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Thai Sugar Premium Holds Steady as Crop Gains, SSB Says

The premium buyers are prepared to pay to obtain sugar from Thailand, the world’s second-largest shipper, is holding steady even as half of the crop has been harvested, according to Swiss Sugar Brokers.

Thai sugar for loading in February and March was selling at a premium of 0.5 cent a pound above the price of the March contract on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange in New York, data from the Rolle, Switzerland-based company show. That compares with a premium of 0.55 cent on Feb. 3. The so-called J-spec sugar for March delivery was at a premium of 0.15 cent to 0.25 cent a pound, from 0.2 cent to 0.3 cent a pound on Feb. 3, the broker said.

Thailand’s sugar production reached 5.15 million metric tons in the first 85 days of the current crushing season, according to data from the Office of Cane and Sugar Board. The country is forecast to produce 9.9 million tons in 2011-12. The season there started in November.

Thai raw sugar remains “supported” and J-spec offers are “scarce,” Naim Beydoun, a broker at Swiss Sugar Brokers, wrote in a report e-mailed yesterday.

“Wondering why the values are holding when the Thai crop has reached more than 5.1 million tons,” Beydoun wrote.

The cane crop in Thailand will end “much earlier” than last year, Andrew Slinger, a Singapore-based director at Armajaro Trading Group Ltd., said on Feb. 6 at a Kingsman sugar conference in Dubai. The harvest will be between 98 million and 102 million tons, down from a previous forecast of 103 million tons, he said.

Raw sugar for May delivery slid 0.8 percent to 23.51 cents a pound on ICE by 10:38 a.m. London time. White, or refined, sugar for May delivery was down 0.4 percent at $630.60 a ton on NYSE Liffe in London.

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