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Orange Juice Declines on FDA Test Indications; Cotton Advances

Orange-juice futures fell, capping the biggest weekly drop since September, as tests by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a banned fungicide in some domestic supplies indicated no health risk. Cotton climbed.

The FDA said yesterday that nine of 14 samples contained carbendazim in concentrations of less than 80 parts per billion, a safety benchmark set by the government. The agency, which will conduct follow-up tests, said it “does not believe there is a need to continue” screening juice already in the U.S. A probe on imports still is under way.

“A good chunk of the rally was because of this probe,” Jack Scoville, a vice president at Price Futures Group in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

Orange-juice futures for March delivery declined 1.3 percent to settle at $2.0145 a pound at 2 p.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. This week, the price tumbled 4.5 percent, snapping a six-week rally. On Jan. 23, the commodity rose to a record $2.2695.

“If people think that the imports will be approved, we could possibly go back down first to the $1.87 area and then to between $1.70 to $1.75,” Scoville said.

On Jan. 9, the FDA said imports were being tested for carbendazim. Coca Cola Co., the maker of Minute Maid and Simply Orange, alerted authorities that it found trace levels in some samples from Brazil, the world’s biggest citrus producer and the supplier of 25 percent of the orange juice consumed in the U.S. in 2010.

“All indications are that the current levels of carbendazim found in products in the domestic marketplace do not pose any safety concerns,” Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman, said today in an e-mail.

Cotton futures for March delivery advanced 2.3 percent to 96.34 cents a pound in New York, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since Jan. 17. This week, the fiber rose 0.8 percent.

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