Market Featured in `Trading Places' Is in Decline. Blame Florida

(Bloomberg) -- What would the Duke brothers make of this? Interest in frozen concentrated orange juice futures is ebbing away, and Florida is to blame.

FCOJ is a small, niche market; some days, just a few hundred futures are bought and sold on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. But it can claim a place in the popular imagination that few other aspects of Wall Street can match, owing to the famous pit-trading scene near the end of the 1983 movie "Trading Places" where the Dukes attempt to corner the market.

The success of the Dukes’ fictitious scheme hinges on whether Florida’s orange crop has been damaged. In real life, it’s been hammered by years of disease. In October through December, data showed Hurricane Irma had inflicted even more woe, helping to drive production to a 73-year low.

Market Featured in `Trading Places' Is in Decline. Blame Florida

Mirroring that trend is the slide in open interest, or the number of outstanding futures contracts. That’s because fewer people want to use futures to hedge the Sunshine State’s shrinking harvest, said Russ Pierson, a broker at Basic Commodities in Winter Park, Florida.

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