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Evening markets: juice ends week on sweet note

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Orange juice ended the week as it began it - in demand – to take the laurels among soft commodities on Friday, despite improving prospects for the US citrus crop.

Benchmark September orange juice ended 4.7% higher at 93.10 cents a pound, taking its gains for the week to 17%.

The performance appears to have been led by fund buying rather than fundamental factors.

Traders reported a large buy order on Monday. Meanwhile, the US Department of Agriculture on Friday added 1%, to 9.36m tonnes, to its estimate of America's orange crop for 2008-09.

The department added that, longer days of sunshine and adequate rainfall last month were "beneficial for fruit growth and tree foliage" in Florida, America's biggest citrus state.

"Next season's citrus crop was in good condition in well cared for groves," the USDA said in its latest crop production report.

Cane concerns

Other softs paled in comparison. Sugar managed a 0.17 cent rise to 17.24 cents a pound for New York's October contract amid reports of weather damage to China's cane crop.

London white sugar for August delivery added $4.0 to $444.9 a tonne.

Continuing talk of an El Nino weather pattern setting in helped London cocoa end £10 to the good at £1,710 a tonne for September delivery.

Nonetheless, its New York counterpart ended $1 lower at $2,640 a tonne.

Crude losses

On external markets, shares in Europe and New York eased a touch amid fears for negative surprises in the ongoing US quarterly results season.

Oil slipped below $60 a barrel, for New York's August contract, taking losses for the week to 10%, the market's worst performance since January.

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