Orange juice futures rise as cold hits Florida

AP News
Posted: Jan 04, 2012 3:56 PM
Orange juice futures rise as cold hits Florida

Orange juice futures rose nearly 3 percent Wednesday after a cold snap hit Florida's crop.

Temperatures fell below freezing across much of Florida Tuesday night. A trade group spokesman said that the cold didn't linger long enough to cause significant damage, but the mere hint of trouble was enough to attract investors to OJ futures.

Orange juice concentrate for March delivery rose 4.95 cents to finish at $1.7805 per pound. The contract traded as high as $1.82 per pound earlier in the day.

Transworld Futures analyst Robert Rutger expects the rally to be short-lived because warmer weather is in the forecast.

Florida is the nation's largest orange grower and the bulk of the crop is used for making orange juice concentrate. The U.S. Agriculture Department has forecast Florida's orange crop at 150 million boxes this year, which would be a 7 percent increase over the 2010-2011 season.

Other commodity prices were mixed as concerns resurfaced about Europe's banking sector. Germany and Portugal borrowed money with relative ease, but Italy's biggest bank had to offer a bigger-than-expected discount on a stock sale as it raises money to shore up its capital base.

Another factor on investors' minds is the Labor Department's monthly unemployment report, which is scheduled to be released Friday. "I think it's going to be a lot of slop and chop before that number comes out" as investors readjust their portfolios, Kingsview Financial analyst Matt Zeman said.

Most metals ended lower.

March silver fell 47.5 cents to finish at $29.097 per ounce, March copper declined 9.4 cents to $3.4345 per pound, April platinum fell $6.20 to $1,426.30 an ounce and March palladium fell $9.95 to $653.55 per ounce. February gold was the exception. It rose $12.20 to end at $1,612.70 an ounce.

Energy contracts were higher. Crop prices were mixed.

Benchmark crude rose 26 cents to end at $103.22 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Heating oil rose 5.17 cents to finish at $3.0899 per gallon; gasoline futures increased 3.66 cents to $2.7852 per gallon and natural gas rose 10.5 cents to $3.127 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In March agriculture contracts, wheat fell 7 cents to finish at $6.50 per bushel, corn was unchanged at $6.585 per bushel and soybeans rose 2.5 cents to $12.30 per bushel.


AP writer Tamara Lush in Seffner, Fla., contributed to this report.