SOFTS-White sugar futures climb to near 4-year high; cocoa jumps

(Updates prices)

NEW YORK/LONDON, Feb 5 (Reuters) – White sugar futures on ICE (NYSE:) rose to their highest level in nearly four years on Friday with the market buoyed by the strength of front month March LSUH1 in the run-up to next week’s expiry.

New York cocoa futures also posted strong gains.

SUGAR

* March white sugar rose $9.40, or 2%, to $474.80 per tonne after peaking at $477.70, a contract high and the highest level for the front month since April 2017.

* Dealers noted there appeared to be significant interest in taking delivery of sugar when the March contract expires next Friday.

* Interest in taking delivery has been buoyed by tightness in the physical market linked to a shortage of containers in countries such as India which has left the market more reliant on the break bulk supplies on which the contract is based.

* March raw sugar also posted strong gains, jumping 2.5% to 16.42 cents per lb.

* There was market chat of potential bottlenecks in Brazil for new-crop sugar shipments as the harvest of a record soy harvest has been delayed and ports will face a very large vessel line-up from March onwards.

COCOA

* May New York cocoa CCc2 ​​settled up $22, or 0.9%, to $2,472 a tonne.

* Dealers noted the premium for front month March to May CC-1=R had widened to around $125 from $89 at the close on Thursday as the market waited to see the extent to which there would be interest in taking delivery.

* Strong demand to receive cocoa against the December contract late last year led to a sharp rise in the front month’s premium to more than $200 a tonne at one point.

* May LCCc2 ​​settled up 6 pounds, or 0.4%, to 1,669 pounds per tonne​.

* Cocoa arrivals at ports in top grower Ivory Coast reached 1.337 million tonnes between October 1 and January 31, down 3% from the same period last season, data from the cocoa regulator (CCC) showed on Friday. March arabica coffee was little changed at $1.2405 per lb​​.

* The arabica coffee market has been trading in a tight range for the last three weeks, with little fresh fundamental news to provide direction.

* March robusta coffee was little changed at $1,340 a tonne.



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