February 12, 2018 / 7:32 PM / in 6 months

SOFTS-ICE cocoa drops as investor-fueled advance stalls; sugar rises

(Updates throughout with market comment, closing prices; adds NEW YORK dateline)

NEW YORK/LONDON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Cocoa futures dropped on Monday as an investor-fueled rally gave out in the face of chart weakness, while raw sugar on ICE Futures U.S. edged higher on speculative short-covering.

COCOA

* May London cocoa on ICE settled down 29 pounds, or 1.95 percent, at 1,459 pounds per tonne.

* Pressure picked up after prices neared resistance at the 200-day moving average of around 1,500 pounds for a fourth of the last five sessions, dealers said.

* ICE May cocoa futures settled down $53, or 2.57 percent, at $2,007 per tonne per tonne, and tumbled to a two-week low of $1,991 in late-session trade.

* “This looks like a short-term top, and we closed poorly,” said a U.S. trader.

* Cocoa was also under pressure from weekly U.S. government data published after Friday’s close that showed speculators turned bullish on the commodity in the most recent reporting week, dealers said.

* A broadly bearish fundamental picture has gripped the cocoa market in spite of recent speculator buying, with a second consecutive global surplus forecast this season.

SUGAR

* March raw sugar settled up 0.06 cent, or 0.44 percent, at 13.73 cents per lb, as speculators bought back their bearish positions ahead of the spot contract’s expiry at end-February.

* March’s premium over May SBH8-K8 rose as high as 0.2 cent per lb and closed at 0.12 cent, indicating demand for nearby supplies.

* Dealers said this was partly due to expectations for less deliverable raw sugar amid reduced supplies from top grower Brazil and increased flows of Central American sugar to China.

* “The spread has strengthened mainly on what we suspect is fund and specs rolling of short positions - but also on trade buying, perhaps anticipating less deliverable sugar against (March) NY than normal,” said Nick Penney, senior trader at Sucden Financial.

* March white sugar settled up $1.40, or 0.4 percent, at $356.10 per tonne. Open interest was 9,280 lots as of Friday’s close, indicating a small delivery is likely when the contract expires on Tuesday.

* Ukraine’s exports of white beet sugar from September to January were 250,000 tonnes, down about 39 percent from the same period a year earlier, the producers’ union said.

COFFEE

* May arabica coffee settled down 0.3 cent, or 0.24 percent, at $1.235 per lb.

* May robusta coffee remained unchanged from the previous session at $1,769 per tonne.

* Costa Rica said it will lift a 30-year ban on planting robusta trees. (Reporting by Chris Prentice in New York and Ana Ionova in London, editing by David Evans and Rosalba O’Brien)

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