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Cocoa futures extend losses, after weak North American grind data

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Cocoa futures edged lower on the news that North American cocoa processing was lower than expected.

Cocoa processors in the North America reported grinding 117,588 tonnes of beans in the last three months of 2016, down 1.1% year-on-year, to a four-and-a-half-year low.

Cocoa grind figures are a proxy for consumer demand for cocoa powder and butter.

European grind data earlier in the week also missed expectations.

But processing figures in Asia, released on Thursday, beat expectations.

March cocoa futures in New York were down 1.4% in early deals, at $2,135 a tonne, extending the sharp losses of the previous session.

Currency effect

Cocoa prices tumbled late in the session on Thursday, despite the strong Asian grind data.

Carlos Mera, senior analyst at Rabobank, saw the sell-off driven by a sharp down-turn in the euro, after the European Central Bank announced that it stood ready to step up asset purchases if inflation does not reach target levels.

"The European industry is the largest consumer of coca," he said to Agrimoney.

"If the euro drops the purchasing power drops."

Good West African demand

Mr Mera said that prospects for the cocoa mid-crop were good, thanks to the mild harmattan wind.

But he said that if prices remain low it would likely spur increased demand.

"We're expecting demand to potentially rise towards the middle [of 2017] given the low prices."

By William Clarke

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