Who's faring best in the World Cup? Agricultural commodity investors have a claim to joining the likes of Brazil and the Netherlands as major winners.
Coffee prices rebounded strongly on Friday amid a market
stabilisation being attributed in part to the football tournament, which is
deemed to be adding positive pressure to prices of the likes of sugar and
Arabica coffee futures for September soared 4.2% to 176.20
cents a pound in late deals in New York, on course for their first close above
their 20-day moving average in well over a month.
The spot July contract was 4.2% higher at 174.05 cents a pound,
on track for its best close in June.
The gains were seen as reflecting in part technical factors,
after the September contract in the last session recovered from a four-month
low of 166.55 cents a pound to post only a marginally lower close.
Furthermore, there is talk that the Brazilian crop, hurt by
drought earlier this year, will indeed show considerable damage, more than that
foreseen by the likes of Mercon, which has forecast a 50.5m-bag crop.
"A lot of what we are hearing does point to a smaller crop,"
said Citigroup's Sterling Smith, who foresees Brazilian production coming in
below 45m bags.
'Lose some efficiency'
However, he also highlighted less pressure from producer
selling which, while reflecting somewhat crop concerns, appeared down to the distraction
of Brazil's World Cup too.
"The world Cup is going to be a factor. It attracts a lot of
attention," Mr Smith told Agrimoney.com.
"You probably lose some farm efficiency too, and some
movement efficiency" as the industry focuses on football rather than work.
"There has been concern about movement efficiency in sugar
and soybeans too."
Certainly, New York sugar futures have risen more than 7% in
the six sessions since June 12, the day the World Cup started, compared with a
2.3% drop in the previous six sessions.
Soybean futures, while down some 0.7% in Chicago, have
slowed their decline from more than 5% in the six sessions to June 12.
And the turnaround in the Brazilian cash market has been
even more marked.
"Brazilian basis rallied sharply this week, pricing them out
of the market," Kim Rugel at Benson Quinn Commodities said.
Coffee's change in price performance is in fact less marked,
with prices up 1.2% since the World Cup started, compared with a 1.5% rise in
the six preceding trading days.
'Not so far fetched'
"The idea of the World Cup having an impact on markets is
really not so far fetched," a London soft commodities investor, with considerable
experience of Brazil, told Agrimoney.com.
"They have what you might call a more liberated idea about
life, compared with the northern European protestant work ethic idea. They do
not have quite the same scruples about putting life first."
And Illinois-based crop scout Michael Cordonnier, who makes
frequent trips to South America, said, "certainly during a Brazil match,
everything stops. There is nobody on the street when Brazil plays".
There are factors beyond simple distraction to take into
For instance, in Cuiaba, the capital of Mato Grosso, Brazil's
top soybean producing state, officials have banned lorries from the main BR163
on the four days when it is hosting matches, and the days before and after too.
"That will cause traffic disruption," Mr Cordonnier told
Agrimoney.com, adding that the threat to drivers is real.
"If they are caught, face a fine, four points on their
driver's licence and forced to stay with their lorry for the rest of the
duration of the ban."
Four points is, after all, a significant amount. Just ask any fan of the English or Spanish football teams, who have none between them...