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Java Trades Up--Coffee Goes Online

Tuesday, 30 Jan 2007 | 2:42 PM ET
AP

Coffee and computers: the modern business of both erupted simultaneously in the 1990s, born in Washington, Oregon and Northern California -- and riding out to conquer the rest of America and the world. So perhaps it's fitting that these two symbols of the pre-millennial new economy should come together at one nexus point: early next month, the trade in java is going electronic. And we don't mean the kind brewed by Sun Microsystems.

Speaking from the The New York Board of Trade (NYBOT), coffee über-trader John Connolly spoke to CNBC's Bill Griffeth about the business of the beans.

Coffee prices have been at a base "around the 115 area" and should "hold for quite some time," the trader predicted, pointing to "some funds" trading in coffee at that price range. In days to come, he sees coffee trading at 116.5 at the futures level, "creeping" up to the 120s over the next few weeks.

Connolly -- the "cover boy" of the current issue of Trader Monthly -- told "Power Lunch" that even a conservative player can benefit from the rapidity of electronic trade. The ability to swiftly react to factors like an announcement of "frost in Brazil" is good "risk management, in one form or another."

International trade in coffee futures began in the Age of Exploration and the 16th Century's earliest markets -- and is one of the last commodities to trade electronically. But Connolly opines that smart traders "go with the flow, adapt and move on."

The pegging of the beloved beans to the technological marketplace "is going to help" drive trade, he maintains, developing "more interest" in a cyber-fueled society. Plus, Connolly notes, it will enable "early birds" who start tracking the boards "at 7 am." And what could attract such dawn risers more than...coffee.

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Kenny Polcari