refined palm oil and informally asked traders to halt all palm imports from Malaysia due to a diplomatic row.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2020

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