* Raw sugar prices have risen about 44 percent this year
* Cocoa prices extend rebounds, robusta coffee eases
By Nigel Hunt
LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Raw sugar futures rose to the highest level in nearly four years on Friday as slowing production in Brazil heightened concerns about tightening supplies.
March raws were up 0.32 cents or 1.5 percent at 21.48 cents per lb at 1132 GMT after rising to a peak of 21.52 cents, the highest level for the second month since October 2012.
Brazil’s main center-south cane belt produced 2.54 million tonnes of sugar in the second half of August, slowing 14 percent from the first half of last month, cane industry association Unica said on Thursday.
Dealers said the news reinforced sentiment that there would be a weak finish to the harvest.
“The trade has been spooked by more modest Brazilian production so they are wary about being short,” said analyst Tobin Gorey of Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Raw sugar prices have risen around 44 percent this year, boosted by the prospect of global deficits in both the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons.
Rabobank forecast on Friday there would a global deficit of 7.2 million tonnes, raw value, in the upcoming 2016/17 season (October/September), following a deficit of 7.9 million tonnes in the current season.
Fund buying has also helped to fuel the run-up in prices.
December white sugar futures rose $6.00 or 1.1 percent to $562.00 per tonne.
Cocoa futures were higher with prices boosted by news that the Ivory Coast’s Coffee and Cocoa Council would not be cancelling any 2016/17 cocoa contracts.
Reports about possible resales had triggered a sharp fall in prices during the last few days.
The CCC also said the government-guaranteed farmer prices will remain unaffected in the coming season.
“In response, cocoa prices were able to recoup the lion’s share of the losses they suffered at the beginning of the week,” Commerzbank said on Friday.
December London cocoa was up 6 pounds or 0.3 percent at 2,256 pounds per tonne. The contract has rebounded strongly after dipping to a low of 2,160 pounds on Friday.
December New York cocoa was up a marginal $2 or 0.1 percent at $2,834 a tonne.
Robusta coffee futures were slightly lower, in a modest setback after the market’s rise this week to the highest level in more than 18 months.
November robusta coffee was down $8, or 0.4 percent, at $1,928 per tonne after peaking at $1,947 on Thursday, the highest level for the second month since February 2015.
December arabica coffee was off 0.50 cents or 0.3 percent at $1.4840 per lb. (Additional reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; Editing by Hugh Lawson)