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Weekly: ICE Sugar ends near six-year high; Supply ramp-up may build pressure

5 Feb 2023 4:06 pm
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Mumbai, 5 FEB (Commoditiescontrol): ICE raw sugar succeeded in maintaining its upward march with price of the sweetener climbing to six year high on concerns of availability. Concerns over India fulfilling its sugar exports and Brazil's Petrobas raising wholesale gasoline prices were the two key factors that helped pump up sugar prices. Analysts are calling the markets to have reached its near-term peak and hence suggest staying light on their long position.

Meanwhile, on Friday, futures came off from a six-year peak set earlier in the week. The recent gains accumulated on the back of reduced sugar output and smaller sugar exports from India seemed far-fetched.

March ICE raw sugar settled down 0.42 cent, or 1.9%, at 21.24 cents per lb after earlier climbing to a six-year peak of 21.86 cents on Wednesday. Sugar prices found mild early support before turning sharply lower to finish Friday's session. For the week, however, March sugar finished with a gain of 28 ticks or 1.3%, after rising 6.3% in the previous week.

March London white sugar fell $15.50, or 2.7%, at $551.30 a tonne. The contract lost 2% in the week.

Dealers said the market's recent rise was driven partly by lower-than-expected production in India, which heightened concern about tight supplies.

Bullish factors....

Heavy rainfall in India, the world's second-largest producer, has led to a reduction in sugar cane crushing and "catalysed an upward move in sugar prices", Fitch Solutions said in a note on Friday.

The run-up has been fuelled by tight supplies and partly by suggestions that lower than expected production in India is likely to curb its exports.

India, the world's second-largest sugar exporter, is likely to produce 34 million tonnes of the sweetener in 2022/23, down 7% from the previous forecast, a leading trade body said.

Brazil's decision to end a tax exemption on imports of fuel ethanol could also potentially lead to more use of cane to produce the biofuel domestically at the expense of sugar.

A global sugar deficit of 1.01 million tonnes is projected for the 2023/24 season, ending a run of three successive surpluses, analyst Green Pool said.

Prospect of smaller sugar output in India is seen discouraging the government from allowing additional sugar exports is boosting prices. India's National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories projects that India's 2022/23 sugar production will fall 4.5% on year to 34.3 MMT.

India's Food Secretary Chopra said last Thursday that India would assess domestic demand before deciding whether to allow more sugar exports next month. India is the world's second-largest sugar exporter.

Sugar prices also have support from last Tuesday when Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras raised gasoline prices by more than 7% to distributors. Strength in gasoline is supportive of ethanol prices, and higher ethanol prices may prompt Brazil's sugar mills to boost ethanol production at the expense of sugar.

Brazil's center-south sugarcane crushing totalled only 440,000 tonnes in the first half of January, as just a few mills continue with operations in the between-harvests period, industry group Unica said. Brazil is the biggest sugar producer in the world.

Bearish factors....

India Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) reported last Tuesday that India's 2022/23 sugar production from Oct-Jan 15 rose 4% on year to 15.7 MMT. India is the world's second-largest sugar exporter.

Unica reported on Jan 11 that Brazil's 2022/23 sugar production through December rose 4.4% on year to 33.462 MMT. Last month, sugar posted a 2-1/2 month low on an improved sugar supply outlook.

Crude oil and gasoline prices moving lower this week reduces the incentive to crush for ethanol. Analyst cautioned traders against creating fresh long position. They expect the market to consolidate in the short term after its recent strong advance, with technical indicators suggesting the market has become overbought.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Thursday that as a result of the ransomware attack on ION Trading UK the CFTC's weekly Commitments of Traders report will be delayed until all trades can be reported. Last week week to Jan. 17 data from the CFTC showed that speculators increased their bullish bets on raw sugar futures on ICE U.S.

A sizable pullback in crude oil and RBOB gasoline prices put carryover pressure for the sugar market as that may weaken near-term ethanol demand. In addition, expectations that Thailand could see record high sugar exports this season also pressure the market. Reversal from key levels suggests that the markets have established near-term top.

For Monday, support for the December Cotton contract is at 21.04 cents and 20.85 cents, with resistance at 21.57 cents and 21.91 cents.

(By Commoditiescontrol Bureau: 09820130172)

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