April 12, 2017 / 12:31 PM / 3 years ago

SOFTS-Cocoa falls on declining chocolate demand, sugar rises

LONDON, April 12 (Reuters) - Cocoa futures weakened on Wednesday as a decline in demand for chocolate confectionary hurt sentiment, while firmer technicals helped raw sugar recover further.

COCOA

* July London slipped 21 pounds, or 1.31 percent, to 1,582 pounds a tonne by 1206 GMT, while July New York cocoa fell $27, or 1.36 percent, to $1,961 a tonne.

* Both markets made gains on Tuesday in a moderate recovery after prices hit four-week lows recently.

* European grind data showed on Wednesday a small increase of 1.1 percent from the same period last year to 339,485 tonnes.

* “It’s coming so close to expectations that the figure is not going to be market moving,” said Jonathan Parkman, head of agriculture at Marex Spectron.

* However, sentiment was dampened by figures, released in Barry Callebaut’s earnings, showing the chocolate confectionary market shrunk by 2.1 percent in the six months to February.

* “That is weaker than I expected and I would suggest it has had a slightly negative effect on people’s perceptions,” Parkman said.

* However, Barry Callebaut reported its first-half net profit rose more than expected as outsourcing contracts and gourmet products helped it offset weakness in confectionery.

* Worries about ample supplies continued to weigh, with number two grower Ghana outlining plans on Tuesday to introduce hand pollination of cocoa seedlings and begin irrigating farms in a bid to boost output to 1 million tonnes by 2020.

SUGAR

* May raw sugar gained 0.11 cent, or 0.66 percent, to 16.83 cents a lb.

* The contract closed higher on Tuesday, after falling about 2.5 percent during the session. Dealers said technicals continued to drive Wednesday’s trade, although volumes remained thin.

* May white sugar rose $2.1, or 0.43 percent, to $486.30 per tonne.

* Open interest on the May contract fell by 5,021 lots to 14,391 lots by Tuesday’s close. The contract expires on Thursday, with dealers anticipating a small delivery.

* The premium of the front-month white sugar contract over its raw sugar equivalent rose to its highest since late April 2016, reflecting increasingly attractive refining margins.

COFFEE

* May arabica coffee gained 0.20 cent, or 0.14 percent, to $1.4040 per lb.

* May robusta slipped $11, or 0.51 percent, to $2,165 a tonne.

* Brazil exported 2.36 million 60-kg bags of green coffee in March, well below the 2.77 million bags reported a year earlier despite a larger crop, exporter association Cecafé said on Tuesday. (Reporting by Ana Ionova; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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