SOFTS-Arabica coffee firms, cocoa below 2-1/2-year peak
* Arabica prices seen high until crop damage clearer-analyst
* ICE cocoa prices are below 2-1/2-year high
By David Brough
LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - Arabica coffee futures on ICE edged higher on Wednesday having slipped from last week's highs partly due to expectations that the weather in Brazil could improve in the coming weeks, while raw sugar held steady.
Cocoa futures were steady and remained below a 2-1/2-year high, boosted by strong consumption growth that was expected to outstrip supply.
Arabica coffee consolidated as the market digested the major gains made in the past two months which saw prices push up as much as 85 percent since the start of the year due to dry weather in top grower Brazil.
"If sufficient rains come in Brazil, this might take some of the weather premium out of the market, although some irreversible damage has certainly been done," said Birgit Wippler, soft commodities analyst with F.O. Licht.
"Prices will remain elevated at least until we get a clearer picture of the extent of damage from the drought, when farmers start harvesting."
May arabica coffee futures on ICE edged up 0.5 cents or 0.3 percent to $1.9205 per lb at 1249 GMT. The second month peaked at $2.0975 last week, its highest level since February 2012. Continuación...