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Commodity Futures Surge After Storm

From Reuters

The aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina jostled the commodities markets for a second day Tuesday as the historic storm disrupted U.S. oil and gas output, grain exports, coffee storage and cotton production along the Gulf of Mexico.

The Reuters/Jefferies CRB index of 19 commodity futures markets hit a 25-year high of 333.45 before unofficially closing up 2.46% at 331.19.

With almost all crude oil and natural gas production shut down in the gulf, crude oil futures for October delivery settled up $2.61 at $69.81 per barrel in New York trading.

Nymex September gasoline futures also rose to a record high, peaking at $2.50 a gallon before settling at $2.4745 for a gain of 41.39 cents.

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Cotton futures settled at three-week highs after Katrina battered fields in Alabama and Mississippi.

The New York Board of Trade’s December cotton contract closed up 2.32%, or 1.14 cents, at 50.28 cents a pound, its highest settlement since Aug. 10.

Losses in the cotton crop sparked heavy buying by speculators and investment funds.

Coffee prices jumped higher on buying by speculators and coffee roasters after Katrina damaged warehoused supplies in New Orleans.

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The New York Board of Trade’s arabica coffee futures contract for December delivery rose 2.25 cents, or 2.3%, to 98 cents a pound.

“We had some spec and roaster buying close to that 95 level [in December], and we are just waiting for any assessment on those warehouses in New Orleans,” said Boyd Cruel, an analyst with Alaron Trading.

A leading U.S. roaster said assessing damage to coffee storage and production facilities in New Orleans would take time.

“It is premature to assess what impact the hurricane had for our employees and also our facilities and business,” said Lars Atorf of Procter & Gamble Co., the maker of the Folgers coffee brand.

Soybean prices at the Chicago Board of Trade closed higher as traders bet that rains from the remnants of Katrina damaged some Midwest soybean fields, which are in their final development stages.

Soybean futures for November delivery were up 5 cents at $6.11 per bushel.

“There is a little belief that the hurricane took away more bushels than it added. We may have lost 5 [million to] 8 million bushels,” said Don Roose, president and analyst for research firm U.S. Commodities.

That would be a tiny portion of this year’s crop, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture has projected at 2.79 billion bushels.

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The United States, the world’s largest exporter of corn, soybeans and wheat, ships about 70% of its grains from facilities at the storm-battered gulf.


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