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Pepper Trades at $6,050 Per Ton as Singapore Starts Futures

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Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The Singapore Mercantile Exchange started trading black-pepper futures today, the first agricultural commodities contract offered by the exchange.

Black pepper for March delivery was at $6,050 per metric ton at 5:05 p.m. in Singapore, after trading between $5,950 and $6,070, with 125 contracts traded, according to Darren Low, an associate at the exchange.

Imports by the U.S. rose to 64,276 tons in the first 11 months of 2011, from 63,274 tons a year earlier, the International Pepper Community said in its weekly bulletin. Harvesting is under way in India and will peak in the second half of this month, said the group, an inter-government organization of producing countries including Brazil, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

In Vietnam, the harvest is set to start soon, it said, without elaborating. The country dominates the world market, with an export share of 43 percent, while other major shippers include Indonesia, Malaysia and India, the Singapore exchange said this month.

Pepper vines thrive best in a tropical climate and the highest yields are found in fertile, flat or gently sloping land with good drainage and light shade, the community website said.

The contract traded in Singapore, the first in global pepper futures, is for spice with a density of 550 grams per liter, a common grade in Asia, the exchange said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Luzi Ann Javier in Singapore at ljavier@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net

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