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COMMODITIES : Florida's Warm Spell Puts Chill on Orange Juice Futures' Prices

February 17, 1988|From Associated Press

Prices of frozen concentrated orange juice futures fell sharply Tuesday as warmer weather moved into Florida's orange grove country and melted fears of a freeze.

On other markets, livestock and meat futures were mostly higher, grains and soybeans were mixed, precious metals were lower, energy futures retreated and stock index futures advanced.

Last week's forecasts for cold weather in Florida had some orange juice traders on the New York Cotton Exchange worried, but the orange crop escaped freeze damage, said Judy Ganes, an analyst in New York for the investment firm Shearson Lehman Hutton.

Rich Cantor of Merrill Lynch Capital Markets said that last weekend may have held the season's last threat of a freeze.

"Florida escaped what may have been one of its last cold spells from a seasonal perspective," Cantor said. "People may have seen that and sold it off."

Ganes also noted a widening of the gap between prices for near-term and deferred delivery. The March contract settled 2.40 cents lower at $1.661 a pound, more than 5 cents higher than the settlement price for May delivery.

The pattern indicated concerns about tight supplies for immediate delivery, she said.

Livestock and meat futures ended mostly higher on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in position-evening before the Agriculture Department's monthly cattle-on-feed report. The report, issued after the close, showed an 8% increase during January in the number of a cattle being fattened for slaughter.

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