April 23, 2020 / 1:54 PM / a month ago

SOFTS-Raw sugar edges higher as crude oil rallies

LONDON, April 23 (Reuters) - Raw sugar futures on ICE edged higher on Thursday, boosted partly by gains in crude oil, while coffee prices also advanced but cocoa eased slightly.

SUGAR

* May raw sugar was up 0.04 cent, or 0.4%, at 9.87 cents per lb at 1344 GMT. The front month fell to a low of 9.55 cents on Tuesday, its lowest since June 2008.

* Dealers said a rise in crude oil prices provided some support although the recent weakness of Brazil’s currency remained a bearish influence.

* A weak real increases the incentive for mills in Brazil to produce dollar-denominated sugar, particularly in view of a sharp fall in demand for biofuel ethanol during lockdowns.

* Brazilian Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said on Wednesday that within two days the government would announce support measures for the sugarcane and ethanol sector, as the sector is hit by sliding global fuel prices.

* August white sugar fell $0.50, or 0.15%, to $324.10 a tonne.

COCOA

* July New York cocoa fell $8, or 0.3%, to $2,367 a tonne with the market turning lower after equalling the prior session’s two-week high of $2,387.

* Dealers said there remained concern about a possible weakening in consumption linked to the novel coronavirus pandemic despite first quarter data this week from Europe and Asia which appeared to indicate demand may be holding up well.

* Asia’s first quarter grind fell a marginal 0.5% from the same quarter a year earlier while Europe’s grind actually rose by 0.9%, year-on-year.

* “These figures are anything but weak in view of the headwind posed by lockdowns and consumer uncertainty,” Commerzbank said in a note.

* North America’s first quarter grind, however, fell a more substantial 5.1% year-on-year.

* July London cocoa was down 4 pounds, or 0.2%, 1,896 pounds a tonne.

* Ivory Coast will create a cocoa-processing fund worth 10 billion CFA francs ($16.7 million) to help domestic grinders compete against long-dominant international players, the government spokesman said on Wednesday.

COFFEE

* July arabica coffee rose 1.75 cents, or 1.6%, to $1.1380 per lb.

* July robusta coffee was up $24, or 2.1%, at $1,145 a tonne.

* Coffee trading in Vietnam resumed on a sluggish note on Thursday after the government eased lockdown restrictions, while stocks in Indonesia remained limited, traders said. (Reporting by Nigel Hunt; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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