* Camden International says its 9 cocoa warehouses not damaged by storm
* Indonesia’s robusta production seen up 13 percent y/y
* Sugar seen heading lower as Brazil harvest continues (New throughout, updates prices; adds analyst comment, second byline/dateline)
By Marcy Nicholson and Clare Hutchison
NEW YORK/LONDON, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Arabica coffee futures turned lower on Tuesday, giving back the previous session’s gains, as many traders believed exchange stocks in U.S. East Coast warehouses were unscathed by Hurricane Sandy, one of the biggest storms ever to hit the region.
ICE cocoa futures briefly surged over 4 percent in what dealers called speculative activity. Raw sugar futures were slightly higher, with ample supplies continuing to cap upside potential.
Arabica coffee slipped, giving back gains made late in the previous session when fears emerged that the massive storm may have damaged some of the 400,000 60-kg bags of exchange stocks stored in the New York/New Jersey area.
Sandy roared ashore with fierce winds and heavy rain on Monday near the gambling resort of Atlantic City, New Jersey, forcing evacuations, shutting down transportation and interrupting the presidential campaign.
December arabica coffee futures settled down 4.45 cents, or 2.8 percent, at $1.5720 per lb. This is up a shade from the spot contract’s four-month intraday low on Monday of $1.5630.
“People were worried about ICE warehouses flooding, but now you get the sell-off. The market is acting like the coffee supplies are fine,” said Shawn Hackett of Hackett Financial Advisors in Florida.
A spokeswoman for ICE said there were as yet no warehouse reports on the situation.
An employee of Continental Terminals, which operates three exchange-certified coffee warehouses and five cocoa warehouses, said they were still awaiting reports from staff who were having difficulty getting to the warehouses because of downed trees and power lines. The New Jersey locations did not appear to have experienced flooding, he said.
One London-based broker noted that weather forecasts would need to be monitored over the coming days due to the risk of floods.
Cocoa warehouse keeper Camden International Commodities, which currently houses about 1.2 million bags in nine warehouses on the New Jersey side of the Port of Delaware River, said it had not seen any damage to stock.
“We went through all our warehouses this morning. We did not lose a bag,” said Steve Yeager, general manager of the New Jersey-based firm, adding the warehouses did not sustain any structural damage and there was no flooding.
A total of 4.154 million bags of cocoa are currently housed in ICE certified warehouses in the United States.
January robusta coffee futures finished down $32, or 1.6 percent, at $1,983 a tonne, after touching $1,980 intraday, the lowest level for the second-month since Sept. 6, as top producer Vietnam’s large crop weighed.
“Following last year’s record harvest in Vietnam, the world’s biggest producer of robusta, more and more observers expect this year’s crop to achieve a similarly high level,” Commerzbank said in a daily commodities note.
Cocoa futures in London and New York moved higher, holding above Monday’s two-week low, with the ICE market staging a brief rally when prices momentarily rose over 4 percent.
“We’re all a bit surprised by the move but there might be some pre-month-end window dressing ahead of tomorrow by speculators,” said Eric Sivry, head of agri-options brokerage at Marex Spectron.
ICE December cocoa futures settled up $40, or 1.7 percent, at $2,390 per tonne, after peaking at $2,457 earlier in the session, in heavy volume of more than 16,000 lots.
The contract found strong support at its 200-day moving average at $2,351, having reached a session low at $2,353.
“The weather market is over. There’s not really much to move the market, so on a short-term basis it’s just going to move technically,” Hackett said, referring to weather in the world’s top growing region West Africa.
Liffe March cocoa futures ended up 8 pounds, or 0.5 percent, at 1,541 pounds per tonne.
March sugar futures rose 0.15 cent, or 0.8 percent, to close at 19.56 cents a lb, remaining near Monday’s five-week low of 19.27 cents, with dealers eyeing the 2012/13 global surplus as Brazil reaches the tail-end of its harvest.
“There is no reason for the market to rally unless there is prolonged rain in Brazil. If the harvest goes well, we’ll see lower levels, but any short term decline will be supported around 18.50,” said a London-based broker, adding that trading volumes were down as Sandy paralysed New York and other major U.S. cities.
December white sugar on Liffe settled up 90 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $544.70 per tonne. (Additional reporting by Sarah McFarlane in London; Editing by William Hardy and Jim Marshall)