KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian palm oil futures closed 3% lower on Thursday, as investors booked profits after two days of sharp gains, while a forecast of higher inventories in May also dented sentiment.

The benchmark palm oil contract for August delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange settled down 3%, to 2,326 ringgit ($543.84) a tonne.

The contract has added 2.5% in the previous two sessions and hit a two-month closing high on June 3.

May output in Malaysia, the world's second-largest producer, likely rose 3% from the month before, while inventories possibly surged 12% month-on-month to 2.28 million tonnes, according to a forecast by CGS-CIMB Research.

“The concerns over rising stocks are partially offset by expectations that India will raise its purchase of palm oil in June to replenish stocks," said Ivy Ng, regional head of plantations research at CGS-CIMB Research, said in a note.

India's palm oil imports in May plunged 53% from a year ago as a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 cut demand, but this will prompt refiners to raise imports from June onwards, the Solvent Extractors Association of India said.

Meanwhile, oil prices dropped on doubts over the ability of crude producers to agree to extend record output cuts, heightened by worries over a build in US fuel inventories.

Weaker crude oil futures make palm a less attractive option for biodiesel feedstock.

Dalian's most-active soyaoil contract fell 0.63%, while its palm oil contract gained 0.78%. Soyaoil prices on the Chicago Board of Trade were also down 1.18%.

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

Copyright Reuters, 2020