Orange Juice Ends Higher; Coffee Bulls Take Cover

By Julie Wernau Features Dow Jones Newswires

Orange-juice futures rose for a second-straight session as some traders placed seasonal long bets ahead of hurricane season.

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Frozen concentrated orange juice for May rose 1.5% to end at $1.6615 a pound on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange.

"Speculators appear to be buying, in part, in anticipation of hurricane season," said Jack Scoville, vice president of Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Florida is a major producer of oranges for U.S. juice and in the past hurricanes that have made landfall there have devastated coastal citrus areas. Traders in this thinly traded market have a tendency to place bets on higher prices leading into hurricane season.

But weak demand for juice and boost in supplies out of Brazil have capped prices for orange juice.

"This large jump in availability should keep a steady stream of FCOJ flowing in the United States market and prevent acute shortfalls the rest of this season," said Judy Ganes of J. Ganes Consulting.

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Brazil has helped boost orange-juice supplies in the U.S. in light of an incurable disease in Florida groves that is leading fruit to drop before it is ripe. The multiyear onslaught has dropped production there to 67 million boxes, the lowest since 1963.

WeatherBELL analytics said Tuesday that Florida's developing fruit have also been subjected to a very dry winter and spring, with some key citrus areas in a drought. The weather forecaster said the dryness should extend through the end of the month, followed by unusually heavy rains.

In other markets, arabica coffee futures dropped sharply Wednesday, the day before first notice in the May contract. Nicholas Scaduto, a trader at Armenia Coffee Corp. in New York said long-positioned hedgers still left in the contract were selling to avoid taking physical delivery of coffee.

Declining open interest, helped exaggerate the move. The May contract lost 3.4% to end at $1.38 a pound while the July contract, the most active, lost 1.4% to close at $1.4065 a pound.

A strong dollar against the Brazilian real also encouraged sales from producers in Brazil, the world's largest coffee producer, who booked sales at a time when dollar denominated coffee could be recouped for more of their local currency.

In other markets, raw sugar for May dropped 1.7% to settle at 16.42 cents a pound, cocoa for July was off 2.2% to end at $1,873 a ton and July cotton closed up 0.2% at 78.32 cents a pound.

Write to Julie Wernau at julie.wernau@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 19, 2017 15:59 ET (19:59 GMT)