March 19, 2020 / 1:35 PM / 2 months ago

SOFTS-Raw sugar plumbs fresh 1-1/2 year low, arabica coffee gains

LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - Raw sugar futures on ICE steadied on Thursday after plumbing fresh 1-1/2 year lows on fears the coronavirus-induced falls in energy prices in Brazil will prompt mills there to produce more sugar at the expense of ethanol, a cane-based biofuel.

Arabica coffee continued to buck the trend, edging up on fears over container shortages at ports.

SUGAR

* May raw sugar ​​edged down 0.02 cents, or 0.2%, to 10.64 cents per lb at 1310 GMT, having hit its lowest since September 2018 at 10.52.

* Brazil’s Petrobras on Wednesday cut gasoline prices by 12% at the country’s refineries, the second large reduction in a week, as the state-controlled oil company adjusts to falling global oil prices.

* The cut will likely weigh on ethanol prices in Brazil, making sugar a more attractive option for cane mills.

* Crude oil prices bounced off 18-year lows on Thursday however, as investors assessed the impact of massive central bank stimulus measures introduced to stem the coronavirus-induced financial rout.

* Also weighing on sugar is weakness in the Brazilian real , which induces millers in the south American country to sell more dollar-priced sugar as its value rises in local currency terms.

* A dealer said many now expect Brazil to produce more than 30 million tonnes of sugar in the upcoming season that starts in April, versus 26.5 million for each of the last two seasons.

* May white sugar fell $1.30, or 0.4%, to $334.50 a tonne, having hit its lowest since last November.

COFFEE

* May arabica coffee rose 3.05 cents, or 2.9%, to $1.1135 per lb, having closed up 5% on Wednesday.

* A dealer said talk of container shortages at ports in top producer Brazil and beyond were boosting arabica, as is general supply tightness.

* ICE certified stocks KC-TOT-TOT totalled 2.08 million bags at last count, versus 2.18 million at end-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 Europe has cut cocoa and coffee delivery limits due to potential disruptions linked to the cornoavirus pandemic.

* May robusta coffee fell $11 or 0.9% to $1,216 a tonne.

* Domestic coffee prices in top producer Vietnam dropped further this week on coronavirus fears.

COCOA

* May New York cocoa ​​fell $12, or 0.5%, to $2,263 a tonne, having hit a six-month low.

* ICE has reduced its spot month position limit for cocoa futures to 50 lots.

* May London cocoa fell 18 pounds, or 1%, to 1,797 pounds per tonne. (Reporting by Maytaal Angel; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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