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Front-month premium for white sugar rises on lack of tenderable supplies

* Pace of EU white sugar exports slows

* Less deliverable sugar seen available in Central America

LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - Reduced availability of white sugar from Central America and the European Union on the market has pushed front-month sugar futures prices to a premium, despite a looming global supply glut.

May white sugar futures on ICE moved to a premium over the next position in recent days, with the spread widening to more than $10 per tonne on Monday.

Global white sugar prices fell to 2-1/2 year lows this month on concerns about a surplus as the EU, Thailand and India all sharply boosted production this season, but those concerns are now offset by a lack of tenderable sugar available from Central American producers such as Guatemala.

They typically provide a large portion of the supplies delivered against the May contract.

While most of the world's white sugar is now shipped in containers, ICE futures are based on the traditional method of transporting supplies in large volumes in cargo ships or vessels known as bulkers.

This means not all origins can be tendered on the exchange.

"The world is not short of sugar," said one dealer. "It's just short of tenderable sugar. So that's creating a bit of technical tightness."

Worries about this shortfall have been aggravated by EU producers' reluctance to deliver their excess sugar to the exchange at current prices, dealers said.

The EU exported 262,000 tonnes of sugar in February, the lowest monthly total so far in the 2017/18 season (October/September), according to European Commission figures published on Monday.

A further decline appears likely in March with just 145,000 tonnes shipped in the first 20 days of the month.

"The EU producers have somewhat shied away from the market, even though they've got a glut of sugar themselves," a second dealer said. "They're just lying low for the moment, hoping for a price recovery."

Meanwhile, front-month supplies from other origins remain scarce. Refined sugar from top cane grower Brazil is not typically available yet, while exports from India are seen as unlikely in the short term as domestic prices remain well above the global market.

Industry sources said several large trading houses have taken an aggressive stance on the front month in anticipation of short-term tightness in deliverable supplies.

However, the strength in spot futures prices has helped boost refining margins, which could inspire refineries in Thailand and the Middle East to churn out more white sugar, dealers noted.

The premium for spot white sugar over its raw sugar equivalent has climbed above $74 per tonne recently, more than $20 off lows hit in February.

"It's going to end up stimulating needless supply from refiners," the second dealer said. "It's just extra white sugar no one needs." (Additional reporting by Nigel Hunt Editing by Susan Fenton)