(Updates throughout with closing prices; adds comment, NEW YORK dateline)
NEW YORK/LONDON, April 16 (Reuters) - New York cocoa futures vaulted to a 1-1/2-year high on Monday as technical signals drove fund buying, while arabica coffee on ICE Futures U.S. hit its lowest since mid-2017 and sugar also fell.
* July New York cocoa settled up $128, or 4.97 percent, at $2,704 per tonne and hit $2,714, the highest for the second-month since October 2016. It was the biggest one-day gain since February.
* “Currency helped to set it on the road,” one dealer said, referring to losses in the U.S. dollar which drives buying of New York cocoa as an alternative to its sterling-traded counterpart in London.
* July London cocoa settled up 62 pounds, or 3.51 percent, at 1,826 pounds per tonne.
* Gains gathered pace on technical buying as speculators added to a long position already at a near two-year high, traders said.
* “We went from a technically short term downtrend to a technical bull trend now,” said the trader. “We had three tops last week ... we took them out and that was it.”
* Dealers awaited demand data due later this week. Europe’s Q1 grind, scheduled to be issued on Wednesday, is expected to show a year-on-year rise of two to four percent. The grind showed year-on-year increases in every quarter last year.
* North American grind data is due to be released on Thursday, with estimates ranging from 1.5 percent lower to 2 percent higher.
* July arabica coffee settled down 2.95 cents, or 2.47 percent, at $1.1655 per lb. Prices fell to $1.1645, a July contract low and the second-month’s weakest since June 2017.
* “A weather event is what you’d need for sugar and coffee markets to get going. Without it prices will likely stay sideways and grind lower,” the U.S. trader said.
* July robusta coffee settled down $7, or 0.40 percent, at $1,729 per tonne.
* May raw sugar settled down 0.10 cent, or 0.8 percent, at 11.98 cents per lb.
* “Short-term supply remains strongly bearish. The seasonal rainfall outlook for India remains around/slightly above average which should allow for good levels of production,” Marex said in a market note, referring to the harvest in the world’s top consumer and a major global producer.
* August white sugar settled up $1.60, or 0.47 percent, at $340.60 per tonne.
* Commodities trader ED&F Man bought 140,750 tonnes of white sugar against the May ICE contract which expired on Friday, according to the company and exchange data, confirming earlier trade reports. (Reporting by Chris Prentice in New York and Nigel Hunt in London; editing by Alexander Smith and Chizu Nomiyama)