March 11, 2020 / 1:11 PM / in 22 days

SOFTS-Raw sugar falls as energy prices tumble; arabica coffee, cocoa gain

LONDON, March 11 (Reuters) - ICE raw sugar prices fell on Wednesday as oil tumbled as an escalating price war between Saudi Arabica and Russia prompted fears Brazil will raise sugar output at the expense of ethanol.

Arabica coffee and cocoa were higher.

SUGAR

* May raw sugar was down 0.16 cents, or 1.3%, at 12.45 cents per lb at 1239 GMT, heading back towards a 4-1/2 month low of 12.18 cents set on Monday.

* Oil prices fell after Saudi Arabia announced plans to boost oil production capacity for the first time in more than a decade, escalating its price war with Russia. Weakened demand due to the spread of coronavirus also weighed.

* Falling energy prices can lead to more use of cane in Brazil to make sugar rather than biofuel ethanol.

* “Compared to 2019-20, Brazil could increase its sugar production by 4 to 5 million tonnes, which would push the world to an almost balanced situation in the next marketing year,” analyst Agritel said in a report.

* Sugar supply side fundamentals remain tight for now, however. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday it had asked the Department of Commerce to boost sugar imports because supply conditions pointed to a shortage in the U.S. market.

* The statement was released shortly after the department’s monthly supply and demand report indicated a cut in the closely watched sugar stocks-to-use ratio for the 2019/20 crop year to 7.2% from 12.4% a month earlier.

* Indian sugar mills have so far contracted to export 3.5 million tonnes of sugar in the 2019/20 marketing year, a trade body said. The country, a top sugar producer, is expected to export 5 million tonnes this year.

* May white sugar fell $1.40, or 0.4%, to $360.50 a tonne.

COFFEE

* May arabica coffee rose 35 cents, or 0.3%, to $1.1470 per lb, continuing to outperform many other commodities amid tightening supplies.

* Exports of green coffee from top producer Brazil dropped by almost 26% to 2.4 million 60-kg bags in February, Cecafé said, citing a reduction in local supplies and a shorter month.

* Arabica exchange stocks continue to decline meanwhile, and demand appears to be holding up well, dealers said.

* May robusta coffee was down $6, or 0.5%, at $1,273 a tonne.

* Vietnam, the world’s top robusta producer, exported 319,207 tonnes of coffee in the first two months of the year, up 1% from a year earlier, Vietnam customs said.

COCOA

* May New York cocoa was up $16, or 0.6%, at $2,593 a tonne after setting a two-month low of $2,509 on Monday.

* New York cocoa may bounce to $2,620, as it has stabilized around support at $2,523, a Reuters technical analysis showed.

* Ivory Coast cocoa grinders processed 235,000 tonnes of beans by the end of February, up from 226,000 tonnes from the same period last season.

* May London cocoa rose 25 pounds, or 1.3%, to 1,911 pounds a tonne. (Editing by David Evans)

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