Orange juice futures prices sank to their daily limits Thursday as fears of a Florida freeze melted away.
On other futures markets, grain and soybeans rallied; precious metals advanced; livestock and meat were mixed; energy futures were mixed, and stock index futures were fractionally lower.
Forecasts for cold weather in the South pushed frozen concentrated orange juice futures up the 5-cent-a-pound daily limit Wednesday on New York's Cotton Exchange. But prices fell the limit Thursday when it appeared that the big chill would pass by the Florida citrus groves, analysts said.
"The cold weather is not going to materialize, according to most meteorologists, so people dumped it, they just dumped it," said Richard Cantor, an analyst in New York for Merrill Lynch Capital Markets Inc.
Wednesday's rally also was linked to a decision by Brazilian producers to raise prices for their products in Europe, Cantor said.
The contracts for May and September delivery of frozen orange juice concentrate fell the limit. The March contract, on which the limit has been removed pending the contract's upcoming expiration, settled 6.45 cents lower at $1.705 a pound.
Grain and soybean futures settled moderately higher on the Chicago Board of Trade on indications of increasing demand, analysts said.
With frigid weather spreading from the northern Plains into the Midwest, soybean prices advanced on ideas that livestock producers would need to buy more soybean meal to use as feed, said Jerry Gidel, an analyst for G. H. Miller & Co. in Chicago.
"The fact that we've gone through quite a bit of cold weather this winter means (livestock producers) have probably gotten down to the bottom of the feed bins," Gidel said.
Corn and wheat futures advanced on expectations of new export business, he said.
Wheat settled 4 cents to 5.25 cents higher, with March at $3.3475 a bushel.
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