SOFTS-Cocoa hits 2-week high in biggest gain since November
* Technical buying, Ivory Coast supply concerns lift cocoa
* Vietnam coffee trade slows ahead of holidays
* Brazil considers cutting ethanol tax
(New throughout, updates prices; adds second byline, dateline, analysts comments)
NEW YORK/LONDON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Cocoa futures on ICE climbed to a two-week high on Tuesday and notched the largest one-day gain since mid-November, spurred by technical buying and supply concerns in top-grower Ivory Coast.
Robusta coffee futures on Liffe jumped to a three-month high, while ICE raw sugar futures were underpinned by developments in Brazil's ethanol industry including potential tax cuts
March cocoa futures on ICE were up $54, or 2.5 percent, to settle at $2,246 a tonne after earlier touching $2,249, the highest since level since Jan. 22. It was the largest single-day rally since Nov. 14.
Total volume was heavy, exceeding 41,000 lots by 12:40 p.m. EST (1740 GMT), preliminary Thomson Reuters data showed.
"We are seeing a topside breakout coming from an oversold market. We definitely had some stops triggered," said Sterling Smith, futures specialist for Citigroup in Chicago, referring to breaking above recent session highs that initiated automatic buy orders.
While some said there was little fundamental news behind the bounce, Hector Galvan, a senior market strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago, pointed to Ivory Coast, where dry weather and pirate activity raised the specter of supply disruption from the world's largest producer.
Dry, hot weather in the African nation has prompted concern over output and bean quality. Meanwhile, the hijacking of a French tanker off the Ivorian coast added to worries over the country's cocoa exports.
"Any instability in the region is bullish cocoa," Galvan said.
May cocoa on Liffe rose 34 pounds, or 2.4 percent, to settle at 1,468 pounds a tonne.
May robusta coffee futures rose $24, or 1.1 percent, to $2,071 a tonne, after earlier spiking to $2,088, the highest level since Oct. 22, supported by a slowdown in origin sales. Robusta has climbed nearly 7 percent over the last five sessions.
"Vietnam are not an aggressive seller now because they are running into Tet," said a London-based broker, referring to holidays between Feb. 9 and 17 to mark the Lunar New Year.
Coffee exports from Vietnam, the world's largest robusta producer, could drop by a quarter to a half from January's shipments as less activity is expected in holiday-shortened February, traders said.
"Exports from Vietnam are probably going to be down. That, with the Tet Holiday tightening supply, is giving us some support. You have some willingness from people in the futures market to take some coverage here," said Smith of Citigroup.
March arabica coffee futures on ICE were up a modest 0.35 cent, or 0.2 percent, at $1.4470 per lb, not far above December's two-and-a-half year low of $1.4220 per lb on a second-month basis.
Surplus supplies of arabica coffee after a bumper crop in Brazil and improving prospects for the 2013/14 crop in the world's top producer weighed.
"In addition to ample supplies at present, the outlook for the forthcoming harvest in Brazil has improved now that heavy rain is expected in the country's coffee-growing areas over the next few days," Commerzbank said in a commodities note.
SUGAR EDGES UP
The Brazilian government could cut taxes on sugarcane-derived ethanol, Energy Minister Edison Lobao said, as part of an effort to alleviate pressures on the biofuel sector, which has been struggling to compete with gasoline due to rising costs.
Last week, Brazil announced price increases for gasoline and diesel along with an increase to 25 percent ethanol in the gasoline blend, from 20 percent, starting on May 1. That was interpreted as supportive of the ethanol market and could require more sugar cane to produce the fuel and help erode a glut of raw sugar.
March raw sugar futures on ICE were up 0.08 cent, or 0.4 percent, at 18.81 cents a lb on Tuesday.
"Following the Brazil news it's (the outlook) less bearish than it was," said Jack Pollard, an analyst at brokerage Sucden Financial.
March white sugar on Liffe rose $2.90, or 0.6 percent, to $501.40 a tonne.
(Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Alden Bentley)