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Originally published Sunday, August 2, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Cocoa prices rise; El Niño weather, Ivory Coast elections behind increase

Beware chocoholics: Cocoa prices are on the march. Prices on the wholesale market recently jumped to their highest levels in 10 months. You can blame El Niño...

Beware chocoholics: Cocoa prices are on the march.

Prices on the wholesale market recently jumped to their highest levels in 10 months.

You can blame El Niño the next time prices in the vending machine climb.

Investors are betting the weather pattern could hurt production.

The market is also worried about upcoming elections in the Ivory Coast, a major cocoa producer.

Barclays Capital analysts recently forecast cocoa prices could jump all the way to an average $3,250 per ton in 2010.

Oh, sugar prices are rising, too.

Profit season

All those watery eyes and sniffling noses this allergy season flowed to the bottom lines of drugmakers. Schering-Plough's Clarinex, for example, earned $226 million during the second quarter, topping the $193 million estimate from BMO Capital Markets analyst Jack Blackstock.

Best places to be

Washington, D.C., and fast action usually don't go together. But economists say the city has navigated the downturn better than most states, and it will likely regain its lost jobs the quickest. Credit the federal government, where employment has been resilient in the face of big private-sector losses. Economists at IHS Global Insight predict the District's employment level will return to its heady pre-recession levels next year. They also point to Texas, where the energy industry has been relatively solid.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Michigan, reeling from the auto industry's collapse.

The Associated Press

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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