SOFTS-Sugar nudges higher, weak India monsoon supports

Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:25pm EDT

* Weather concerns support sugar prices
    * I. Coast plans to sell forward 80 pct of 2012/13 crop
    * Dealers eye premiums on nearby robusta contracts

 (Updates prices)
    By Marcy Nicholson and Sarah McFarlane
    NEW YORK/LONDON, July 30 (Reuters) - Raw sugar futures edged
up above a key technical level in thin volume on Monday,
supported by key-producer India's weak monsoon rains, while
arabica coffee rose along with the firm commodity complex.
    Cocoa futures closed firm and above their 200-day moving
average in a choppy session, briefly weighed down by a bearish
view on strong sales from top grower Ivory Coast while support
from the strong commodity complex helped lift prices.
    Sugar futures were higher as a lack of rain in the world's
second largest producer, India, could cut the country's
production prospects.
    "It's too early to say whether sugar production will be
affected, we're only half way through the monsoon, there's still
plenty of time for rainfall to improve," said Muktadir Ur
Rahman, a commodities economist at Capital Economics in London.
    Benchmark October sugar futures on ICE rose 0.28
cent, or 1.2 percent, to finish at 22.80 cents a lb, having hit
a three-month high of 24.00 cents last week.
    Indian ministers will meet on Tuesday to discuss measures to
deal with a feared drought, including curbs on commodity
derivatives, extra subsidies to farmers and the distribution of
seeds, but they are not expected to ban farm exports.
 
    The country is a swing factor in the world sugar market, and
it regularly switches between being an importer and exporter,
the former often sending prices higher.
    "I don't see India immediately turning into a net importer
instead of a net exporter yet," said Rahman.
    The benchmark raw contract closed above its 200-day moving
average at 22.73 cents per lb, which was likely to attract
buying by longer-term funds, one U.S. dealer said.
    
    
    
    White sugar October futures on Liffe closed up
$6.00, or 1 percent, at $620.20 a tonne.
    Dealers said further forecasts for rain in Brazil were
expected to support prices.
    "The weather concerns should keep market structures and the
whites premium steady, but the flat price is vulnerable to
further bouts of liquidation," said Nick Penney, of brokerage
Sucden Financial.
    
    COCOA CHOPPY
    Cocoa prices were firmer with ICE September futures 
closing up $11, or 0.5 percent, at $2,341 a tonne after turning
down to a session low at $2,320. The contract settled above its
200-day moving average at $2,331, a move viewed as technically
bullish.
    Dealers were surprised at top producer Ivory Coast's plans
to sell forward 80 percent of their 2012/13 crop, the upper end
of their stated range of 70-80 percent.
    Ivory Coast had sold around 910,000 tonnes, or nearly 70
percent of its projected 2012/2013 cocoa harvest, by early last
week, an official at the country's finance ministry said.
 
    "Most people had put them as sold out so from that point of
view it's not bullish," said a London-based broker.
    A veteran dealer in New York, however, viewed the
information as bullish as it means that Ivory Coast only has
130,000 tonnes of the 2012/13 crop left to sell.
    "All that Ivory has to sell doesn't cover what industry has
to buy to replace it. It will be interesting to see what happens
in the fourth quarter," he said.
    "Specs came out and sold on it but there's nothing bearish
about it."
    London December cocoa finished up 10 pounds at 1,593
pounds per tonne.
    Cocoa arrivals at ports in top grower Ivory Coast reached
around 1,297,000 tonnes by July 29, exporters estimated,
compared with 1,368,429 tonnes in the same period of the
previous season. 
    Arabica coffee futures climbed in sideways dealings as they
continued to correct from last week's tumble, with dealers
noting industry buying interest.
    September arabicas on ICE settled up 4.65 cents, or
2.7 percent, to close at $1.7835 per lb, above the 100-day
moving average of $1.7690. 
    "There seems to be some good industry buying," said a
London-based broker.
    "We're around 20 cents off the highs so there might be some
interest for industry to add some cover here."
    Robusta coffee futures eased off Friday's two-month high
with dealers eying the premiums on nearby contracts.
    September's premium narrowed to close at $44 per tonne over
November LRC-1=R after closing at $46 on Friday. Premiums can
indicate tight nearby supplies.
    September robusta coffee futures closed down $6, or
0.3 percent, at $2,240 a tonne.

 (editing by Jim Marshall and Marguerita Choy)
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