[Editor's note: Every Friday visit the Business 380 for "Back to the Futures," a quick discussion of the week's grain, livestock, gasoline prices and other topics.]
Spooky selloff in cocoa, sugar
Halloween marks the highest level of candy consumption throughout the year in the United States, but that fact did not help the cocoa or sugar markets this week.
The world’s largest cocoa producers, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, are both harvesting their major crop for the year, while well-timed rains are helping to alleviate drought concerns in West Africa. The two nations combine to produce over half of the global cocoa crop, followed by Colombia and Thailand. Cocoa ground down $79 per metric ton this week to $2634.
Likewise, the sugar market declined on expectations of unusually high exports from India, the world’s second-largest producer. The sugar market is also under pressure due to concerns that China will not be buying as much of the sweetener due to already large supplies. Sugar melted down to 18.26 cents per pound for March futures.
As a result of these declines in cocoa and sugar, some US shoppers may see some sweet bargains on their favorite treats soon.
Crude keeps dropping
Crude oil prices continued to decline this week as a growing supply puts pressure on the market. Domestic supplies of “black gold” have risen for six consecutive weeks, gaining by more than 28 million barrels of petroleum. This climb has pushed the US inventory to a record high for this time of year. Inventories continue to gain as a result of rising production from Texas to Canada, where new discoveries and innovative technology have spawned new sources production.
Crude slid to a four-month low on Friday, trading down to $94.66 per barrel.
Longer-term, new pipelines and refineries that are exporting gasoline and diesel fuel to foreign markets may cut into the glut of crude oil in the central United States.
Corn in a crunch
Corn prices fell Friday to a three-year low under $4.26 per bushel. Prices are falling as the US corn harvest speeds to a finish, with more than half of the crop already out of the field. Weak exports and expectations for a record-breaking crop are also weighing on prices, which have declined over 80 cents (-16%) over the last two months. Though bad news for farmers, this decline helps meat and ethanol producers who benefit from lower corn prices.
Opinions are solely the writer’s. Walt Breitinger is a commodity futures broker with Paragon Investments in Silver Lake, KS. He can be reached at (800) 411-3888 or www.indianafutures.com. This is not a solicitation of any order to buy or sell any market.