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NY futures bounce back strongly

12
Apr '08
NY futures rebounded strongly this week, with May rallying 434 points to close at 74.75 cents, while December advanced 453 points to close at 85.40 cents.

A piggyback ride on the strength of other commodities, a benign USDA supply/demand report and strong US export sales gave the market a much needed boost this week.

The CRB index rallied 4.5 percent this week and closed just 2.5 percent below its March 13 record of 420.64. Apart from crude oil, which traded as high as 112 dollar a barrel, it was Ag commodities that performed extremely well over the last few sessions.

This renewed strength in Ag commodities may be connected to recent headlines regarding food riots in many parts around the globe. Earlier this week protests against high food prices turned violent in Haiti and Egypt and there have been widespread protests in parts of Asia and a number of African countries.

In the case of rice, which is the staple food to over 3 billion people, prices have doubled over the last year. While governments of rice-importing nations such as the Philippines are scrambling for supplies even at these elevated prices, producing countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, India and China have been curbing exports.

There are reports of hoarding on both ends of the supply chain, which have pushed the price of rice higher than fundamentals may justify, but global stocks are near the lowest level in over two decades and there seems to be no immediate solution to this spike in prices.

This food crisis has been brewing for years and despite warnings by the UN no one seemed to take it seriously. In China rice acreage has dropped by 7 million acres over the last ten years, mainly due to urbanization and more recently due to a switch to corn for ethanol, while the rapidly rising middle class in China and India has been consuming vast amounts more year after year. This in turn should provide support to cotton, especially with US cotton acreage at the lowest level in 25 years.


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