Cocoa continued to fall Thursday under the weight of poor demand, even as millions of people are ready to tuck into Easter eggs in the coming weekend.
Cocoa for July delivery, the most active contract, lost 2.6% to settle at $1.915 a ton on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange. After a brief rebound, cocoa prices again fell toward their eight-year lows hit in early March.
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Traders were waiting for North America's cocoa processing figures, which are due out on April 20 after the close. But a disappointing report out of Europe a day earlier foreshadowed weak cocoa grinds in North America for the first quarter.
Wednesday, the European Cocoa Association reported that European processing volumes of raw cocoa beans rose just 1.1% in the first quarter year-on-year to 339,485 metric tons, falling below industry expectations. Globally, the International Cocoa Organization is forecasting cocoa grind to only increase 2.9%, which is slightly below the historic trend average.
Analysts blame three years in a row of surging cocoa prices that led chocolate companies to raise prices for confections, eating into demand.
Confectionary manufacturer Barry Callebaut reported a 2.1% decline in the global market for chocolate confectionary in the six months to February, suggesting that "the slump in prices of almost 40% since last summer has not yet therefore led to demand for cocoa picking up again," said analysts at Commerzbank in a note to clients.
The outlook for cocoa was even more complicated by a surge in supply. Cocoa production in Ivory Coast is expected to increase from 1.581 million tons to a record 1.9 million, according to J. Ganes Consulting LLC.
The market is still looking at a production surplus of between 250,000 and 400,000 tons, and stockpiles of beans in consuming countries are approaching 5 million bags.
In other markets, raw sugar for May was down 0.6% to settle at 16.60 cents a pound, arabica coffee for May rose 0.4% to close at $1.3890 a pound, frozen concentrated orange juice for May lost 0.3% to close at $1.6075 a pound, and May cotton was up 1.2% to end at 75.62 cents a pound.
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Corrections & Amplifications
This item was corrected at 3:59 p.m. ET on Thurs., Apr., 13, 2017 to show that traders were waiting for North America's cocoa processing figures, which are due out on April 20 after the close, not April 13 after the close.
"Cocoa Futures Drop as European Demand Disappoints," at 11:16 a.m. and 3:26 p.m. on April 12 and "Cocoa Prices Lower Ahead of North American Grindings -- Market Talk," at 11:12 a.m., and "Cocoa Continues to Fall on Poor Demand" at 11:25 a.m. and 3:35 p.m. EDT on April 13 incorrectly reported the date for the release of North American cocoa grindings data. Traders were waiting for North America's cocoa processing figures, which are due out on April 20 after the close.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 13, 2017 16:12 ET (20:12 GMT)