SOFTS-ICE coffee, sugar prices ease as downtrends resume
* Rebound in raw sugar futures stalls
* Robusta coffee underpinned by demand growth
* Liffe cocoa slips to 5-month low
(Adds quotes, updates prices)
LONDON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Arabica coffee futures on ICE were lower on Wednesday, drifting towards a 2-1/2 year low set last week, as increasing supplies from Brazil and Central America weighed on prices.
Raw sugar futures fell as a rebound from the lowest levels in more than two years stalled, while cocoa prices on Liffe slipped to a five-month low.
Dealers said a growth in demand for coffee had helped to mitigate the effects of rising global coffee production, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this week forecasting a record crop in 2012/13.
"The USDA report provided a reminder that there is another world record crop in 2012/13, but underpinning prices is demand growth," said Andrea Thompson, an analyst at Coffee Network, part of INTL FCStone.
March arabica futures on ICE fell 0.65 cent or 0.45 percent to $1.4335 per lb by 1452 GMT. The contract dipped to $1.4220 last week, which was the lowest level for the then second month since June 2010.
Prices have fallen by more than 50 percent from a highs set in May 2011 and may be set to consolidate around current levels.
"We've come a long way already, and my feeling is the downside is limited at the minute ... The world market needs these record crops at the moment because of demand," Thompson said.
ICE March coffee may slide more to $1.40 per lb and then bottom around this level, according to Reuters analyst Wang Tao.
Robusta coffee futures on Liffe were higher, with March up $16 or 0.9 percent at $1,858 a tonne.
Thompson said the low level of Liffe-certified stocks, despite strong exports from top robusta producer Vietnam in recent months, showed that demand was strong.
Raw sugar futures on ICE were slightly lower, with March off 0.12 cent or 0.6 percent at 19.27 cents a lb.
The contract has rebounded after dipping last week to 18.31 cents, the lowest level for the benchmark front month since August 2010.
Dealers said the rebound, which has been fuelled partly by speculators' trimming their largest net short position in more than five years, appeared to have stalled and that the focus had returned to excess supplies, with a substantial global surplus widely forecast for 2012/13.
Czarnikow on Wednesday widened its forecast for a global sugar surplus in 2012/13 to 7.8 million tonnes, raw value, from a previous projection of 7.1 million issued in September.
The commodities house in September had said that lower sugar prices should encourage increased demand but noted in their latest update that it had cut its consumption forecast "as we are yet to see tangible evidence of stronger growth".
March white sugar on Liffe fell $1.70 or 0.3 percent to $519.20 per tonne.
Cocoa was also weaker, with May futures on Liffe off 27 pounds or 1.8 percent at 1,492 pounds a tonne after touching 1,491 pounds, the lowest level for the second month since mid-July.
Dealers said origin selling this week had exerted some downward pressure on prices and that buying by trade and industry had been scaled down.
"Whether or not we're going to break below the range and force weak longs out, it's a distinct possibility," a London-based broker said.
March cocoa futures on ICE were off $40 or 1.7 percent at $2,357 a tonne.
(Editing by Alison Birrane and Helen Massy-Beresford; editing by Jane Baird)