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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian palm oil futures climbed more than 4% on Thursday to touch their highest level since 2008, as tightening edible oil supplies across the world underpinned prices.

The benchmark palm oil contract on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange finished up 166 ringgit, or 4.1%, to 4,210 ringgit ($1,021.84) a tonne. The market touched its highest since 2008 at 4,231 ringgit a tonne earlier in the session.

“Output in May is very crucial with lesser working days especially for harvesting. We are already grappling with manpower problems and it’s going to be tougher in May,” said Paramalingam Supramaniam, director at Selangor-based brokerage Pelindung Bestari.

“Demand is better, with palm being the cheapest vis-a-vis other competing oils. Thus, we anticipate prices to remain both defensive and firmer,” he added.

However, Indian edible oil refiners are curtailing palm oil imports for May and June as most states have imposed curbs on hotels and restaurants to arrest rising coronavirus infections, denting institutional demand, industry officials said.

India is the world’s biggest edible oil importer.

Malaysia’s crude palm oil contract for May delivery jumped to record high of 4,704 ringgit ($1,140.92) a tonne on Thursday.

Palm oil is being supported by a rally in the global agriculture market, led by Chicago corn and soyabean futures, which are trading close to multi-year highs.

Chicago corn futures rose up to 2% to hit their highest in more than eight years, as concerns over dry weather in Brazil and strong demand from animal feed producers buoyed the market.

Palm oil may break a resistance at 4,098 ringgit per tonne and rise into a range of 4,130-4,169 ringgit, Wang Tao, a Reuters market analyst for commodities technicals, said in a report.

Dalian’s most-active soyaoil contract rose 5.3% while its palm oil contract added 5.7%. Soyaoil prices on the Chicago Board of Trade were 1.5% higher.

Palm oil is affected by price movements in related oils as they compete for a share in the global vegetable oils market.