COCOA FUTURES DECLINE AS IVORY COAST CALMS

COCOA FUTURES DECLINE AS IVORY COAST CALMS

Cocoa prices were moderately lower as tensions eased in the Ivory Coast, the world's largest cocoa producer, analysts said Monday.

Profit-taking set the stage for further losses by the closing bell, the analysts noted. "With the lack of new developments in the politically volatile Ivory Coast situation, the market eased," said Arthur Stevenson, a tropical commodities analyst for Prudential-Bache Securities Inc. "We are in a holding pattern now as civil strife in the Ivory Coast has not worsened," he said.Cocoa ended at $1,253 per metric ton, down $28 in the May position. (A metric ton equals 1.1 tons).

"People bought on Friday in anticipation of risk and those people are now selling," another analyst said.

Meanwhile, world sugar prices firmed Monday after unconfirmed reports circulated the sugar futures trading floor that the Soviet Union bought sugar. Prices were up .

Analysts also noted that weekend rains in dry cocoa growing regions of West Africa and Brazil put addition pressure on Monday's cocoa prices. Producers were fearful that persistent dry weather would hamper the quality and future supply of cocoa.

The market rose sharply last week because of continued unrest in the Ivory Coast and generally poor weather conditions in that country and other parts of West Africa.

Knight-Ridder Financial News reported that Abidjan, the Ivorian capital, was said to be quiet after a student was killed during an anti-government demontration last week.

News of the sinking of a Danish cargo ship, the EAL Diamond, 350 miles off Gibraltar Saturday, prompted some early buying of futures. The ship was reported to be carrying up to 8,000 metric tons of Ivorian and Cameroon cocoa to Europe.

However, analysts noted that market fundamentals still point to a continuation of imbalances in supply and demand. Most analysts agree that surpluses of the past five to six years continue to weigh on prices while demand is not keeping pace with growing worldwide supplies of the commodity.