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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian palm oil futures rose on Friday and were on course for a third straight annual gain, with tight production and robust demand expected to keep prices firm next year.

The benchmark palm oil contract for March delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange gained 41 ringgit, or 0.88%, to 4,724 ringgit ($1,131.77) a tonne by the midday break.

Palm has jumped 31% so far in 2021 as a pandemic-fuelled labour shortage hammered output in the world’s second largest producer, while demand picked up after countries eased lockdowns. Prices are set to average around 4,149.57 ringgit ($994.62) this year.

“2021 has been a year of supply shortages and weather disruptions. Demand returned, but supply struggled to keep up,”

Sathia Varqa, co-founder of Singapore-based Palm Oil Analytics, said.

“High prices fuelled inflationary pressure in major importing countries warranting trade policy changes,” Varqa added.

Global demand for commodities is expected to remain robust in 2022 and underpin prices as the world economy continues to recover, although similar price jumps are unlikely, analysts and traders say.

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