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Asia Coffee-Sluggish trading in Vietnam ahead of Lunar New Year

HANOI/BANDAR LAMPUNG, Indonesia, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Vietnam coffee prices fell in lacklustre trading ahead of a long holiday, while activity in Indonesia remained subdued on scarce stock and is not expected to pick up until March, traders said on Thursday.

Markets in Vietnam will shut from Jan. 23-29 to mark Tet or Lunar New Year.

“Coffee shipments from Vietnam will fall sharply the week before and during Tet,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said, adding that export activities will not resume until the holiday is over.

Farmers in the Central Highlands, Vietnam's largest coffee-growing area, sold coffee COFVN-DAK at 32,300-32,500 dong ($1.39-$1.40) per kg, narrowing from 32,600 dong last week.

Traders estimated farmers had sold about one-third of the 2019/20 harvest.

“Beans supply post-holiday will be tight as farmers are not under the pressure of selling for Tet anymore,” another trader based in the coffee belt said.

Data released by the customs on Monday showed coffee exports from Vietnam, the world’s biggest producer of the robusta bean, dived 11.9%, from a year earlier, to 1.65 million tonnes in 2019.

March robusta coffee settled up $15, or 1.14%, at $1,327 per tonne on Wednesday.

Traders in Vietnam offered 5% black and broken grade 2 robusta COFVN-G25-SAI at $70-$80 premium per tonne to the March contract on Thursday, down from $100 premium last week.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's grade 4 defect 80 robusta beans COFID-G4-USD were offered at premiums of $220-$250 to the March contract this week, unchanged from a week ago, a trader in Sumatra's Lampung province said.

“Trade remained muted,” one of the traders said.

Exporters await the next robusta harvest in southern part of Indonesia’s Sumatra island, which typically starts to trickle in around March. ($1 = 23,171 dong) (Reporting by Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi and Mas Alina Arifin in Bandar Lampung; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)