April 3, 2018 / 5:52 PM / in 6 months

SOFTS-NY cocoa slumps below 1-1/2-year top, arabica up from 9-mth low

(Rewrites throughout, updates prices; adds trader and analyst comments, adds NEW YORK to dateline)

NEW YORK/LONDON, April 3 (Reuters) - New York cocoa futures on ICE took their biggest one-day tumble in nearly 11 months on Tuesday, falling sharply below the prior session’s 1-1/2 year high on profit-taking, while arabica coffee prices turned higher after setting a nine-month low.

COCOA

* May New York cocoa settled down $137, or 5.2 percent, at $2,498 per tonne. This was the spot contract’s biggest one-day drop since May 2017.

* Prices were pressured by profit-taking by funds holding long positions, traders said.

* The sharp drop came after total open interest reached an 11-month high at 304,550 lots on Monday, when prices hit a 1-1/2-year high at $2,647, ICE data showed. As of March 27, government data showed speculators held their biggest net long position since August 2016.

* “A lot of people have been hanging on to these long positions. We’re seeing them exit after the long weekend,” said Peter Mooses, senior market strategist for RJO Futures in Chicago.

* “We’ve been talking about it being so overbought for a month, still they are saying production is going to be pretty light and there’s no new news to hold it up. That’s getting people out of the market.”

* “We believe that short-term cocoa prices have more than priced in the lower crop in West Africa stemming from the tendency of tree crops to rest the year after a large output year,” Shawn Hackett, president of Hackett Financial Advisors, said in a market note.

* May London cocoa settled down 20 pounds, or 1.1 percent, at 1,733 pounds per tonne.

COFFEE

* May arabica coffee settled up 0.2 cent, or 0.2 percent, at $1.166 per lb, after falling to a low of $1.16, the weakest level for the front month since June 2017.

* The market was attempting to consolidate after a prolonged downtrend driven largely by the prospect of a large crop in top grower Brazil this year, dealers said.

* May robusta coffee settled up $14, or 0.8 percent, at $1,739 per tonne.

SUGAR

* May raw sugar settled down 0.05 cent, or 0.4 percent, at 12.47 cents per lb. This was not far from last week’s 2-1/2-year low of 12.18 cents.

* Rising production in India and Thailand continued to pressure prices, traders said.

* “We see the bottom of the range being tested and 12 cents thereafter,” said Sucden Financial senior trader Nick Penney in a market note.

* May white sugar settled up $3.50, or 1 percent, at $354.70 per tonne. (Reporting by Marcy Nicholson and Chris Prentice in New York, and Nigel Hunt in London Editing by Susan Fenton and Matthew Lewis)

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