LONDON, Feb 8 (Reuters) - White sugar futures on ICE (NYSE: ICE ) rose to their highest in nearly four years on Monday buoyed by physical supply tightness that has spurred interest in the front month March LSUH1 contract ahead of this week's expiry.
Cocoa and coffee retreated.
* March white sugar LSUc1 , which expires this Friday, was 0.4% higher at $476.80 per tonne by 1238 GMT after peaking at $479.70, the highest since April 2017.
* Tightness in the physical market linked to a global shortage of shipping containers has pushed the March contract to a wide premium over May LSU-1=R as buyers head to the exchange to source supplies.
* March raw sugar SBc1 rose 0.2% to 16.46 cents per lb.
* Speculators cut their bullish bet in ICE raw sugar by 6,171 contracts to 149,896 contracts in the week to Feb 2, data showed. Broker Marex Spectron said sugar pundits may have been under-estimating consumption for several years, hence the current high prices which do not seem otherwise justified by fundamentals.
* In news, Brazil's Raizen has reached an agreement to buy Biosev BSEV3.SA , the sugar unit controlled by Louis Dreyfus, in a cash and stock deal, the companies said. May New York cocoa CCc2 fell 0.6% to $2,458 a tonne.
* Speculators increased a bullish bet in New York cocoa by 1,877 contracts to 12,255 contracts in the week to Feb 2. Cocoa prices are seen falling below current levels by the end of 2021 as demand remains slow due to the nagging impact from the coronavirus pandemic, and a large surplus is also expected, a Reuters poll showed. May London cocoa LCCc2 fell 0.6% to 1,659 pounds per tonne.
* March arabica coffee KCc1 fell 0.4% to $1.2420 per lb.
* Arabica is being held back by rising exchange stocks, but the downside is also underpinned as adverse weather in top producer Brazil is expected to hit the upcoming crop. Speculators raised their long position in arabica coffee futures to 22,827 contracts in the week to Feb. 2. May robusta coffee LRCc2 fell 0.3% to $1,355 a tonne.
* Top robusta producer Vietnam exported 160,615 tonnes of coffee in January, up 10.2% from a year earlier, data showed. (Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
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