Prices of raw sugar futures jumped to their highest levels in six months on rumors of increased exports and predictions of tight supplies.
On other markets, new crop production estimates were called bullish for grain futures; stock index futures retreated; precious metals advanced; energy futures declined, and livestock and meat were mixed.
Rumors of possible Soviet purchases, steadily rising consumption and private predictions that worldwide demand would outstrip production by about 2 million metric tons this crop year combined to support sugar futures on the Coffee, Sugar and Cocoa Exchange in New York.
Pakistan accepted shipment of more than 30,000 metric tons over the weekend and China was rumored to have purchased as much as 600,000 metric tons last week, said Debra Tropp, an analyst in New York with Prudential-Bache Securities.
The rumors of Soviet buying due to an estimated supply shortfall in their country of about 500,000 metric tons added to the buying sentiment, she said.
Grain Prices Mixed
"We're seeing not only purchases, but concern that availability will grow tighter," Tropp said.
Raw sugar settled 0.13 cent to 0.34 cent higher with the contract for delivery in January at 7.27 cents a pound.
Grain and soybean futures closed mixed on the Chicago Board of Trade in light trading ahead of the U.S. Agriculture Department's monthly crop production estimates.
The numbers, released after the close, were mostly in line with analysts' estimates, said Victor Lespinasse, a trader with Dean Witter Reynolds.
However, the USDA also announced that it had targeted the Soviet Union for 2.4 million metric tons of U.S. wheat under its Export Enhancement Program.
That should help wheat futures bounce back from a weeklong decline and help offset the negative effects of the USDA's auction sale of 8.6 million bushels of wheat on Friday, Lespinasse said.
Stock Index Futures Fall
The USDA also reduced by 35 million bushels its estimate for the amount of soybeans expected to be on hand Aug. 31, the last day of the crop year. (Story, Page 23).
"That's friendly for the beans," Lespinasse said.
Stock index futures retreated on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, but not as much as the underlying Standard & Poor's 500 equity index, possibly indicating a stock market rally on Tuesday, analysts said.
With the return of program trading to the stock market, some players are trading again on the gap between stock prices and stock index futures, said Don Selkin, an analyst in New York with Prudential-Bache Securities.
"The December S&P (futures contract) actually settled at a 241-point premium to cash," Selkin said. "If it opens that way tomorrow, we should have a stronger opening on the stock market."