March 18, 2020 / 1:24 PM / 18 days ago

SOFTS-Raw sugar hits 1-1/2 year low, arabica coffee surges

LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) - Raw sugar futures on ICE hit 1-1/2 year lows on Wednesday, with equities and oil plunging as fears over the coronavirus pandemic eclipsed support measures rolled out by policymakers around the globe.

Arabica bucked the sell-off in financial markets, surging 11% at one point amid tight supplies.

SUGAR

* May raw sugar ​​fell 0.06 cents, or 0.6%, to 10.83 cents per lb at 1250 GMT, having hit its lowest since September 2018 at 10.75.

* U.S. crude futures plumbed 18-year lows as travel and social lockdowns sparked by the coronavirus knocked the outlook for demand.

* A dealer said sugar fundamentals were of no real consequence at the moment, with traders lowering their risk appetite in futures and physical markets.

* Weaker energy prices have prompted expectations mills in Brazil will switch to using more cane to make sugar rather than biofuel ethanol.

* French sugar and ethanol company Tereos has decided to boost the production of pharmaceutical alcohol at five of its factories in France to meet a shortage of hydroalcoholic gel due to the fast-spreading coronavirus.

* Tereos’ French rival Cristal Union said on Tuesday it was suspending the production of bioethanol at the Arcis sur Aube distillery to redirect its production towards ethyl alcohol.

* Suedzucker, Europe’s largest sugar refiner, said on Wednesday sugar supplies are secure despite heavy demand as some European consumers stockpile during the coronavirus crisis.

* May white sugar fell $1.70, or 0.5%, to $336.80 a tonne, having hit its lowest since last November.

COFFEE

* May arabica coffee surged 9 cents, or 9%, to $1.1200 per lb. It was up 11% earlier at $1.1410, and is on track for its biggest one-day surge since February 2014.

* ICE certified stocks KC-TOT-TOT plunged by 14,733 60-kg bags on Tuesday alone. They now total 2.08 million bags, their lowest since mid-January.

* Soaring arabica premiums in the physical markets are deterring traders from delivering coffee to the exchange where it commands little, if any, mark-up.

* ICE Futures U.S. cannot ensure that the sampling of cocoa and arabica coffee can be completed in time for May 2020 contracts due to “developing conditions related to the coronavirus”.

* May robusta coffee rose $16 or 1.3% to $1,228 a tonne.

COCOA

* May New York cocoa ​​rose $23, or 1%, to $2,336 a tonne, having hit a six-month low of $2,249 on Tuesday.

* May cocoa may rise towards $2,425 per tonne as it has cleared resistance at $2,305, according to technical analyst Wang Tao.

* May London cocoa rose 23 pounds, or 1.3%, to 1,846 pounds per tonne. (Reporting by Maytaal Angel; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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