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SOFTS-Coffee, sugar suffer setback as commodity markets weaken

* China Feb trade data far worse than expected

* Cocoa mid-crops to fall despite recent rains

LONDON, March 8 (Reuters) - Arabica coffee and raw sugar futures were lower on Tuesday, weighed by a setback in stocks markets and many other commodity markets as weak data from China added to concerns of a possible global economic slowdown.

Dealers said the bearish economic data had helped to stall a recent advance in both markets linked to a strengthening in Brazil’s real currency.

“Everything is down today. The (arabica coffee) market has not quite been able to get to the next (higher) level where it would trigger more technical buying,” one coffee dealer said adding the market appeared range-bound at the moment.

China’s February trade performance was far worse than economists expected, with exports tumbling the most in over six years, days after leaders sought to reassure investors about the outlook for the world’s second-largest economy.

May arabica coffee was down 1.80 cents, or 1.5 percent, at $1.1910 per lb at 1202 GMT. The contract had climbed to a one-month high of $1.2180 on Monday.

May robusta coffee was off $7 or 0.5 percent at $1,387 per tonne.

Raw sugar also retreated with May down 0.07 cent, or 0.5 percent, at 14.59 cents a lb. The contract rose to a peak of 14.93 cents on Friday, its highest level this calendar year.

Dealers said there appeared to be stiff resistance around 15 cents a lb which may limit short-term gains.

May white sugar was down $1.80 or 0.4 percent at $419.80 per tonne.

New York cocoa futures also eased slightly with May down $7 or 0.2 percent at $3,003 per tonne.

Dealers said the market remained underpinned by expectations of smaller mid-crops in West Africa with recent rainfall possibility arriving too late to reverse much of the damage done by severe Harmattan winds.

“Thanks to the recent rainfall, the prospects for the upcoming mid-crop of cocoa in Ivory Coast - the leading producer country - have improved,” Commerzbank said in a market note.

“However, it remains to be seen whether the rainfall arrived in time and whether it was enough to prevent crop shortfalls.”

May London cocoa was unchanged at 2,212 pounds a tonne.

Editing by David Evans

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