LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - London cocoa futures on ICE were higher on Friday, boosted by technically-driven buying and a diminished crop outlook in Ivory Coast.
* May London cocoa was up 7 pounds, or 0.5 percent, at 1,533 pounds a tonne at 1116 GMT with the market edging back up towards a 2-1/2 month high of 1,543 pounds reached on both Wednesday and Thursday.
* Dealers said the market’s recent run-up had been fuelled largely by technical influences although there continued to be some concern about dry weather in top grower Ivory Coast.
* “Momentum remains on the upside. To confirm the outlook, prices need to break 1,550 (pounds a tonne),” said Sucden Financial technical analyst Geordie Wilkes.
* Cocoa exporters and pod counters in Ivory Coast have revised down their forecast for this year’s main harvest because of hot weather and a lack of rain.
* Dealers said weekly Commitments of Traders data, to be issued later on Friday, should show a further decline in the speculative net short position in London cocoa.
* May New York cocoa rose $9, or 0.4 percent, to 2,155 a tonne.
* May raw sugar was down 0.07 cent, or 0.5 percent, at 13.51 cents per lb.
* The contract was still on track for a weekly gain of around 1.7 percent.
* Dealers said the market remained on the defensive due to excess global supplies although there continued to be sporadic short covering rallies.
* “The investor short position is probably still quite large so these events (short covering rallies) will remain a feature of trading for another week or so,” said Commonwealth Bank of Australia analyst Tobin Gorey.
* May white sugar fell $0.90, or 0.25 percent, to $362.00 a tonne.
* May arabica coffee was down a marginal 0.05 cent, or less than 0.1 percent, at $1.2085 per lb. The second month dipped to a low of $1.1855 on Thursday, its weakest since Dec. 12.
* Dealers said the prospect of a huge crop in top producer Brazil this year remained a key bearish factor.
* Brazilian coffee farmers see current prices as insufficient to cover costs and have no intention of selling at the moment, despite a looming record crop, producers and market experts said.
* May robusta coffee was up $2, or 0.1 percent, at $1,761 a tonne. (Reporting by Nigel Hunt; Editing by Edmund Blair)