February 22nd, 2012

Sugar Futures – Raw sugar climbed for a fifth day in New York, the longest winning streak in a month, on speculation supplies will remain limited after a drought damaged the crop in Mexico. Coffee and cocoa slid in New York.

A drought in Mexico has reduced the crop to 5.1 million metric tons from a previous forecast of 5.3 million tons, an industry committee said on Feb. 10. Mexico now plans to approve imports of 250,000 tons of sugar, according to a proposal by the country’s economy ministry. With smaller-than-expected Mexican supplies, some sugar from Central America may be shipped to the U.S., limiting availability of sweetener to be delivered against the March contract in New York. Mexico traditionally supplies the U.S. and March raw sugar futures expire on Feb. 29.

“Despite a large recovery in inventories in 2011, prices have been recently supported by the slowdown in exports from Brazil in January and downgrades to Mexico’s sugarcane harvest following the ongoing drought,” Damien Courvalin, an analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York, wrote in a report e-mailed today.

Sugar futures raw for May delivery climbed 0.5 percent to 24.60 cents a pound by 7:47 a.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. White, or refined, sugar for May delivery rose 1 percent to $649.60 a ton on NYSE Liffe in London.

Sugar futures raw for March delivery was 0.97 cents a pound more expensive than May-delivered sweetener, up from 0.88 cents a pound yesterday, data on Bloomberg show. The price difference between the two contracts has increased 76 percent this month, signaling limited supplies.

Limited Supplies

“This near-term tightness limited the impact of the recent announcements of exports from Pakistan and the additional million tons of sugar exports allowed by the Indian government,” Courvalin wrote.

Pakistan allowed 100,000 tons of sugar exports, Ministry of Finance spokesman Naveed Iqbal said by phone on Jan. 31. India, the world’s second-largest producer, approved an additional 1 million tons of sugar exports, a government official said Feb. 7. That is on top of 1 million tons approved in November.

Cocoa futures for May delivery was down 0.3 percent to $2,415 a ton on ICE, after rising as much as 4.3 percent yesterday. Cocoa for March delivery rose 0.3 percent to 1,553 pounds ($2,435) a ton on NYSE Liffe. London cocoa gained a boost from New York’s rise yesterday, as the commodity rose 2.9 percent by the close on NYSE Liffe.

Coffee futures for May delivery fell 0.4 percent to $2.052 a pound in New York. Robusta for May delivery slipped 0.5 percent to $1,963 a ton in London.

- Isis Almeida in London at Bloomberg.