Coffee futures prices soared more than 9 cents a pound Wednesday on New York's Coffee, Sugar & Cocoa Exchange in a sharp technical reversal of a trend that had taken prices to their lowest levels in a year.
On other markets, crop futures were mixed; energy prices fell; precious metals were higher; livestock and meat were mixed, and stock index futures advanced.
Coffee prices had fallen in five of the six previous trading sessions and "had just gotten entirely too cheap," said Bert Ruiz, an analyst with Balfour Maclaine Corp. in New York.
The recent selloff was triggered by speculation that disputes among the producer and consumer nations in the International Coffee Organization could lead to the collapse of the agreement governing trade quotas.
Ruiz said such talk "wasn't really rational" since the six-year ICO agreement does not expire until Sept. 30, 1989. Differences among ICO members are expected to be aired at an ICO council meeting next month.
Coffee futures also got a boost from the trade bill that was headed toward President Reagan's desk Wednesday, Ruiz said. The bill contained a provision to fund customs enforcement of a rule that all coffee imported by the United States must carry an ICO stamp.
The contract for September delivery of coffee settled 9.37 cents higher at $1.1820 a pound.
Grain and soybean futures prices finished mixed on the Chicago Board of Trade as predictions of rain offset the impact of the crop-wilting heat hovering over the Farm Belt.
Wheat finished higher, soybeans were mixed and corn and oats closed mostly lower.
Analysts said crop conditions had deteriorated in the intense, dry heat of the past four days, but mixed weather forecasts made traders unwilling to bet heavily on declining crop yields and higher prices.
"I can find you any forecast you want, from a good rain outlook over the next 24 to 48 hours to a poor rain outlook," said Ted Mao, grain specialist in New York with Shearson Lehman Hutton Inc.
"It's all a matter of individual meteorologists' interpretations of computer models," he said.
After the close, the National Weather Service issued a 6-to-10-day forecast calling for very hot, mostly dry conditions in the Midwest during the five days beginning next Tuesday.
Wheat prices advanced on news that China had purchased 500,000 metric tons of subsidized U.S. wheat, analysts said. The Agriculture Department announced another 500,000-ton Chinese wheat purchase after the close.
Wheat settled 1 cent to 5 cents higher, with September at $3.805 a bushel; corn was 3.5 cents lower to 1.5 cents higher, with September at $2.975 a bushel; oats were 5.25 cents to 7 cents lower, with September at $2.835 a bushel; soybeans were 3.5 cents lower to 6.5 cents higher, with August at $8.355 a bushel.
Energy futures prices fell on the New York Mercantile Exchange, with products outpacing crude oil in a volatile session marked by the market's attention to OPEC developments.
Prices surged at midday in anticipation of a bullish announcement from the OPEC pricing committee meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.
But when the meeting ended, OPEC Secretary-General Subroto announced no new plans to lower crude oil production and raise pricers, and futures prices plunged.
Hog Prices Fall
"The market just tanked and buyers were running and hiding," said Peter Beutel, an analyst in New York with Elders Futures Inc.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil settled 29 cents to 36 cents lower, with September at $15.26 a barrel; heating oil was 1.24 cents to 1.42 cents lower, with September at 42.96 cents a gallon; unleaded gasoline was 1.20 cents to 2.65 cents lower, with September at 45.21 cents a gallon.
Precious metals futures advanced slightly in light trading on the Commodity Exchange in New York.
Gold settled $1.80 to $1.90 higher, with August at $433.30 an ounce; silver was 3.4 cents to 4.3 cents higher, with August at $6.835 an ounce.
Cattle and frozen pork belly futures advanced on mostly technical factors while hogs futures prices fell due to heavier than expected cash sales and expectations that producers would continue to move hogs to market despite the extreme heat, analysts said.
Live cattle were 0.35 cent to 0.80 cent higher, with August at 65.85 cents a pound; feeder cattle were 0.30 cent to 1.25 cent higher, with August at 78.47 cents a pound; hogs were unchanged to 0.35 cent lower, with August at 45.17 cents a pound; frozen pork bellies were unchanged to 1.32 cents higher, with August at 33.47 cents a pound.
Stock index futures advanced on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where the contract for September delivery of the Standard & Poor's 500 index settled 1 point higher at 274.05.
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