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Weekly: ICE raw sugar futures returns to weekly loss on stronger dollar, ample supply prospects

25 Mar 2024 9:38 am
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Mumbai, 25 Mar (Commoditiescontrol): ICE Sugar prices have once again returned to the losses during the week ended Mar 222nd, as stronger dollar as well as robust prospect for Brazil sugar cane, European sugar beat amid improved weather condition helped tame supply concern, while poor global demand applied pressure. However, London sugar prices ended the week on a strong note.

Brewing geopolitical concerns in the middle-east and Russia/Ukraine provided little support for the natural sweetener to arrest price slide.

ICE raw sugar futures settled lower on Friday, as rally in the dollar index to a 5-week high sparked long liquidation. The natural sweetener to its weekly losing streak.

ICE sugar futures for May delivery settled down 0.21 cents or 0.95% at 21.85 cents per lb. Prices lost 1.2% this week.

May London white sugar contract fell $1.10 or 0.17% at $638.90 a metric ton, coming off 1-month high recorded in the previous week. The contract added 2.5% for the week.

In recent times, the natural sweetener is hurt by the forecasts for rains in Brazil. The top producer's sugar belt is likely to receive rains by end of this week and early next week, but it is unclear if they will be enough to improve the crop outlook.

Dealers said expected rains in Centre-South Brazil during the last few days of the month could delay the start of the 2024/25 cane harvest.

Broker StoneX cut its projection for Brazil's cane crop to 602 million tons from 622 million tons.

Last week, Fitch Solutions report suggested that the decreased sugarcane plantings in key Indian states, alongside an anticipated reduction in Brazil's centre-south region production for the 2024/25 season, are supporting sugar prices. It added, however, that current strong production out of Brazil is capping sugar's gains.

Fitch report contradicts a recent forecast by India's trade body that suggested improvement in country's sugarcane production. The Indian Sugar and Bioenergy Manufacturers Association Wednesday raised its forecast for India's sugarcane production in the 2023-24 marketing year (that began on Oct 1) by 2.9% to 34 MMT from January's forecast of 33.05 MMT. Higher sugarcane production likely means higher refined sugar production, depending on how much of that sugarcane is converted into ethanol.

A recent series of forecast by global industry observers painted a supply glut scenario. On Tuesday, Unica reported that Brazil's Center-South sugar output in the second half of February was 16,000 MT, up from zero in the year-earlier period. The sugar output so far in the 2023-24 marketing year rose 26% on year to 42.181 MMT. Unica also said it expects 28 mills in the Center-South region to resume production in the first half of March after their off-season pause, which would be more than the year-earlier figure of 10 reopening mills in that period.

Forecaster Maxar Technologies said that moderate rain is expected in Brazil's sugar-growing regions over the next five days, which fueled long liquidation in sugar futures.

Meanwhile, the global sugar deficit is expected to widen to 788,000 tons in the 2024/25 year, meaning supplies will remain tight and prices are likely to stay high, analyst Green Pool said in its initial forecast for the crop year.

The European Union reached a provisional agreement on Wednesday to grant Ukrainian food producers including sugar growers tariff-free access to its markets until June 2025.

Broker hEDGEpoint Global Markets cut its forecast for Brazil's Centre-South new sugarcane crop to 605 million tons from 615 million tons, citing drier than normal weather.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data on showed speculators have reduced 5,465 contracts to their net long position in raw sugar to 8,011 lots.

Improvement in weather conditions in the sugar cane growing region as a key challenge is a big bearish factor for prices. Overall impact of improved weather condition is: rise in output and hence, the availability of sugar. Several industry reports including Unica, have pegged a sharp rise in Brazilian sugar production. That should help cut global deficit prospect. However, the drought conditions in growing region such as Thailand remains a concern. Traders have once again altered their price view to bearish. Analysts are forced to readjust their production estimates and availability of the sweetener. Yet, the bullish price pattern remains intact though funds have decided to cut their long position. A clarity on production is necessary before taking a fresh bet.

For Monday, support for the May Sugar contract is at 21.66 cents and 21.46 cents, with resistance at 22.14 cents and 22.42 cents.

(By Commoditiescontrol Bureau: 09820130172)

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