March 5, 2018 / 12:35 PM / 7 months ago

SOFTS-NY cocoa at 15-month high on fund buying, Ivorian crop

LONDON, March 5 (Reuters) - New York cocoa futures rose on Monday to a 15-month high, helped by speculative buying amid expectations for a smaller crop from top grower Ivory Coast, while raw sugar also edged up.

COCOA

* May New York cocoa was up $25, or 1.1 percent, at $2,338 a tonne at 1207 GMT, after hitting $2,348 a tonne, the highest for the second position since December 2016.

* Prices were supported by further speculative buying after gains on Friday, dealers said, although they noted volumes were thin and the market was technically oversold.

* Speculators raised their net long position in cocoa to a 1-1/2-year high in the week to Feb. 27, exchange data showed.

* Sentiment was also boosted by signs that top grower Ivory Coast is on course to produce less cocoa that previously expected.

* “There are some supply concerns out there revolving around perceived dryness,” said one dealer. “Physical differentials are very high, so there’s obviously a scramble for cocoa.”

* About 20,000 tonnes of beans were delivered to Ivory Coast ports between Feb. 26 and March 4, down from 40,000 tonnes during the same week last season.

* May London cocoa was up 21 pounds, or 1.3 percent, at 1,662 pounds a tonne, after climbing to 1,665 pounds, its highest in 3-1/2 months.

SUGAR

* May raw sugar was up 0.12 cents, or 0.9 percent, at 13.55 cents per lb.

* Prices tumbled on Friday as the speculative short-covering rally that had lifted the market off a 6-1/2-month low ran out of steam.

* Prices recovered some of those losses on Monday, with dealers pointing to light short-covering following the slump.

* Exchange data also showed speculators boosted their bearish position in sugar to a four-week high in the week to Feb. 27.

* However, dealers said the gains were fragile and the market remained vulnerable to selling, as producers were still under-hedged.

* Focus also turned back to India as strong output boosted expectations for a larger-than-expected crop and weaker domestic prices as a result, dealers said.

* “That could cause the government to take action quickly,” Marex Spectron said in a report. “And the only action which would really stabilize the domestic market would be exports.”

* May white sugar rose $2.60, or 0.7 percent, to $365.80 a tonne.

COFFEE

* May robusta coffee fell $3, or 0.2 percent, to $1,748 a tonne.

* May arabica coffee was down 0.70 cent, or 0.6 percent, at $1.2150 per lb. (Reporting by Ana Ionova Editing by Mark Potter)

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