SOFTS-Raw sugar consolidates, arabicas slip
* Speculators cut net short in ICE raw sugar
* Robusta coffee on Liffe sets 3-month high
* Industry buying boosts Liffe cocoa
(Adds quote, updates prices)
LONDON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Raw sugar futures on ICE were steady on Monday, consolidating after 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.
Arabica coffee futures on ICE slipped, while cocoa prices also edged lower.
March raw sugar futures on ICE were down 0.01 cents, or 0.1 percent, at 18.88 cents a lb at 1544 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 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 prompted 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.
March white sugar on Liffe fell $1.40, or 0.3 percent, to $501.10 a tonne.
March arabica coffee futures on ICE were off 2.75 cent or 1.9 percent at $1.4520 per lb, weighed partly by a firmer dollar.
Dealers said that based on historical price charts the technical outlook was bearish with potential for further losses.
"The market is weak, it's gone back into the range it's been trading since December," said a London-based broker.
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.
Robusta coffee futures on Liffe climbed to the highest levels in more than three months before falling back.
May robustas stood $11 or 0.5 percent lower at $2,044 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.
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.
Cocoa futures were lower with March futures on ICE down $15, or 0.7 percent, to $2,190 a tonne, while the May contract was down $12 at $2,193 per tonne.
Volumes have been boosted by heavy activity on the March/May spread <CC-1=R> at around level money.
May cocoa on Liffe was down 9 pounds at 1,435 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."
Cocoa arrivals at ports in top grower Ivory Coast reached around 854,000 tonnes by Feb. 3 since the start of the season in October, exporters estimated on Monday, compared with 902,650 tonnes in the same period of the previous season.
(Additional reporting by Sarah McFarlane; editing by Anthony Barker and Keiron Henderson)