* Malaysia March palm stocks likely to ease to 7-mth low -Reuters poll * Market participants await stocks and exports data on Wednesday * Palm oil faces resistance at 2,400 ringgit -technicals (Updates prices) By Chew Yee Kiat SINGAPORE, April 5 (Reuters) - Malaysian palm oil futures inched lower on Friday, tracking weak soy markets, and posted a second straight weekly loss, with investors cautious ahead of key industry data due next week. Soybean prices have eased this week after the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported larger-than-expected stockpiles and on worries that bird flu might spread in top importer China and reduce feed demand. Palm oil tends to track soybean and soybean oil prices closely as the edible oils are close substitutes. Market participants are awaiting official data on Malaysia's March palm inventory levels -- due on Wednesday -- to gauge the tropical oil's supply and demand fundamentals. Analysts said lower stocks may provide support for prices. "We believe the overall data should be short-term positive to crude palm oil prices," Alan Lim Seong Chun, research analyst with Malaysia's Kenanga Investment Bank, said in a note to clients on Friday. The bank is revising its March inventory forecast slightly down to 2.26 million tonnes from 2.31 million tonnes earlier after revising its production and exports estimates, Lim said. A Reuters survey of five plantation companies showed Malaysia's palm oil stocks likely edged to a 7-month low in March at 2.35 million tonnes. By the market close, the benchmark June contract on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange had eased 1.5 percent to 2,356 ringgit ($771) per tonne. For the week, prices suffered a 0.9 percent loss. Total traded volumes were thin at 20,144 lots of 25 tonnes each, compared to the average 35,000 lots seen so far this year. Technical analysis indicated palm oil faces resistance at 2,400 ringgit per tonne, a break above which will lead to a further gain to 2,420 ringgit, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.
Traders are also looking out for Malaysia's export data on Wednesday for the first 10 days of April, after cargo surveyors showed better exports in March than February boosted by higher shipments of refined products.
In other markets, Brent crude oil steadied close to five-month lows around $106 per barrel on Friday as bleak U.S. data and bulging inventories dimmed the outlook for fuel demand. In vegetable oil markets, U.S. soyoil for May delivery lost 0.1 percent in late Asian trade. The Dalian Commodities Exchange will be closed until Monday for a public holiday in China.
Palm, soy and crude oil prices at 1003 GMT Contract Month Last Change Low High Volume MY PALM OIL APR3 2347 -19.00 2345 2355 19 MY PALM OIL MAY3 2354 -29.00 2340 2363 1158 MY PALM OIL JUN3 2356 -36.00 2346 2373 12177 CHINA PALM OLEIN SEP3 6216 +54.00 6166 6300 851898 CHINA SOYOIL SEP3 7858 +12.00 7802 7914 708660 CBOT SOY OIL MAY3 48.49 -0.06 48.35 48.62 7152 NYMEX CRUDE MAY3 93.00 -0.26 92.95 93.57 13768 Palm oil prices in Malaysian ringgit per tonne CBOT soy oil in U.S. cents per pound Dalian soy oil and RBD palm olein in Chinese yuan per tonne Crude in U.S. dollars per barrel ($1=3.06 ringgit) (Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Tom Hogue)