SOFTS-Cocoa jumps to multi-month peaks, raw sugar extends gains

(Rewrites throughout, updates prices; adds comment, NEW YORK dateline) NEW YORK/LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - Cocoa futures on ICE rallied to multi-month highs and technically overbought levels on Thursday on diminishing crop prospects in top grower Ivory Coast, and raw sugar extended gains after the March contract expired.


* May London cocoa settled up 28 pounds, or 1.8 percent, at 1,610 pounds per tonne, having climbed to the highest since Nov. 17 at 1,614 pounds.

* The second-position contract rose above 78 on the relative strength index (RSI), the most technically overbought level since July 2016.

* Weakness in sterling provided some support for the London market, traders said.

* May New York cocoa settled up $32, or 1.4 percent, at $2,250 per tonne, after rising to $2,279, the highest since Dec. 21. It rose above 73 on the RSI, the highest since April 2016.

* The rally was fueled by reduced prospects for Ivory Coast output, traders said.

* Ivory Coast's Coffee and Cocoa Council has sold forward up to 170,000 tonnes more main crop export contracts than it is now expected to produce, two senior officials with the marketing board told Reuters.

* The International Cocoa Organization forecast late Wednesday there would be a global cocoa surplus of 105,000 tonnes in the 2017/18 season (October/September), down from the prior year's 300,000-tonne surplus.


* May raw sugar settled up 0.33 cent, or 2.5 percent, at 13.71 cents per lb, continuing the prior session's short covering rally, traders said.

* The move came after March expired on Wednesday, with

Alvean and Wilmar International Ltd scooping up 14,618

lots against the contract, according to ICE and traders.

* "It appears that neither the trade/commercials nor the specs, the latter already very short, have the appetite to chase the market lower below 13 cents at present," said Agrilion Commodity Advisers in a note.

* Abundant supplies were seen capping further gains, with the International Sugar Organization raising its forecast for a projected global sugar 2017-18 surplus to 5.15 million tonnes, up from a previous forecast of 5.03 million.

* May white sugar settled up $7.20, or 2 percent, at $368.50 per tonne.


* May robusta coffee settled up $44, or 2.6 percent, at $1,768 per tonne, its first increase in seven sessions and strongest one-day jump since September.

* Prices were supported by buying related to the March

contract's first notice day, traders said, with that

contract's premium over May <LRCH8-K8> rising to $39 from $34 on Wednesday

* May arabica coffee settled up 1.95 cents, or 1.6 percent, at $1.2395 per lb.

(Reporting by Marcy Nicholson Editing by James Dalgleish)