Cocoa, one of the most popular soft commodities, has been surging to start off 2012 after a rough end to last year. From their high point in March, cocoa futures endured a drop of more than 41% through the end of 2011. But this year is already looking up, with futures up approximately 7.6% through the first half of January. In fact, the only commodity to turn in a better performance over the two week period was orange juice. The big story for cocoa last year came from the Ivory Coast which suffered through a civil war that put significant pressures on the production from the world’s most significant cocoa nation. But this year seems to be a different story, and the start of a trend that may help traders rake in some healthy gains [see also Ultimate Guide To Cocoa Investing].
Thursday started off as the first solid day of the week, but as the trading session progressed with little to no information on the U.S. debt deal, major equities gave back their gains to finish yet another day in the red. As we draw ever closer to the August 2nd deadline, many analysts have begun to worry that both sides are deadlocked, and with a Republican House and a Democratic Senate, that will make it next to impossible to pass any legislation unless one side gives way to the other. While it seems highly unlikely that the U.S. will default on its debts, it is still a possibility at this point in time, a situation that could put the already beleaguered economy into an even bigger hole.
Today saw equities finish mixed as the Senate rejected a House GOP plan to cut the budget and pass an increase to the debt ceiling. Though this was an expected move, it certainly did not help markets, as investors continually wait for the government to make tangible progress on the debt crisis before the looming deadline. Friday’s trading session also saw oil touch the $100 per barrel mark before finishing just under the triple digit level, likely boosted by strong earnings reports. Likewise, gold had a solid day, finishing above the $1,600 per ounce mark on continued uncertainty over debt. The majority of commodities saw a strong day as well; over five separate futures contracts posted gains of 1% or more. But among all of the winners and losers on the day, two stood out in particular, due to various supply reports from across the globe.
Most equities took a crushing blow today, as weak data led to downward pressure on all of the major benchmarks. Though many commodities were able to stand their ground during today’s sell-off, like gold which gained 0.8% to sit at just under $1,550 per ounce, others were not so lucky. After having several strong days in succession, crude oil closed out its shortened trading week by dropping 2.3% to $96.4 per barrel. Today derailed the market strength that had been persisting since the end of June, when investors and analysts started to gain glimpses of optimism for an economic recovery. But with earnings season kicking off next week, data from hundreds of market-leading companies could turn stocks around, or send them spiraling further down to start the second half of the year.
The commodity cocoa, refers to cocoa beans, which are the dried seeds from the, Theobroma Cacao, or cocoa tree. The tree is native to the Americas, specifically the Southern Hemisphere, and has been a major part of the area’s history, though now the vast majority of the trees exist in West Africa. In fact, cocoa beans were used as a common currency in many areas prior to the Spanish conquest. By the time the 17th century rolled around, the beans were in widespread use to make chocolate drinks, becoming one of the most popular beverages of the time. Now, cocoa is used all over the world to create chocolate, and other products such as cocoa butter. Many consume cocoa beans because of the health benefits associated with them, which are thought to have positive effects on cardiovascular health. As an investment, cocoa has become a popular commodity for investors looking … See the full story here