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Coffee futures dive, despite 'unexpected' drop in Brazilian exports

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Coffee futures fell, despite data showing an "unexpected" dip in Brazilian exports last month, as weather forecasters injected a little extra rain into the outlook for the South American country.

Arabica coffee futures for December dropped 3.1% to 127.00 cents a pound in late deals in New York, while in London the November robusta coffee lot fell by 1.8% to $1,971 a tonne.

The declines were attributed to improved expectations for rains in major coffee-growing areas of Brazil, the top producing country, where dryness has raised concerns for ongoing blossoming process.

"It's looking a little bit wetter in Brazil" for next week, said Carlos Mera, senior commodity analyst at Rabobank, if adding that rainfall prospects remained "well below what we would like to see".

'Usually a strong month'

However, the price drop defied data overnight from Cecafe, the Brazilian coffee exporters' group, showing overall coffee shipments down 11.5% month on month at 2.30m bags in September - a time of year when volumes are typically increasing, with the boost to supplies from the country's harvest.

"September has always been considered a strong month," said Nelson Carvalhaes, the Cecafe president.

The export number - depressed by declines in arabica, robusta and industrial coffee shipments - fell well short of Cecafe's forecast last month of a 20% rise in volumes last month from the August total.

Indeed, Mr Carvalhaes termed the September export drop, which equated to 25% on a year on year basis, as "rather unexpected", saying that it reflected a weaker harvest this year, and a reluctance by producers to sell at current price levels.

He added that the weak result for September made it "very difficult to predict" Brazilian exports ahead.

'Something will have to happen'

Mr Mera told he was not surprised by the Cecafe number, given other signals stemming from the Brazilian coffee export market, and underlined growers' reluctance to accept current prices.

Importing countries, meanwhile, retained a cushion of substantial stocks, further information on which will be revealed, for the US, on Monday.

However, he forecast that while this situation may last another two or three months, the stand-off between buyers and sellers looked likely to end next year, to bring Brazilian beans to market.

"Something will have to happen, either the farmer becoming willing to accept a low market price, or some buyers will have to pay enough to attract coffee from Brazil."

By Mike Verdin

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