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ICE FCOJ Review: Rallies As Traders Increase Freeze Premium

March frozen concentrated orange juice futures rallied nearly 4% Wednesday as temperatures began to fall and Florida growers brace for some of the coldest temperatures of the winter.

Nearby March FCOJ on ICE Futures U.S. rose 285 points to settle at 75.40 cents a pound. May added 275 points to end at 78.80 cents.

Much of the citrus belt will see readings in the 20s and low 30s Fahrenheit Thursday morning, making it likely that at least some of the orange crop will sustain damage, analysts said.

Much of Florida is under a hard freeze warning until 9 a.m. EST Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

"There's no cloud cover, the winds are light and we're going to see 20s pushing into central and southern Florida. It's just a matter of how long it's going to last," said James Cordier, analyst and founder of OptionSellers.com in Tampa.

A hard freeze capable of killing crops occurs when temperatures fall to 27 degrees Fahrenheit or less for four or more hours.

The NWS warnings said such conditions are possible well into central and southern areas of the citrus belt.

The news took March FCOJ futures to nearly two-week highs, though some of those gains were pared by the closing bell.

Some traders were not convinced the cold snap will produce widespread crop damage, however, and may have used the rally as a selling opportunity, a broker said.

Thomas Downs, a meteorologist at Weather 2000, said a killing freeze is likely north of the Orlando area, but southern areas, where most of the commercial orange groves are located, should see only isolated pockets of damaging cold. Low-lying areas will be particularly vulnerable.

FCOJ open interest rose 38 contracts to total 28,381, ICE reported.

Futures volume was estimated at 3,028 contracts traded, with 877 calls and 455 put options traded.

-By Tom Sellen, Dow Jones Newswires; 913-322-5177; tom.sellen@dowjones.com


 

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