SOFTS-Robusta coffee hits 7-week low, origin selling weighs
* Robusta seen range bound as Vietnam harvest picks up
* Dry weather seen helping Brazil sugar harvest
* ICE says markets trading normal hours despite hurricane
(Adds details, quotes, updates prices)
LONDON, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Liffe robusta coffee futures fell to a seven-week low on Monday, under pressure from origin selling as top producer Vietnam's harvest picked up.
Raw sugar futures were steady, as dry weather was expected to aid Brazil's harvest progress, while cocoa edged higher.
Vietnam's large crop weighed on robusta coffee. January robusta futures were down $21 or 1 percent at $2,000 a tonne at 1244 GMT after touching $1,987 earlier in the session, the lowest level for the second month since Sept. 6.
Prices were expected to keep to a narrow range in the short term.
``We think prices will stay around the level of around $2,000 dollars over the near term, but we don't really expect a huge swing in prices over the next month,'' Commerzbank analyst Michaela Kuhl said, adding that Vietnam's harvest could cap upside potential.
Coffee prices in Vietnam have fallen below 40,000 dong ($1.92) per kg, however, a psychological level that farmers use to decide whether they will hold back stocks or sell beans to markets as the harvest gets under way.
Arabica coffee futures on ICE eased a touch, with December down 0.5 cent or 0.3 percent at $1.5735 per lb. The second-month hit $1.6070 earlier in the session, the lowest level since Sept. 7.
Commerzbank's Kuhl said the downward move would be short-lived and prices could rebound to around $2.00 per lb in the first quarter of 2013 when top producer Brazil enters an off-year in its biennial crop cycle.
March sugar futures edged up 0.01 cent or 0.1 percent at 19.36 cents a lb, close to Friday's four-week low of 19.28 cents, as ample supplies remained in focus.
With dry weather forecast in major producer Brazil, Unica, the country's cane industry association, is expected to report that crushings continued at a fast pace in the last two weeks of October when it issues an update next week.
``There is nothing to suggest anything otherwise. No one is too concerned for the end of the crop at the moment. We'd need to see a forecast for heavy, heavy rain for a long period of time for it to have an impact,'' said a London-based broker.
Dealers kept an eye on a widening premium on December white sugar futures over March, to $21.70 per tonne from $8.20 a week ago, which could indicate a shortage of sugar for delivery.
``If you can't deliver you have to get out and take the price on offer at the moment,'' the London broker said.
December white sugar on Liffe eased 50 cent or 0.1 percent at $544.70 per tonne.
ICE December cocoa was up $4 or 0.2 percent at $2,387 per tonne after touching a two-week low in early trading on a second-month basis.
Liffe March cocoa futures were up 4 pounds at 1,548 pounds per tonne.
Dealers said activity on the physical cocoa market remained subdued in the opening weeks of the 2012/13 season. Harvest of West Africa's main crop is now under way with port arrivals slowly picking up.
``It was a quiet week in terms of physical business,'' said a European cocoa trader.
``People are just waiting for things to come.''
Cocoa arrivals at ports in top grower Ivory Coast reached around 87,000 tonnes by Oct. 28 since the start of the season earlier this month, exporters estimated on Monday, compared with 90,609 tonnes in the same period of the previous season.
Activity across all markets was expected to be thin as Hurricane Sandy neared landfall along the mid-Atlantic states of the United States, forcing shops, offices and share markets in New York to close.
In a statement on its website IntercontinentialExchange Inc. said all exchange markets were expected to operate normal trading hours on Monday.
(Additional reporting by Sarah McFarlane; Editing by Anthony Barker)