Sugar hit its highest price in almost four months on Tuesday, rising almost 5 per cent on the day, after a report of Brazil’s converting more cane into ethanol biofuel.
The Unica industry association of Brazil said sugar production in the world’s top grower fell 14 per cent in the first five months of this year compared with the same period in 2007 – while Brazilian ethanol use more than doubled to 5bn litres.
It said: “With the forecast of more rains and cloudiness than last year, difficulties remain for us to reach production estimates.”
The news drove sugar for October delivery up 0.64 cents to 13.74 cents a pound on the Intercontinental Exchange, taking its gains this year to 26 per cent.
Peter de Clerk, an analyst at Czarnikow sugar brokers, said sugar was also benefiting from widespread enthusiasm for commodities as others asset classes suffered.
Cocoa hit an all-time high as new buyers entered the market on the first day of the second half. ICE July cocoa rose $115 to $3,367 a tonne. The beans have gained 60 per cent this year amid fears about the crop in Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest producer.
Coffee also advanced, with Liffe July robusta coffee futures adding $80 to $2,560 a tonne, a three-month high.
In Chicago, soyabean prices hit a record high on worries that this year’s US harvest would disappoint. A US agriculture department report on Monday showed that soyabean stocks were tight, while farmers had planted less than forecast, in favour of corn.
CBOT August soyabeans rose 20½ cents to $16.17½ a bushel, September corn was 8 cents lower at $7.29¾, and September wheat rose 11 cents to $8.69¾.
Mexico’s biggest mining union approved a one-hour walkout for this week, fuelling fears for copper supply from Latin America. Peruvian miners began a strike on Monday. London Metal Exchange copper for delivery in three months’ time rose 0.6 per cent to $8,619.
Gold hit a 10-week high as investors sought a haven amid falling stock markets, rising inflation and tensions in the Middle East. It rose 1.8 per cent to $950 a troy ounce. Analysts at UBS, who believe gold is overvalued by about $200, said their predicted sell-off would be “somewhat delayed” because of continued dollar weakness and rising oil prices.
In bilateral deals between producers and consumers, third-quarter prices for ferrochrome rose 6.8 per cent to $2.05 a pound, well below analysts’ forecasts. The steelmaking ingredient has almost doubled in price over the past year.
A bullish report from the International Energy Agency helped keep oil near its highs. The IEA said world oil supply would rise more slowly than expected over the next five years, leaving little spare capacity in the market in spite of weaker demand growth.
Nobuo Tanaka, IEA executive director, said: “Supply constraints, refinery limitations and continued demand growth in key emerging markets will maintain pressure in the market over the medium term.”
Nymex West Texas Intermediate rose $2.70 to $142.70 a barrel, just shy of its record $143.7 set in the previous session. ICE August Brent added $2.93 to $142.76 a barrel.
Aluminium rose 1.1 per cent to $3,155 a tonne. Analysts at Barclays Capital said: “We expect prices to continue to trend higher especially with the steep escalation in production costs and power constraints facing the market.”