SOFTS-Cocoa and coffee hit by profit taking, sugar near 2010 low
* No recovery for cocoa prices in Q1 - Reuters poll
* Sugar market looks to Brazil's 2013/14 crop
* Traders worry about coffee damage from fungus in Central America
(Adds details, quote, updates prices)
NEW YORK/LONDON, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Coffee and cocoa prices in New York were on track Tuesday for their biggest one-day drop in over two months on profit taking, and sugar hovered near a 2010 low as investors exited longs amid signs of a growing surplus.
In brisk trade as markets reopened after the long holiday weekend in the United States, arabica coffee futures fell from two-and-a-half month highs close to the $1.58 per lb it hit on Friday.
"There's a bit of profit-taking, a snowball effect as we start the week," Said Hector Galvan, senior market strategist for RJO Futures in Chicago.
"The news isn't there as it was last week to keep investors on their toes, buying consistently," Galvan said.
He was referring to fears about crops in Central America, which produces a fifth of the world's arabica, where a tree-killing fungus known as roya is reducing yields.
March arabica futures traded down 6.9 cents or 4.41 percent at $1.494 per lb at 12:54 p.m. EDT (1754 GMT). That would be the front month's biggest one-day fall since Nov. 20.
Top producers Brazil and Vietnam still have a lot of coffee to sell, a broker in London said.
Dealers noted the potential for further short-covering gains as farmers in Central America struggle to control the fungus, which is spread by the wind.
March robusta coffee futures were down $2 or 0.1 percent at $1,968 a tonne with the market, digesting gains after peaking at $1,989 on Friday, the highest level for the second position since Nov. 2.
COCOA, SUGAR DOWN
Cocoa futures on ICE fell their most in three months in a correction after hitting a one-month high on Friday.
The market also digested the results of a Reuters poll, which revealed prices are expected to remain under pressure in the first quarter due to plentiful supplies.
In the longer term, chocolate makers will start to replenish stocks having worked through their surplus inventory. Combined with a potential drop in output from West Africa, the world's main growing region, the market will swing into a deficit.
"In the near term, those deficits aren't being seen. That's one big reason you can't get this market to sustain prices at or above $2,300 (per tonne)," said Galvan.
March cocoa futures on ICE settled down $73 or 3.15 percent at $2,213 per tonne.
As expected, grindings in Asia, where an emerging middle class is eating more chocolate treats, rose 2.8 percent to 155,237 tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2012.
The region has been a pocket of strength while demand in more mature economies of North America and Europe has flat lined.
May cocoa futures on Liffe fell 32 pounds or 2.2 percent to settle 1,448 pounds a tonne.
Raw sugar futures remained under pressure, with March down 0.07 cent or 0.38 percent at 18.30 cents per lb, after touching 18.25 cents earlier in the session, the lowest level for the front month since August 2010.
Dealers and analysts said both the technical and fundamental outlooks for the market were bearish, with a break below 18.25 cents likely to trigger further losses.
"If we close below here, then definitely we're going all the way to around 18 cents," said VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov.
Speculative investors and traders have added short positions, betting on lower prices as the market faces plentiful supplies.
As top producer Brazil's cane crush nears completion, focus has shifted to the coming crop, which is expected to surpass a bumper 2012/13 crush.
Non-commercial dealers added to their net short position for a second straight week in data for the five business days to Jan. 15.
"We need to wait for the next Brazilian estimates in the spring, and nothing is going to change much until then," Kryuchenkov said.
March white sugar on Liffe fell $3.7 or 0.76 percent to $486.1 per tonne. The contract dipped to $485.5 earlier in the session, the lowest level for the front month since June 2010.
(Additional reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Alison Birrane and Grant McCool)