Recasts, includes comments from brokers, closing prices
NEW YORK/LONDON, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Raw sugar futures on ICE closed 1.7% down on Thursday amid reports of more rains in producing areas in Brazil and reduced export activity, while robusta coffee hovered just below a recent 10-year high.
* March raw sugar SBc1 settled down 0.32 cent, or 1.7%, at a week-low of 18.78 cents per lb.
* Dealers said rains in Brazil continued to improve soil moisture levels in key growing regions and the outlook for next year's cane crop.
* They also cited falling export activity, with shipments from Brazil falling more than 20% from the same time last year.
* "The question is whether this is a demand or a supply issue," said a U.S. broker, referring to reduced Brazilian production at this time of the year.
* Analyst Claudio Covrig said Chinese imports were limited since local prices in the Asian country were lower, hitting refining margins. "The arbitrage for sugar imports out of quota is closed", he said.
* March white sugar LSUc1 fell $6.40, or 1.3%, to $494.70 a tonne.
* March robusta coffee LRCc2 settled up $9, or 0.4%, at $2,373 a tonne. The benchmark second position climbed to a 10-year high of $2,381 last week.
* Dealers said supply chain issues had disrupted shipments from top robusta producer Vietnam this year with exports expected to show a drop of 2.7%.
* Dealers noted that January's premium to March LRC-1=R had been widening as traders holding short positions in the front month opted to cover rather than tender coffee. It was trading around $122 a tonne on Thursday.
* Only one lot, of Brazilian conilon coffee, had been tendered against the January contract as of Dec. 29.
* March arabica coffee KCc1 was flat at $2.2885 per lb.
* March London cocoa LCCc1 settled up 11 pounds, or 0.6%, to 1,710 pounds per tonne.
* March New York cocoa CCc1 rose $44, or 1.7%, to $2,559 a tonne.
* A U.S.-based broker said the rise in cocoa prices for the third consecutive session appeared related to investors covering short positions ahead of the end of the year, since the weather has been mostly positive for production in Africa.
(Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira and Nigel Hunt; Editing by David Clarke and Shinjini Ganguli)
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