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LONDON: Raw sugar futures on ICE slid more than 3% on Thursday as rising COVID-19 cases in Europe prompted a broad-based selloff in wider financial markets while coffee prices also fell.

May raw sugar fell by 0.55 cent, or 3.5% to 15.08 cents per lb at 1508 GMT after equalling a three-month low of 15.05 cents set on Tuesday.

Dealers said further weakness in Brazil’s real, one of the worst-performing emerging market currencies year-to-date, added to downward pressure on prices.

A weaker real encourages Brazilian exporters to sell dollar-priced commodities such as sugar and coffee because it raises their returns in local currency terms.

Mills in Brazil’s centre-south area, the world’s largest sugar producing region, got off to a slow start in the 2021/22 season as cane crushing in the first half of March came in 43% below the volumes seen in the same period a year earlier.

May white sugar fell 2.55% to $438.80 a tonne.

An Ethiopian state buyer has issued an international tender to buy up to 320,000 tonnes of white sugar, European traders said.

May arabica coffee fell 1.05 cents or 0.8% to $1.2545 per lb?, also weighed by the weakness of Brazil’s real currency.

Concerns about weak demand are also weighing on coffee, with COVID-19 lockdowns in major consumers such as Germany and France set to curb out-of-home consumption of mostly arabica coffee beans.

May robusta coffee fell 0.8% to $1,355 a tonne.

May New York cocoa rose 0.4% to $2,445 a tonne.

“We maintain our New York cocoa 2021 price average (forecast) at $2,505. The (market) is likely to remain in surplus through 2021/22, and 2021 grindings across the Northern Hemisphere will probably not recover to pre-COVID levels until next year,” said Citi in a note.

May London cocoa rose 0.9% to 1,742 pounds per tonne.