SOFTS-Raw sugar dips, surplus supplies weigh
* Sell-stops triggered in raw sugar market
* Ivory Coast cocoa arrivals pick up
(Adds details, quotes, updates prices)
LONDON, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Raw sugar futures slid on Thursday as the market refocused on bearish fundamentals after it was swept higher in the rally across the commodities complex the previous session.
Arabica futures were steady, holding onto recent gains following a strong start to the year after commodities were buoyed by the announcement of a U.S. deal to avoid a fiscal crisis.
Cocoa prices were little changed
Raw sugar futures fell from the one-month high hit the previous session, as ample supplies kept the market in check.
"We haven't made any real inroads on the upside. It all comes back to the surplus," said a London-based broker.
"The trade have all got the same problem, they're all trying to sell sugar, they're long of physicals and have to find buyers," said the broker.
"The producers want to sell more but they can't find buyers."
March raw sugar futures on ICE traded down 0.47 cent or 2.4 percent at 19.22 cents per lb at 1453 GMT, after dipping as low as 19.05 cents earlier in the session.
"It got to a level where there were a number of stops and in a matter of seconds it dropped like a stone," said a second London-based broker.
March white sugar on Liffe eased $9.90 or 1.9 percent to $518.50 per tonne.
In arabica coffee, dealers and analysts said the historically large net short position, which stood at 34,110 lots at Dec 24., according to U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data, made the market vulnerable to further short covering.
"There's a point at which the gross short position in the arabica market either needs to potentially expand further to push prices lower and encourage demand, or it needs to pare back," said Keith Flury, analyst at Rabobank.
"The idea that it's going to sit at that kind of level for months to come is unlikely."
Benchmark May arabica futures traded up 0.45 cent or 0.3 percent at $1.4985 per lb.
A wide variation between estimates for top producer Brazil's coming crop could also cause concern for investors who are short of the market and trigger the closing out of positions, Flury added.
March robusta coffee futures were up $23 or 1.2 percent at $1,965 a tonne.
Cocoa prices were steady as the volume of cocoa arriving at ports in top grower Ivory Coast increased on the week and the country's weather conditions remained favourable for the development of the mid crop.
"The arrival numbers were pretty good, the crop itself is less of a worry than it was last quarter," said Rabobank's Flury.
Exporters estimated around 70,000 tonnes of beans were delivered to Ivory Coast's two ports between Dec. 24 and Dec. 30, up from 66,000 tonnes the previous week.
ICE March cocoa futures were up $11 or 0.5 percent at $2,270 per tonne.
Ivory Coast expects its cocoa output to dip 13 percent this season to 1.289 million tonnes due mainly to a lack of investment in ageing plantations, a top official at the Coffee and Cocoa Council said in an interview on Thursday.
On the demand side, the cocoa market awaited the fourth quarter cocoa grinding data, due mid-January.
"I think what a lot of people are interested in is the demand - the market could be in a 100,000 tonne deficit or it could be flat this year, very much depending on the profitability of (cocoa) grinders," said Flury.
Liffe May cocoa futures traded up 12 pounds or 0.8 percent at 1,450 pounds per tonne, above the previous sessions eight-and-a-half month low of 1,429 pounds.
(Reporting by Sarah McFarlane; Editing by William Hardy)