SOFTS-Robusta near 6-month low as Vietnam's harvest picks up

* Robusta supported by tight supply and demand outlook

* Lower sugar prices trigger end user pricing

(Adds quotes, updates prices)

LONDON, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Robusta coffee futures rose on Thursday from a six-month low the previous day as harvest progress picked up in top world producer Vietnam, where a second consecutive bumper crop is expected.

Raw sugar futures were steady, supported by end-user pricing, while cocoa was firm.

January robusta coffee futures were up $18 or 0.9 percent at $1,986 a tonne at 1508 GMT after touching $1,965 on Wednesday, the lowest level for the second-month since April, under pressure from ample Vietnamese supplies.

``What you're seeing now is a technical recovery from that (Wednesday's low),'' said Andrea Thompson, analyst at CoffeeNetwork, part of INTL FCStone, adding that prices should consolidate in the short term.

``Not many people would expect to see notable further losses from here because you have got expectations for record robusta crop and another big Vietnamese crop, but global robusta demand is so strong that the balance is likely to remain tight.''

Robustas from Vietnam changed hands at discounts to London futures this week as the harvest progressed, while tight supply and sporadic demand from exporters kept Indonesian beans at premiums for prompt shipment, dealers said on Thursday.

December arabica coffee futures were up 0.4 cent or 0.3 percent at $1.5490 per lb. The second-month hit $1.5880 earlier in the session, the lowest level since Sept. 7.


March sugar futures were steady, trading down 0.04 cents or 0.2 percent at 19.42 cents a lb, remaining near Monday's five-week low of 19.27 cents, as dealers said lower prices encouraged some end user pricing.

In the absence of fresh fundamental drivers, prices were expected to remain range bound in the near term.

``The market will tend to hover around the lower end and from time to time will test new lows. The only thing that will change that will be a very weak dollar or a sudden increase, a substantial increase, in demand and I don't see that at the moment,'' a London-based broker said.

Demand for physical sugar was also weak, analysts said.

``Physical sugar is trading at steep discounts to futures, which suggests that physical demand is lacking a bit. The market is sluggish and to uncover buying we need to drop in price to allow import margins to get positive,'' said James Kirkup, director of sugar brokerage at ABN AMRO Markets Ltd.

December white sugar on Liffe was down $2.10 or 0.3 percent at $539.90 per tonne.

December's premium over March remained firm at $18.70 per tonne in the lead up to December's expiry on November 15.

ICE December cocoa was $10 higher at $2,398 per tonne, but dealers said that origin selling kept prices under pressure.

``There's been Ghana activity in the market, they have been quite active sellers but it has been very well absorbed,'' said a London-based broker.

``It shows the underlying strength the market has... even with the natural selling pressure that origin selling would normally bring.''

Ghana's cocoa purchases hit 86,028 tonnes by Oct. 19 since the season started on Oct. 12, down sharply from the 152,365 tonnes recorded in same period of the 2011-12 season, Cocobod data showed on Thursday.

Benchmark Liffe March cocoa futures were up 1 pound at 1,549 pounds per tonne, remaining stuck within the range the market has traded since December.

``The market is not striving out in any direction. The end users and the industry are certainly not charging at the market to be any sort of panic buyers. The market is pretty much flat lining,'' added the broker.

Cocoa stocks at Ivory Coast's ports of Abidjan and San Pedro stood at 185,832 tonnes on Oct. 2, the last day of the 2011-12 season, according to figures from the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

(Reporting by Sarah McFarlane and Clare Hutchison; editing by Jane Baird and Jason Neely)