Arabica Coffee Seen Advancing on Crop Disease as Cocoa Declines

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Arabica coffee may climb in New York on speculation disease that is spreading in nations in Central America and Mexico will prompt traders to close out bets on lower prices. Cocoa declined.

Leaf rust, also known as roya fungus that affects foliage, may destroy a third of the crop in Guatemala, Central America’s second biggest producer, President Otto Perez Molina said in an interview in Davos, Switzerland today. Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico and Honduras, the region’s biggest grower, are also battling the disease. Speculators have cut bets on lower prices 36 percent from a record on Nov. 16, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

“The roya situation and the potential that next season’s crops may be impacted is certainly a current focus of the market,” Keith Flury, an analyst at Rabobank International in London, said by e-mail today. “If the Central American crop is lower, this will support coffee prices. This could also be impacting the bearish investor positioning.”

Arabica coffee for March delivery was 0.3 percent lower at $1.50 a pound at 7:32 a.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. Robusta coffee for March delivery rose 0.5 percent to $1,971 a ton on NYSE Liffe in London.

Cocoa for March delivery dropped 0.3 percent to $2,208 a ton on ICE. Cocoa for March delivery was down 0.1 percent at 1,445 pounds ($2,286) a ton on NYSE Liffe.

Raw sugar for March delivery fell 0.2 percent to 18.46 cents a pound in New York. White, or refined, sugar for March delivery dropped 0.8 percent to $485.90 a ton in London.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isis Almeida in London at ialmeida3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net