ICE raw sugar futures closed lower in choppy trade on Friday amid month-end profit-taking, while cocoa ended little changed as its spreads hit contract lows on heavy West African supplies.
Coffee traded higher, while the commodity complex posted its biggest one-day loss in two weeks as investors fled to safe havens on concern about sovereign debt crises on both sides of the Atlantic.
Raw sugar futures fell on profit-taking, but most players appeared reluctant to take aggressive positions before an August 2 deadline for the United States to raise its debt ceiling or risk default.
"All the other markets, including sugar, will be anxiously waiting to see if they reach an agreement before August 2," said Alex Oliveira, senior sugar analyst at brokerage Newedge USA.
Article continues below
October raw sugar on ICE dropped 0.11 cent to finish at 29.81 cents (Dh1.06) per pound, below the contract high of 31.68 cents touched on Monday.
The market had been underpinned by concerns over the size of the Brazilian crop due to a combination of weather factors and aging cane plants. Brazil is the world's top sugar producer and exporter.
"The bears need to keep yesterday's victorious momentum burning and test the support around 29 cents and the bulls need to get a close back above 30 cents quickly," Thomas Kujawa, analyst at brokerage Sucden Financial said.
Dealers said recent high prices were curbing physical demand as buyers hoped prices would correct lower.
October white sugar on Liffe fell $11.60 (Dh42.57) to close at $777.40 per tonne, after touching a contract high of $821.00 on Monday. A European broker said in a daily report that the centre-south Brazil vessel line-up had shrunk after big delays in recent months. The delays had been caused by a lack of availability of cane after a slow start to the harvest.
Speculators raised their net long position in raw sugar futures and options by 12 per cent to a 1-1/2-year high in the week ended July 26, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed post-market.
Cocoa futures on ICE closed flat to lower, with nearby contracts getting a lift off their lows from a strong pound against the dollar and firm industry offtake, while the currency pressured Liffe cocoa to a weak settlement.
Pressure from a bumper 2010/11 crop, however, pushed the September/December spread to contract lows ahead of the index fund roll on ICE scheduled for August 5 to 9.
"There's still a small long position in the market. The open interest has gone up in the back months and that's industry buying," said Nick Gentile, head of trading for Atlantic Capital Advisors in New Jersey.
September cocoa on ICE closed steady at $2,974 a tonne, finishing the month down 5.6 per cent and marking the first monthly close below $3,000 since March.
Speculators turned net short in US cocoa, after holding a net long position for three weeks, the CFTC data showed.
London December cocoa finished £9 (Dh54.27) lower at £1,885 per tonne.
Threat of frost
Valid cocoa stocks in NYSE Liffe's nominated warehouses as of July 25 rose to 107,470 tonnes from 101,770 on July 11, exchange data showed.
Arabica coffee futures on ICE firmed in an inside day, with upside price potential limited as dealers noted the threat of frost in top producer Brazil was receding as the end of the month neared. July is seen as the riskiest month for frost, which can damage Brazilian crops.
"It's technically oversold. You have people who are bottom-picking here," Gentile said.