SOFTS-ICE cocoa eases from 2-1/2-year highs, coffee edges higher
* Currency-related dealings weigh on New York cocoa
* Speculator buying buoys arabica despite rain forecasts
* Sugar futures underpinned by expectations of reduced supplies (Updates with closing prices; adds byline, NEW YORK dateline)
By Chris Prentice and Sarah McFarlane
NEW YORK/LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) - ICE cocoa eased from Monday's 2-1/2-year high on profit-taking, while arabica coffee edged higher on renewed speculator buying and lingering worry over the extent of drought damage to crops in top grower Brazil.
Raw sugar on ICE Futures U.S. inched higher on Tuesday after choppy trading, pinned between subdued demand and mounting expectations of reduced supplies.
Trading volumes were below average across the softs markets, preliminary Thomson Reuters data showed.
The weather-driven rally that has propelled coffee prices 70 percent higher so far this year has lost momentum in recent sessions on an improved outlook for much-needed rain in Brazil.
Forecasters on Tuesday predicted an increasing likelihood of wet weather across the country's key growing regions. Continuación...