(Updates throughout; adds comment, NEW YORK dateline)
NEW YORK/LONDON, April 12 (Reuters) - White sugar futures on ICE edged higher on Thursday, as light buying lifted prices from 2-1/2-year lows touched a day earlier, while cocoa turned lower in rangebound dealings as prices hovered beneath recent highs.
* May raw sugar settled down 0.01 cent, or 0.1 percent, at 12.05 cents per lb, just above Wednesday’s 2-1/2-year low of 11.93 cents.
* August white sugar settled up $2.40, or 0.7 percent, at $337.60 per tonne, after falling to $332.60, near Wednesday’s 2-1/2-year low of $332.30.
* The move lifted the premium of the spot white sugar contract over raws LSU-SB1=R to as high as $85.68, the highest since July.
* Scale-down buying prevented futures prices from falling below the 2-1/2-year lows reached in the prior two sessions, traders said.
* “The trading pattern still suggests the market is finding substantial pockets of buying at each new low,” said Tobin Gorey of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, in a market note.
* However, dealers said gains were limited as the market remained vulnerable to selling by producers, who remain under-hedged while focus remained on ample global supplies from India and Thailand.
* May white sugar, which expires on Friday, closed up 1 percent at $349.60 per tonne, with its premium reaching a session high of $14 over August LSUK8-Q8, which dealers said signaled hesitancy by sellers to deliver at current prices.
* July New York cocoa settled down $16, or 0.62 percent, at $2,564 per tonne, near the 1-1/2-year high of $2,675 reached on April 2.
* Prices were pressured by May/July spreading on the last day of the official index roll period, traders said.
* July London cocoa settled down 12 pounds, or 0.7 percent, at 1,761 pounds per tonne, hovering below the 15-month high of 1,854 tonnes reached on March 26.
* Prices were firm earlier, with traders noting a scarcity of high-quality Ivorian beans pushing physical differentials higher.
* Market participants awaited first-quarter grind data next week from Europe, with estimates ranging from 2 percent to 4 percent higher versus a year prior, and North America, with estimates ranging widely from 1.5 percent lower to 2 percent higher.
* July arabica coffee settled down 0.25 cent, or 0.2 percent, at $1.20 per lb.
* The La Niña weather pattern is unlikely to take place through May, a U.S. government weather forecaster said, adding to bearish sentiment, traders said.
* July robusta coffee settled up $2, or 0.1 percent, at $1,736 per tonne. (Reporting by Marcy Nicholson in New York and Ana Ionova in London; editing by Susan Fenton and Leslie Adler)