SOFTS-Raw sugar edges up, robustas set 3-month high
* Speculators cut net short in ICE raw sugar
* Robusta coffee on Liffe sets 3-month high
* Industry buying boosts Liffe cocoa
(Adds quotes, updates prices)
LONDON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Raw sugar futures on ICE edged up on Monday, extending a rebound from a more than two-year low set last month, with support from price charts and the prospect of more competition for Brazil's cane crop from ethanol producers.
Robusta coffee futures on Liffe touched a three-month high before falling back to little changed levels, while cocoa prices were flat.
March raw sugar futures on ICE were up 0.06 cents, or 0.3 percent, at 18.95 cents a lb at 1258 GMT. The front month had dipped to 18.06 cents on Jan. 23, its lowest level since August 2010.
The market has been on a prolonged downtrend driven by the prospect of a third consecutive global surplus in 2012/13.
"Near-term we see the potential for some support returning to sugar despite the headwinds created by the large harvest," Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy for Saxo Bank, said in a research note on Monday.
Hansen said the the market was boosted by constructive chart formations and last week's decision by the Brazilian government to allow the ethanol content in gasoline to rise, starting on May 1.
Dealers said the market's improved performance had promped some speculators to trim a huge net short position.
Speculators cut their net short position in raw sugar contracts on ICE Futures U.S., in the week to Jan. 29, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.
However, Jamal Al Ghurair, managing director of Al Khaleej Sugar and head of the Dubai refinery, said on Sunday that ICE raw sugar futures are expected to fall to close to 16 cents per lb this year because of oversupply and weak demand.
March white sugar on Liffe fell $0.50, or 0.1 percent, to $502.00 a tonne.
The Al Khaleej Dubai refinery has briefly halted sugar processing as part of its routine "start-and-stop" strategy, its managing director said on Monday.
Robusta coffee futures on Liffe climbed to the highest levels in more than three months before falling back to little changed levels.
May robustas stood $1 or a marginal 0.05 percent higher at $2,056 a tonne after peaking at $2,074, the highest level for the second month since Oct. 22, 2012.
The market was boosted last week by the rebalancing of the Rogers International Commodity index with Liffe robustas added at the expense of ICE arabicas.
The index-related buying took place from Wednesday through Friday last week and dealers said the market's ability to hold gains on Monday was seen as constructive.
The rise in prices triggered a pick-up in Vietnamese sales although dealers said hedging pressure on Monday was light.
Dealers said roasters were currently on the sidelines, unwilling to pay higher prices.
"The roasters were left behind at the beginning of last week," one dealer said.
Prices have risen around $100 after trading as low as $1,954 last Tuesday before the index-related buying emerged.
March arabica coffee futures on ICE were off 0.55 cent or 0.4 percent at $1.4740 per lb, weighed partly by a firmer dollar.
New York March coffee is biased to break below support at $1.4655 and fall more to $1.4490 per lb, as indicated by its wave pattern and a wedge, according to Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.
Cocoa futures were little changed with March futures on ICE up $2, or 0.1 percent, to $2,207 a tonne, while the May contract was unchanged at $2,205 per tonne.
Volumes have been boosted by heavy activity on the March/May spread <CC-1=R> at around level money.
Dealers noted concern that a dispute in top grower Ivory Coast could lead to delays in the shipment of mid-crop cocoa.
Cocoa exporters in top grower Ivory Coast said on Friday that they could boycott the April to September mid-crop harvest after rejecting a price discount on mid-crop beans proposed by the country's marketing board.
May cocoa on Liffe was unchanged at 1,444 pounds a tonne.
"Industry buying is supporting London. If the industry suddenly decide they've got enough cover that could then put the market under pressure," said a UK-based broker.
"If London closes below the recent low of 1,422 pounds, that would indicate London's attempt to build a base has failed."
(Additional reporting by Sarah McFarlane; Editing by Anthony Barker)