CPO futures closed RM30 higher to RM2,780 per tonne for October delivery while the third-month contract for December rose RM35 to RM2,680.

Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd was the top performer, rising 40 sen to RM13.40 while Highlands & Lowlands Bhd rose 35 sen to RM8.85 and Golden Hope Plantations Bhd added 30 sen to RM9.50.

Guthrie Ropel Bhd and Asiatic Development Bhd gained 25 sen each to RM7.70 and RM6.05 respectively and Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd added 20 sen to RM7.35. Boustead Holdings Bhd gained 15 sen to RM5.85. Heavyweight IOI Corp Bhd rose 10 sen to RM6.20.

The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index closed 6.68 points higher to 1,383.61. The plantation index rose 137.06 points to close at 6,692.5.

Analysts said the rally on CPO prices was fuelled by soaring prices of rival soybean oil and short covering by traders. Light crude oil continued to hover at record high prices of US$81 per barrel.

On Wednesday, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) reported that September palm oil production rose 2.7% to 1.6 million tonnes in September from 1.55 million tonnes a month earlier. Exports surged 11.7% on-month to 1.39 million tonnes.

Hwang DBS Equity Research said these factors, combined with increased domestic consumption helped to maintain a relatively flat palm oil inventory.

The research house upgraded its CPO price forecast this year by 4.3% to RM2,400 per tonne from RM2,300 per tonne, on the assumption that CPO prices would average around RM2,400 per tonne. It said forward CPO prices for 2008 and 2009 were RM2,525 per tonne and RM2,421 per tonne respectively.

“We believe the impact of this year’s drought, on top of an already tight oilseeds supply forecast, had shaped more bullish expectations for next year,” it said in its report yesterday.

It said demand for soybean oil and soybean meal is expected to increase next year, given the tight supply of global oilseeds this year due to significant declines in soybean acreage in the US, as well as the drought which had affected Europe, China, South America, Australia and the US.

Hwang DBS Research said high wheat prices were another bullish pull factor for palm oil, as the land tussle between oilseeds and grains became more apparent.