SOFTS-ICE cocoa, coffee drop on U.S. economic data, sugar gains
* Ivorian cocoa grinder to shut for up to three months
* Rebalancing of Rogers index to boost robusta coffee
* Sugar gets lift from Brazil gasoline, diesel prices
(New throughout, updates with closing prices)
NEW YORK/LONDON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Cocoa futures on ICE revisited a seven-month low on Wednesday and coffee fell after data showed the U.S. economy contracted in the fourth quarter.
Raw sugar futures on ICE Futures U.S. rose, boosted by a decision by Brazil to raise fuel prices, and by short-covering.
"The softs markets are concentrating basically on the outside markets. People are waiting to see how the Fed reports, to see if there's any market news there," said Hector Galvan, a senior market strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago.
The U.S. Federal Reserve was wrapping up a two-day meeting on Wednesday.
U.S. equities fell after U.S. GDP data showed the economy contracted unexpectedly in the fourth quarter of 2012.
March cocoa futures on ICE fell $16, or 0.73 percent, to settle at $2,179 a tonne. Prices recovered after dropping as low as $2,155 a tonne, which was a new seven-month low.
With plentiful global supplies, the market barely registered news that Ivory Coast cocoa exporter SAF Cacao's processing facility will be closed for up to three months following a fire.
"Usually something like that would be bullish to the price, but we're not seeing that. It gives me this picture that the market isn't prepared to turn around very easily right now," Galvan said.
May cocoa on Liffe fell 15 pounds, or 1.04 percent, to finish at 1,429 pounds a tonne.
Dealers said an improving outlook for crops in West Africa after a slow start to the season kept pressure on prices.
Arabica coffee prices edged down, with March falling 2.1 cent, or 1.4 percent, to close at $1.477 per lb.
ICE coffee prices were expected to feel pressure from a rebalancing of the Rogers International Commodity Index, the index moves away from ICE arabica in favor of robusta.
The rebalancing is bearish for ICE arabica coffee as it will no longer be a component. The index is including robusta coffee for the first time with a 2 percent weighting. The change is to be implemented in the January roll period, which was to begin Wednesday and ends Friday, and was expected to lift robusta.
"For robusta it will definitely be quite an important impact," said Romain Lathiere, head of dealing at Diapason Commodities Management.
March robusta coffee on Liffe increased $32, or 1.65 percent, to close at $1,968 a tonne.
Other changes in the Rogers index include a switch to Liffe cocoa from ICE cocoa, the addition of Liffe white sugar and a reduction in the weighting for ICE raw sugar.
Dealers said the arabica market was also underpinned by the threat to crops in Central America from roya, or leaf rust, but forecasts of a record crop from top grower Brazil were helping to keep a lid on prices.
Lathiere said he was surprised that prices had not risen after warnings that the devastating disease will slash output from Central America, home to more than one-fifth of the world's arabica output.
"We know there will be problem for high quality beans and the demand for this kind of product is still important," he said.
March raw sugar futures on ICE rose 0.33 cents, or 1.8 percent, to settle at 18.71 cents, supported by a late Tuesday decision by the Brazilian government to raise wholesale prices for gasoline and diesel.
The move provided a "lifeline" to the sugar and ethanol sectors, which are biofuel alternatives, Michael McDougall, a vice president at Newedge in New York, said in a morning note.
Dealers said speculators have started to cover a net short position that has risen to the largest in seven years, according to data issued last week by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
March white sugar on Liffe rose $9.00, or 1.8 percent, to settle at $496.80 a tonne.
(editing by James Jukwey and Keiron Henderson; editing by Carol Bishopric; and Peter Galloway)