My Experiences Trading Coffee, Cocoa And Orange Juice Commodity Futures Contracts And Options

COFFEE futures and options are certainly filled with action. Long haul and day trading coffee can be very exhilarating. Support and resistance points can work very well. Cocoa and orange juice are best traded for the long haul. The liquidity in all three is limited, but still enough to move in and out with your dignity.For about $2800 of account margin you can control a 37,500 pound contract of Coffee worth about $45,000. A 1 cent move equals $375. (example: a move from 120 to 121)When the coffee market is motivated, it can rip through support and resistance points easily. Stops usually work well but slippage is always possible with the NYBOT. Coffee futures and options trade for a very short time daily. (9:15-12:30am EST) The opening indications are usually wrong. Many times the market indications have suggested small moves in one direction. When it opened, the reality was a large move the opposite way.Look to the LIFFE London Futures Market for movements in the coffee, sugar and cocoa market overnight. You can go online for delayed quotes. These quotes are based on European and African pricing situations. They may not apply directly to our trading in the U.S, but are a rough overnight guide.Coffee has traded as low as 40c a pound in 2001 and as high as 337 in 1977. Most of the time coffee seems to be in a holding pattern followed by short bursts in one direction. Unless you are already positioned, these sharp moves are difficult to get on board once they begin. You must have faith in your analysis to hold and sit tight.In the past, coffee has made tremendous up move spikes. These kind of moves can make you a lot of money if traded well. Brazil is the country to watch for supply and demand problems. However, the quality of their coffee is not high enough for the contract specifications. Still, a freeze or a disruption could still send prices flying.COCOACocoa futures and options also trade on the NYBOT. Cocoa is not as volatile as coffee. Novices often trade cocoa because it’s relatively liquid and doesn’t have a big margin requirement. The market usually doesn’t make large movements, but don’t underestimate its potential. Various political forces in unstable areas of the Ivory Coast and West Coast Africa can cause cocoa prices to rise or fall sharply overnight.For about $1200 you can control 10 metric tons of Cocoa worth about $16,000. A 100 point move equals $1000. (example: 1600 to 1700)Cocoa has traded as low as $800 a ton in 2000 and as high as $5300 in the mid 1970’s. A move of three hundred to five hundred dollars a ton is considered good. ($3,000-$5,000) Cocoa is not a great day trading vehicle. There are better markets for day trading out there.Cocoa options are slightly difficult to enter and exit. A five to ten point bid and ask difference is the norm. Best to put in a resting order near the theoretical value for a fair price.Cocoa has short trading hours. (8:00AM -11:50AM) This makes it the first commodity to open in the morning. For those of you who sleep late, choose another commodity. Most of the big cocoa moves and the best prices occur right at the opening.ORANGE JUICEOrange juice is a freeze oriented market. There was a time in the 1980’s when January freezes were like clockwork. Traders would load up on positions in the late fall looking for the freeze. Then in normal fashion, the market changed.For about $2200 you can control 15,000 pounds of Orange Juice worth about $30,000. A full 10 point move equals $1500. (example: 210 to 220)Juice prices have been as low as 32 cents a pound in 1971, and as high as $2.20 in 1977. The high occurred when a devastating ice storm hit Florida.Up until a few years ago, orange juice had been in a relentless bear market for a decade. It certainly paid its dues in the 1990’s. It was an excellent option writing market during this time. After these major lows, juice went on to make historic highs in the 2000’s. The juice news kept getting worse as crop after crop got hurt beyond recovery. A freeze in Florida can make the market go wild. But recently, hurricanes have had more impact than freezes.Orange juice has limited day trading potential due to liquidity problems. Though, when it’s active, day trading is possible. The juice market is usually best traded using long term positions. The market trends well and often reaches price objectives. It also tracks well with the TimeLine.It’s an interesting point that Florida oranges are used in juice, while California oranges are used more as fruit. Thus, a bad California orange freeze may have little effect on the juice market. The other major supplier of orange juice is Brazil. One must be vigilant of weather and crop size of both the Brazilian and U.S. markets.Recently juice prices have had a great run from 54 cents in July of 2004 to $2.10 in December of 2006. This was a $23,000 move for every contract held. During this rally the normal declines ran about 20-25 cents. Some position traders like to add to positions on each similar decline. This can be an effective strategy for a long haul trade.(Rather than buying break-outs)Orange Juice options are fairly illiquid but can be traded effectively. Expect fill reports to be slow, but the executions are generally fair when the market is active. Just keep in mind that you are trading on the NYBOT market. (NY)Good Trading!There is substantial risk of loss trading futures and options and may not be suitable for all types of investors. Only risk capital should be used.

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