COMMODITIES : Cocoa Futures Prices Move Sharply Higher

From Associated Press

Expectations of resumed price-support measures sent world cocoa futures prices soaring Tuesday on New York's Coffee, Sugar and Cocoa Exchange.

Elsewhere, silver futures rose sharply while gold also advanced; copper futures retreated; grains and soybeans were mixed; energy futures were higher; livestock and meat futures were mixed, and stock index futures were higher.

Cocoa futures rallied on U.S. and London exchanges on news that the International Cocoa Organization would hold a special meeting Jan. 13-15 to discuss a resumption of buffer-stock operations, said Judy Weissman Gaines, an analyst in New York with Shearson Lehman Bros.

Buffer-stock buying, a price-control method involving the removal of cocoa from the open market, was suspended in mid-May. Three previous meetings have failed to produce an agreement for restarting the operation.

"Without buffer-stock operations, world prices were likely to continue falling," Gaines said. "But with buffer-stock operations, there's a likelihood that world cocoa prices would begin to stabilize."

The contract for March delivery of cocoa settled $44 higher at $1,884 a metric ton.

Silver futures surged on New York's Commodity Exchange on foreign purchases sparked by the stronger dollar, analysts said.

"No. 1, it was an oversold market and No. 2, what we saw was probably some foreign buying coming into the market because it provided a safe haven from the weakness in their own currencies against the dollar," said Stephen W. Platt, an analyst in Chicago with Dean Witter Reynolds.

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