COCOA, COFFEE FUTURES TRADE LOWER AHEAD OF THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY

COCOA, COFFEE FUTURES TRADE LOWER AHEAD OF THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY

Cocoa futures slipped as buyers hesitated ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday while coffee lost ground awaiting news of the expected resignation of Brazil's industry and commerce minister.

The cocoa market paused for breath after Friday's surge, but still traded lower by late afternoon. The active March contract was off $10 at $1,265 a metric ton. The spot December, now in the delivery period, was off $11 at $1,245.Traders said a combination of the short week as well as no new reports about the health of the Cote d'Ivoire president kept activity in check Monday.

With the market closed Thursday and Friday, traders were reluctant to

purchase much ahead of the holiday. "The people who wanted to buy probably did so last week," a trader said, predicting that uneventful trading will characterize the next few sessions.

The market also took a wait-and-see attitude about renewed concerns Cote d'Ivoire President Felix Houphouet-Boigny may be near death. "He's ill. Just how ill, we don't know," a trader said. Many cocoa analysts consider him the driving force behind that country's cocoa marketing, a major foreign revenue producer.

Speculators and the trade dominated both buying and selling. "They just don't know where they're going," one floor trader said.

Coffee prices turned lower again Monday afternoon after small gains earlier. The market was waiting for confirmation of reports last week that Brazilian Industry and Commerce Minister Jose Andrade Vieira planned to resign to pursue elected office.

Afternoon trading sent March down 0.09 cents, to 77.25 cents a pound.

On Friday, prices plummeted on worries that Mr. Vieira's resignation would mean disaster for the coffee export retention plan he helped design. ''People knew (about Vieira's aspirations), but when they see it in writing, it scares them," a trader said.

However, some traders said, those fears may have been overdone. "The retention will continue with Vieira or without Vieira," a trader said.

Another trader said the plan has the backing of higher authorities. "The agreement was signed by presidents, not ministers," he said.

Sentiment about the retention plan has been plagued by concerns about Brazil's ability to get its part of the plan moving. The world's major coffee producers signed an agreement during the summer to support a plan to withhold 20 percent of the world's coffee supplies from the market in order to lift prices.

But one trader maintained that after the country's most recent retention- coffee auctions, "things are running very smoothly.