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Asia Softs-China demand worries hurt rubber; coffee premiums strong
July 1, 2013 / 5:11 AM / 4 years ago

Asia Softs-China demand worries hurt rubber; coffee premiums strong

* TOCOM rubber faces resistance at 250 yen/kg

* Coffee, sugar premiums firm

* Butter ratios at highest since 2009

By Lewa Pardomuan

SINGAPORE, July 1 (Reuters) - Slowing economic growth in main rubber consumer China could keep Tokyo futures capped this week, while Asian demand for robusta will help premiums stay at multi-month highs, dealers said on Monday.

High refining margins will highlight the sugar market, where Thai millers have been producing more whites to meet demand ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan later in July. In cocoa, butter ratios will hold at a four-year peak.

A weaker yen initially sent the most active December rubber contract on Tokyo Commodity Exchange to a high of 239 yen a kg, its strongest since June 21. The contract later dropped back as concerns about China resurfaced.

China’s official purchasing managers’ index slipped to 50.1 in June from 50.8 in May, a survey showed on Monday, reinforcing worries about tepid growth in the second quarter.

“I can’t expect to see much demand from China,” said Gu Jiong, an analyst at Yutaka Shoji Co in Tokyo, who pegged resistance at 250 yen a kg.

“But I heard that stocks in Qingdao are decreasing. It can still support the price in this low level,” said Gu.

Inventory in China’s bonded warehouses have been estimated by dealers at 300,000 to 350,000 tonnes. Stocks at Qingdao makes up the bulk of China’s rubber stocks, but the quantity is not disclosed to the public.

Demand from Asian roasters will stir up the robusta market, although prices in London seem unable to defy pressure from arabica futures in New York, which last month plunged to the weakest since mid-2009 due to a large Brazilian off-year crop.

Robusta is either blended with arabica beans for lower-cost brewed coffee or processed into instant coffee.

Robusta premiums in second-largest producer Indonesia could rise above the $200 quoted last week, their highest since early 2012, as excessive rains disrupted deliveries from plantations.

“It doesn’t make sense for robusta to stay at high levels when there’s so much pressure on arabica,” Joyce Liu, an investment analyst at Phillip Futures.

“But robusta is still more supported because of an increase in demand. More and more Asians like to drink coffee, and they tend to go for robustas.”

SUGAR, COCOA

In the sugar market, white-over-raws premiums, which measure refining profitability, could hold at $140 a tonne this week, up from $115 earlier in the year. Thai millers have already been remelting raw sugar into whites to take advantage of high refining margins.

Cocoa butter may trade at their highest ratios since 2009, above 2.0 times London futures , with a plan by Archer Daniels Midland Co to sell its cocoa division creating concerns about supplies in coming months.

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