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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian palm oil futures plunged to their lowest level in eight weeks on Tuesday despite robust November exports, as concerns about the Omicron coronavirus variant sparked a sell-off in global edible oils.

The benchmark palm oil contract for February delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange settled down 185 ringgit, or 3.81%, at 4,672 ringgit ($1,112.38) a tonne, its lowest since Oct. 5.

Palm oil logged its deepest daily plunge since Sept. 17.

The market turned weaker on renewed selling pressure from both soybean oil and Dalian exchange, driven by Omicron fears, said a trader based in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

The World Health Organization has said Omicron carried a very high risk of infection surges, while border closures by more countries cast a shadow over an economic recovery from the pandemic fallout.

Exports of Malaysian palm oil products for November rose 13.6% from October, said cargo surveyor Intertek Testing Services.

The world’s largest palm oil producer set its crude palm oil export reference price at $1,365.99 per tonne for December, up from $1,283.38 per tonne this month, a Trade Ministry regulation released on Monday showed.

Indonesia’s levy announcement makes Malaysia’s crude palm oil more attractive, however, buyers are awaiting more stability in external markets before placing their bids, said Paramalingam Supramaniam, director at Selangor-based brokerage Pelindung Bestari.

Dalian’s most-active soyoil contract fell 3.8%, while its palm oil contract dropped 3.3%. Soyoil prices on the Chicago Board of Trade were down 3.4%.

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

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