SOFTS-ICE cocoa surges on forward sales, raw sugar hits 3-year low
* ICE cocoa climbs most since September
* Raw sugar touches three-year low as origin selling weighs
* Liffe robusta touches highest level since May
(New throughout, updates with closing prices; adds byline, NEW YORK dateline)
NEW YORK/LONDON, July 16 (Reuters) - ICE cocoa futures climbed the most in ten months on Tuesday, on news that Ivory Coast has forward sold a large portion of its new crop ahead of schedule, prompting worry over tightening supplies in the world's top producer.
Raw sugar futures slipped to a three-year low on origin selling of a bumper crop in Brazil, while Liffe robusta futures hit an almost two-month high.
The September cocoa contract on ICE Futures U.S. closed up $68, or 3.1 percent, at $2,289 a tonne and touched a one-month high of $2,295, as the second month climbed the most since early September.
September cocoa futures on Liffe finished up 37 pounds, or 2.4 percent, at 1,582 pounds a tonne after touching 1,588 pounds, the second month's highest level since December.
Ivory Coast has forward sold 750,000 tonnes of the 2013/14 crop as of the end of June, roughly half of the country's average annual production in the past three years.
The move puts the government close to its forward sale target of 80 percent, leaving the country with less selling left to do and stirring concern over available supplies in the new crop year that begins on Oct. 1.
"It puts the industry in a really tight spot, because they have to buy every day to replace usage," said a veteran cocoa dealer in the United States.
"The specs are not going to be sellers. If they turn buyers here and the market runs up, the industry has to follow it and producers have nothing to sell into the fourth quarter."
Speculators hold net long positions in both ICE and Liffe cocoa futures and options.
North American quarterly grind data will be released on Thursday, with dealers expecting to see a rise of 2 to 5 percent year-over-year.
RAW SUGAR TOUCHES THREE-YEAR LOW
October raw sugar on ICE closed down 0.16 cent per lb, or 1 percent, at 16.00 cents a lb, after falling to $15.93 cents a lb, the weakest level for the front month since July 2010, as hefty supplies and producer selling weighed.
The Brazilian real weakened against the dollar, encouraging shippers in the world's top grower to sell the dollar-traded commodity to mitigate currency losses.
Raw sugar erased earlier gains as origin selling picked up at a session high around 16.20 cents a lb. The descent to a previous low of 16.02 cents a lb triggered sell stops, dealers said.
Liffe October white sugar edged up $2.70, or 0.6 percent, to settle at $483.0 a tonne.
Dealers expected a modest delivery tonnage of about 100,000 against the August expiry on Tuesday, with origins of Brazil, Thai, Central American, and Mexican sugar expected.
Liffe September robusta coffee closed up $42, or 2.2 percent, at $1,946 a tonne, after hitting $1,965, the highest level for the second month since late May.
"The London market is firming as there's much less offer coming out of Vietnam," said Jack Scoville, vice president for Price Futures Group in Chicago.
Premiums above futures prices in the top grower were at their highest in nearly two years and July shipments were expected to be down as farmers held onto production, hoping for higher global prices.
The gains in London lifted the arabica coffee market, dealers said.
ICE September arabica futures finished up 2.7 cents, or 2.2 percent, at $1.2595 per lb, as second-month prices climbed further from a four-year low of 1.1710 cents a lb hit on June 20.
Key growing regions of top producer Brazil may see colder weather over the next six to ten days, according to a Tuesday outlook from U.S.-based MDA Weather Services, prompting concern frost concern.
(Additional reporting by Marcy Nicholson in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy)