Cocoa rises after arrest of Ivory Coast strongman

NEW YORK: Cocoa prices rose Monday after opposition forces captured the former president of the Ivory Coast. That nation is one of the world's largest cocoa producers.

Cocoa rose $48, or 1.6 percent, to 3,022 per metric ton on Monday. Forces stormed the bunker where Laurent Gbagbo had been hiding after refusing to hand over the presidency to the internationally recognized winner Alassane Outtara.

Outtara called for an export ban on cocoa in mid-January in an effort to force his rival to step down. That sent prices up at the time.

The threat of a security vacuum in the country and more violence likely kept prices high Monday, said Tom Mikulski, senior market strategist with Lind-Waldock.

"There's going to continue to be violence in that region probably for the foreseeable future," he said.

In other trading, oil for May delivery fell $2.87, or 2.5 percent, to settle at $109.92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi appeared to accept a cease-fire plan with rebel forces. That increased the likelihood that Libyan crude oil would return to world markets soon

The International Monetary Fund also lowered its outlook for U.S. economic growth to 2.8 percent, largely as a result of higher gas prices.

Other energy contracts fell, as a result. Heating oil fell 6.72 cents to settle at $3.2525 per gallon. Natural gas rose 6.7 cents to $4.108 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In May agriculture contracts, wheat rose 0.75 cents to $7.9825 a bushel, corn rose 8 cents to $7.76 a bushel, while soybeans fell 23.75 cents to $13.685 a bushel.

Most metal prices fell. Gold for June delivery fell $6 to settle at $1,468.10 an ounce. May copper fell 4.15 cents to settle at $4.46 a pound.

July platinum fell $19.30 to $1,792.80 an ounce. June palladium fell $5.95 to $788.25 an ounce. May silver was one of the lone winners. It rose 0.4 cents to $40.612 an ounce. - AP

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