* Cargill takes largest raw sugar delivery in 10 months
* Main deliverer of sugar is Brazil, Central America (Adds closing prices of sugar and coffee.)
By Rene Pastor and David Brough
NEW YORK/LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - Sugar futures stumbled on Thursday as markets took in stride news of the delivery of about 880,000 tonnes of raw sugar to giant trade house Cargill, and digested what looks to be ample supply from Brazil, the largest producer.
ICE Futures U.S. said a total of 17,325 lots, each 112,000 lbs, were delivered when the spot March raw sugar contract went off the board on Wednesday, the most in 10 months. Cargill confirmed it took it all, a total of 880,151 tonnes. `
Brokers said the presence of a major receiver should have been supportive for sugar futures, but the market did not appear to share that view.
The new ICE front-month May raw sugar contract was down 0.16 cent to finish at 24.85 cents per lb. London May white sugar futures sank $6.40 to close at $646.00 per tonne.
“The market is clearly shrugging it off,” said Country Hedging Inc senior analyst Sterling Smith. “The market is down on ideas supplies are going to be good.”
Romain Lathiere of Diapason Commodities Management said the recent surge in sugar ahead of the delivery was overdone.
“That took the market really, really high. I think we are still on a profit-taking pattern for the moment,” he said.
The often ignored cane crop in Brazil’s northeast, a region which produces as much sugar as Russia, will see a bumper harvest [DI:nL2E8DS6IY], and dealers believe it provided the sugar for this delivery.
Smith said if production in No. 2 producer India remains north of 20 million tonnes in the upcoming 2012/13 season, this will “keep sugar prices under control.”
The origins for the delivery in the March contract are Brazil, Central America, Thailand and the Philippines.
“We await vessel nominations with interest over the coming weeks to see if the physicals will go to welcoming homes,” said Nick Penney of broker Sucden Financial.
“The receiver now actually needs (to see) the flat price lower to attract buyers if (they are) not already on the books.”
Brazil’s 2012/13 (April-March) center-south cane crushing season will start about 10 days later on average than last year’s harvest began, the cane industry association Unica said on Wednesday.
“The May contract could remain firm because of any delays in Brazilian crops,” said Kona Haque, soft commodities analyst with Macquarie Bank.
Cocoa futures moved higher, spurred in part by news that world 2011/12 cocoa production is expected to come in 71,000 tonnes short of global grinding demand, the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) said on Wednesday. This follows a record surplus of 347,000 tonnes in 2010/11.
“The steady supply stream from West Africa will ease for a while now,” Haque said.
New York’s May cocoa futures climbed $32 or nearly 1.5 percent to close at $2,366 per tonne, underpinned by tight supplies during the inter-crop period between the West African main and mid crops.
London May cocoa was up 11 pounds to finish at 1,504 pounds per tonne.
Cocoa felt a lift from the firm sterling against the U.S. dollar and some commercial buying at the session lows, dealers said.
Benchmark U.S. cocoa neared the 100-day moving average at $2,395 per tonne, viewed as a technically positive.
Robusta coffee futures prices firmed, with dealers focused on growers in top producer Vietnam, who are retaining supplies. Arabica futures crawled up late.
“Because growers are holding back more coffee than you would expect at current price levels, there is a perception of nearby supply tightness,” said Andrea Thompson, an analyst at CoffeeNetwork, a subsidiary of INTL FCStone.
“Growers have the financial capability, they have the cash at the minute to be able to hold back and see if they can get a bit more for the crop. That is why there is this underlying support in the market.”
Benchmark Liffe May robusta futures were up $9 to end at $2,018 per tonne. May arabicas added 0.85 cent to settle at $2.041 per lb.
“Roasters are extending coverage at the $2-level,” one coffee dealer said, noting this was helping the market to prevent deeper losses.
Additional reporting by Michelle Martin in London and Marcy Nicholson in New York; Editing by Jane Baird and Alden Bentley