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LONDON: Raw and white sugar futures on ICE slipped on Thursday after hitting contract highs in the previous session amid nearby supply tightness, while cocoa prices retreated.

March raw sugar dipped 0.4% to 16.64 cents per lb at 1700 GMT, having hit 17.05 cents on Wednesday, a March contract high and the highest for a front-month raws futures contract since April 2017.

March white sugar, which expires on Friday, fell 0.9% to $475.10 a tonne, having hit $479.50 on Wednesday, also a contract high and the highest for a front-month whites contract since April 2017.

Dealers said nearby supplies were tightening amid a global shipping container shortage, with March raws and whites futures trading at a wide premium to May, and the curve backwardated for some months beyond that.

Looking further ahead though, the global sugar market is expected to shift into a 5.18 million tonne surplus in the 2021/22 season, driven partly by higher output in Thailand and India, Tropical Research Services said.

March New York cocoa slid 8.9% to $2,435 a tonne, while May New York cocoa, where much of the open interest is, was down 2.4% at $2,434 a tonne.

Dealers said the March contract was reversing course after hitting the highest since mid-December on Wednesday amid a short squeeze that sent it to a premium of nearly $200 a tonne over May.

Facing poor demand, Ivory Coast has reduced a quality premium that cocoa exporters pay for the mid-crop harvest by 320 pounds ($443) per tonne to turn it into a discount.

March London cocoa fell 1.7% to 1,741 pounds per tonne.

May arabica coffee fell 0.3% to $1.2280 per lb??, having hit its weakest since Jan. 12 on Wednesday.

May robusta coffee fell 1.2% to $1,358 a tonne, having hit its highest since Jan. 4 on Wednesday.

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