SOFTS-Liffe cocoa falls to 10-month low on good supply prospects
(Updates prices, adds quotes, New York dateline)
* Cocoa mid-crop looks to be record - dealers
* Sugar March-May spread widens as contract expiry nears
* Certified robusta stocks expected to rise
NEW YORK/LONDON, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Liffe cocoa futures hit a 10-month low on Tuesday, under pressure from good supply prospects for West Africa's mid crops, and raw sugar inched up on short-covering and signs of increased demand.
Coffee futures declined as expectations of large global supplies put pressure on prices.
Cocoa dealers said the West African mid-crop may be poised to reach record levels, though there may be survival concerns for the production further down the line. Favorable weather conditions pressured prices on both ICE Futures U.S. and Liffe on Monday.
May cocoa on Liffe dropped 1 pound, or 0.07 percent, to settle at 1,408 pounds, after earlier falling to 1,403 pounds, the lowest level since April 2012.
"The flowering on the trees and the pod-setting looked very good for the mid crop, but then some are suggesting the pod survival rate may not be good," said Eric Sivry, head of agriculture options brokerage at Marex Spectron.
May cocoa futures on ICE fell $25, or 1.2 percent, to finish at $2,119 per tonne after dipping to $2,117 earlier in the session, the lowest level since June 2012.
"The short-term fundamentals are that the market is well-supplied. We'll start to draw down those supplies, and that should quell the bearish behavior but in the meantime the marketing is a little tired and there's downward momentum," said Sterling Smith, a futures specialist for Citigroup in Chicago.
Cameroon's cocoa exports rose almost 15 percent in the five months to the end of January, compared with the same period last season, National Cocoa and Coffee Board statistics showed on Tuesday.
SUGAR RISES FROM 2-1/2-YEAR LOW
March raw sugar futures on ICE rose 0.33 cent, or 1.8 percent, to 18.33 cents per lb at 12:48 p.m. EST (1739 GMT).
"Everybody's been looking for demand to help stabilize prices, and now we've seen some," Jack Scoville, vice president of Price Futures Group said, pointing to Iraq's recent orders of refined sugar as supportive for raw sugar prices.
Iraq has again tendered to purchase at least 50,000 tonnes of white sugar to be sourced from any optional origins excluding India and Thailand, European traders said on Tuesday.
Last Friday, Iraq purchased 200,000 tonnes of the sweetener from Thailand and Algeria.
Technical buying after raw sugar futures reached their lowest level since August 2010 last week also contributed to Tuesday's gains.
"There's some short-covering," another London-based broker said. "I don't think it's anything fundamental. At the end of the day there's going to be a lot of sugar around."
Speculators raised their net short position in raw sugar contracts to the largest since data became publicly available in 2006 in the week to Feb. 12, according to U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data.
Dealers monitored the widening of the March premium over May <SB-1=R> as the March contract neared its expiry at the end of the month.
May white sugar on Liffe slid $0.70, or 0.1 percent, to $497.20 a tonne.
Heavy supply prospects have kept prices under pressure as crop outlooks improved for top producers Brazil and India.
May arabica coffee futures on ICE fell 1.4 cent, or 1 percent, to $1.388 per lb, its lowest level since June 2010.
In robusta coffee, dealers said gradings on the exchange may have put some pressure on the front-month ahead of it's becoming deliverable on March 1.
The March contract traded at around a $38 discount to May <LRC-1=R>, having traded at a premium earlier this month.
"There has been some coffee graded, so it will be interesting to see when the certified stocks come out if they have increased a bit," a London-based broker said.
May robusta coffee futures on Liffe dropped $14, down 0.7 percent, to $2,043 a tonne.
The next certified stock update is due from the exchange on Thursday.
(Editing by Grant McCool)