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Brazil coffee producer irrigates his plants on his farm
Reuters / Paulo Whitaker
Brutal Brazilian heat has driven coffee futures sharply higher.

The clear message of the markets in 2014: Coffee is king

By Matt Phillips

The first half of the year is pretty much over and one thing is clear: Coffee is king.

Thanks to drought in Brazil, the world’s largest producer, coffee futures have soared, making your morning jolt one of the best things you could have speculated on so far in 2014.

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Hog prices are also high on this list, as disease has ravaged US pork producers. Argentina and Ukraine also look like they’ve done well on paper, but buyer beware: Those indexes were boosted higher by sharp currency devaluations. Nickel prices rose on Russia/Ukraine unrest. (Russia is the second-largest producer of this key ingredient for stainless steel.) Prices for US feeder cattle—the young animals that are sold to feed lots to be fattened for slaughter—also jumped, due to drought in the southern Great Plains, which cut herd sizes.

Excitement over the Indian elections pushed stocks higher in the world’s largest democracy. Meanwhile, signs of a return to stability under the muscular leadership of former military chief Fatah al-Sisi seemed to give Egyptian stocks a lift, after years of unrest. Labor strikes in South Africa, a key palladium producer, drove prices of the precious metal up.