* Arabica trade eye 2015/16 Brazil crop forecasts
* Cocoa trade focused on next week’s grind data
By David Brough
LONDON, April 10 (Reuters) - Raw sugar futures steadied and coffee eased under pressure from a firmer dollar on Friday, while cocoa edged up but was capped by expectations of weak first-quarter European and North American grind data next week.
Raw sugar on ICE was flat, buoyed by a slow start to Brazil’s cane harvest and talk of tight nearby supplies due to firm demand for cane-based ethanol, with the upside in prices limited by the stronger dollar against a basket of currencies.
A stronger dollar increases the cost of dollar-denominated sugar, coffee and New York cocoa contracts in other currencies.
“As Brazil’s cane harvest starts, a lot of cane will be diverted to ethanol production,” said Hamish Smith, commodities analyst with Capital Economics. “We think there is a possibility raw sugar prices could move a little higher.”
Nick Penney, a senior trader with Sucden Financial Sugar, said: “Reports of a delayed start due to rainy weather are emerging and some Brazilian mills are now only expecting to begin operations at the end of this month.”
May raw sugar on ICE was flat at 12.80 cents a lb at 1116 GMT.
May white sugar was up $2.30, or 0.6 percent, at $365.90 per tonne.
Arabica coffee eased, weighed down by the firmer dollar.
“The biggest driver of prices is going to be estimates of Brazil’s harvests,” Smith said. “Once we get a better handle on arabica production, that will determine where prices are heading.”
May arabica was up 0.1 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $1.3755 per lb.
Arabicas received support from a forecast by U.S. coffee importer Wolthers Douque pegging Brazil’s 2015/16 coffee crop at 45.6 million bags, at the low end of trade house estimates.
London May robusta coffee was up $10, or 0.6 percent, at $1,801 per tonne.
Cocoa futures edged up, capped by expectations of soft European and North American grind data, a measure of demand.
“Next week’s cocoa data will be important,” Smith said.
He added that the cocoa trade was focused on the progress of West African mid-crops.
“Once we start to see how the mid crop is, that will give an indication to the market about how tight supply will be,” he said.
New York May cocoa was up $2, or 0.1 percent, at $2,794 a tonne, while London May cocoa edged up 12 pounds, or 0.6 percent, to 1,959 pounds a tonne. (Editing by David Evans)