* Lack of butter supplies from cocoa producing countries
* Price differentials for cocoa beans ease on lack of demand
AMSTERDAM, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Price ratios for cocoa butter, a key ingredient in chocolate, firmed this week on the lack of supplies from cocoa-growing countries, European traders said on Friday.
“There is almost no origin butter available,” one trader said. “People are reluctant to sell butter, they have plenty of powder they want to sell first.”
Price ratios for cocoa butter offered for sale for January-March delivery on Friday were 2.1 times nearby London cocoa bean contracts <0#LCC:>, up from 2.03 times London last week and only 1.22 times in early July.
The activity in the market is expected to remain low in the next two weeks due to Christmas and New Year holidays.
“We expect the market activity to pick up after January 7, when plants will be fully operational,” another trader said.
Cocoa futures on Liffe fell to a near seven-month low in London in early trading, under pressure from a weakening technical outlook, based on historical price charts.
Price differentials in Europe’s cash cocoa market eased on lack of buying interest, traders said.
Differentials for good quality Ivory Coast beans for nearby delivery were slightly weaker at around 45 pounds ($73.17) over the London March 2013 cocoa contract, versus 50 the previous week.
“There are not many buyers because differentials are still too high,” one European trader said.
“The market is focused on Ivory Coast. It seems that the cocoa arrivals are going well, the market is watching if the political situation there will remain stable.”
Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer, has been hit by a wave of deadly attacks since August.
Gunmen attacked military and police targets around Ivory Coast’s main city Abidjan before dawn on Friday, killing at least one person, the U.N. mission in the West African country said. ($1 = 0.6150 British pounds) (Reporting by Ivana Sekularac)