Orange Juice Sinks on Brazil Forecast; Cotton Lower Ahead of Crop Estimate

By Julie Wernau Features Dow Jones Newswires

Orange-juice futures sank Wednesday after a Brazilian association released a robust estimate for the upcoming orange crop in Brazil, the world's largest growing region.

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Frozen concentrated orange juice for July lost 3.9% to $1.4265 a pound on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange.

Fundecitrus, a citrus growers and juice manufacturers association from the state of Sao Paulo, released its estimate for the 2017/2018 orange crop in Brazil.

The group estimated that the region will grow 364.47 million boxes of oranges, versus its final estimate last year of 245.31 million boxes last season, a 49% increase year-over-year.

The estimate came as a welcome reprieve for orange-juice makers.

Rampant citrus greening disease, which causes fruit to drop before it is ripe, has devastated groves in Florida, home to most oranges grown for U.S. juice. Last year, lower production in Florida combined with drought in Brazil, the world's largest grower, caused futures prices to rise to as high as $2.25 a pound.

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"Price is what's driving consumption at retail for orange juice," said Brandon Saltmarsh with HomeMaker Juice.

In other markets, cotton for July lost 0.7% ahead of a monthly government update on supply and demand for fiber.

Analysts surveyed by the Wall Street Journal said they expect few changes to the USDA estimate for the 2016-2017 U.S. cotton crop, pegging production at 17.17 million bales versus 17.23 million bales last month, exports at 14.13 million bales versus 14 million bales last month, and ending stock at 3.5 million bales versus 3.7 million bales last month.

For the new 2017/2018 crop, which is currently being planted in the U.S., analysts surveyed by the Journal expect higher production on average, along with higher ending stocks than the 2016/2017 season.

They peg U.S. cotton production at 17.83 million bales, exports at 13.83 million bales, and ending stocks at 4.13 million bales.

Raw sugar for July was up 1.3% at 15.65 cents a pound, cocoa for July lost 0.3% to $1,954 a ton, and arabica coffee for July delivery rose 0.4% to $1.3575 a pound.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 10, 2017 11:28 ET (15:28 GMT)