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LONDON: London cocoa futures were lower on Thursday, weakened by concerns over a backlog of unsold supplies in top grower Ivory Coast and the strength of sterling, with sugar prices also down.

March London cocoa fell 23 pounds, or 1.3%, to 1,739 pounds a tonne by 1457 GMT. The pound set a 2-1/2 year high against the dollar on Thursday.

Dealers said that slightly stronger than expected fourth-quarter cocoa grind data had buoyed prices this week but the focus has begun to return to bearish fundamentals, with top grower Ivory Coast holding a large backlog of unsold cocoa.

March New York cocoa was down $20, or 0.8%, at $2,548 a tonne. The front month rose to a peak of $2,624 on Wednesday, its highest since Jan. 4.

March raw sugar was down 0.26 cents, or 1.6%, at 16.01 cents per lb. The front month set a 3-1/2 year peak of 16.75 cents last week.

Dealers said the recent fund-driven rally appeared to have run out of steam while Indian mills were looking to sell more sugar on the global market as stocks pile up.

March white sugar was down $9.20, or 2%, at $446.80 a tonne.

March arabica coffee rose 0.65 cents, or 0.5%, to $1.2585 per lb.

Brazilian coffee farmers face an off-year in their biennial cycle, with output seen falling by as much as 30.5% this year to as little as 43.8 million 60 kg bags, a report by the country’s food supply and statistics agency Conab showed on Thursday. March robusta coffee was down $7, or 0.5%, at $1,333 a tonne.

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