Cocoa futures fell to a 30-month low on signs that Europe's debt crisis is worsening, dimming demand prospects for commodities. Sugar tumbled to a five-month low, and coffee slid.
Standard & Poor's yesterday cut Belgium's credit grade, after saying it may soon lower Japan's. Fitch Ratings cited rising debt and a weak economy for cutting Portugal's credit to junk, while Italy's borrowing costs almost doubled from a month earlier. The dollar rose to a seven-week high against a basket of currencies. The harvest in Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world's top cocoa growers, is boosting supplies.
Hedging coming in
"Some of the pressure is coming from the macro" economy, Drew Geraghty, a broker at ICAP Futures in Jersey City, New Jersey, said in a telephone interview.
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"The dollar is stronger and we're getting to the brunt of the crop in West Africa, so there's also hedging coming in."
Cocoa for March delivery retreated 1 per cent to settle at $2,381 a metric tonne on ICE Futures US in New York, after touching $2,378, the lowest since May 2009. Last week, cocoa fell 3.1 per cent, the fourth straight decline and the longest slump since September. The price may drop to $2,250 before the end of the quarter as harvesting advances in West Africa, Geraghty said.
The S&P's GSCI Index of 24 raw materials lost as much as 0.9 per cent as the dollar's rally eroded the appeal of commodities.
Raw-sugar futures for March delivery fell 0.8 per cent to 22.9 cents a pound on ICE, after touching 22.71 cents, the lowest since June 2.
Last week, sugar tumbled 4.5 per cent, the sixth straight weekly drop and the longest losing streak since early May.
"Sugar is struggling to get back to 23 cents, but could find some buying interest from China" around that price, Michael McDougall, a senior vice-president with Newedge Group in New York, said in a tele-phone interview.
Arabica-coffee futures for March delivery dropped 1.2 per cent to $2.3255 a pound on ICE. The price slid 2.6 per cent last week.
"There's concern that coffee supplies are tight, but the macro is not helping," Maria Lopez Calleja, a trader with INTL FCStone Inc. in Miami, said in a telephone interview.