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Traders Pile In to Cocoa Options With Futures Soaring to Records - BLOOMBERG

FEBRUARY 12, 2024

BY  David MarinoBloomberg News

, ICE, Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Traders piled in to buy cocoa options this week as futures surged to record highs on concern global supplies will be tight after drought and disease ravaged crops in top West African producers. 

Implied volatility — a key measure of options costs — doubled since mid-January, with an especially high premium being paid for calls protecting against higher prices over the next couple of months. Soaring raw-material costs already are weighing on chocolate makers and may force Hershey Co. to raise prices, the company’s CEO said Thursday. 

Read More: Hershey Says ‘Historic’ Cocoa Inflation Could Push Prices Higher

Poor weather conditions have been a drag on output from Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world’s largest producers. Even if conditions improve in the next season, supply is unlikely to make a quick recovery: new trees take years to bear beans and West African farmers still need higher incomes to invest in their fields.

Some large speculators may have missed out on the last leg of the rally. Money managers cut net-long positions in futures and options to the lowest level in 17 weeks in the seven days ending Tuesday, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed. Futures rose 9.6% since then.

Read More: AG CFTC: Net Bullish NYC Cocoa Bets Cut to 17-Week Low

  • On Friday, 1,000 contracts of July $6,800/$7,000 call spreads traded, opening a new position that would benefit from at least a further 24% rally
  • Also, 2,000 contracts of May $5,500/$6,000 call spreads traded, possibly rolling a position to a higher strike as futures climbed to settle at $5,599 a ton
  • Further out in time, put options were getting bid up as traders positioned for the rally to end and prices retreat
    • September and December puts protecting against drops below $4,000 or even $3,000 were among the most actively traded contracts
  • This story was produced with the assistance of Bloomberg Automation

--With assistance from Ilena Peng.


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