White Sugar #5 Futures Market News and Commentary
Mar NY world sugar #11 (SBH20) on Tuesday closed down by -0.16 (-1.31%), and Dec ICE London white sugar #5 (SWZ19) closed down by -0.40 (-0.12%). Sugar prices retreated Tuesday on weakness in crude oil and also in the Brazilian real. Crude prices fell more than -5% Tuesday, which is negative for ethanol prices and may encourage Brazil's sugar mills to divert more cane crushing toward sugar production rather than ethanol production, thus boosting sugar supplies. Mar NY sugar posted a 2-week high and Dec London sugar climbed to a 1-month high Monday after crude oil prices surged to a 3-3/4 month high. A slump in the Brazilian real to a 1-week low against the dollar Tuesday also pressured sugar prices since the weaker real encourages export selling by Brazil's sugar producers. In a potentially bullish factor for NY sugar prices, last Friday's weekly Commitment of Traders (COT) data showed that funds boosted their net-short position by 29,486 contracts in the week ended Sep 10 to 218,896 contracts, a record high in data going back to 2006, which could provide fuel for a short-covering rally. Another bullish factor for sugar was last Tuesday's data from Unica showing that sugar production in Brazil's Center-South region in the 2019/20 marketing year through August fell -4.85 y/y to 17.971 MMT. Unica projects that increased ethanol output in Brazil will cut Brazil 2019/20 Center-South sugar production by -5.7% y/y to 25 MMT, a 14-year low. Mar NY sugar prices last Thursday posted a contract low and the nearest-futures contract (V19) dropped to an 11-1/2 month low on the outlook for robust sugar supplies to persist. The International Sugar Organization (ISO) last Monday said that a global sugar deficit for 2019/20 will be insufficient to erase huge global stockpiles since a "war on sugar" is hurting sugar consumption. ISO on Sep 2 said it sees global 2019/20 sugar production falling by -2.3% y/y to 172 MMT. ISO also cut its 2018/19 global sugar surplus estimate to +1.7 MMT from a previous estimate of +1.8 MMT and projected a 2019/20 global sugar deficit of -4.8 MMT. Concern about larger exports from India is undercutting sugar prices. India's government on Aug 28 approved extending sugar subsidies to subsidize exports of as much as 6 MMT of sugar in 2019/20, which is bearish for sugar prices since those exports will add to global sugar supplies. India is struggling to reduce near-record sugar ending stocks that are expected to be at 14.2 MMT on Oct 1, which is the start of the 2019/20 sugar season, and are expected to increase to 16.2 MMT at the start of the 2020/21 sugar season.