* Indian white sugar prices ease to $470/T from $490/T
* Thai hipol premiums unchanged at 70 to 80 points
* White-over-raws premiums slip to $85-$88 from $121 in Aug
By Lewa Pardomuan
SINGAPORE, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Prices of Indian white sugar dropped in thin trade this week, dealers said on Tuesday, while Thai raws premiums were stuck in a range as trading houses digested a sharp rebound in New York futures.
ICE raw sugar hit a 6-1/2-month high on Monday after recent wet weather hampered crushing in top grower Brazil. The March contract has rebounded more than 16 percent since hitting a three-year low of 15.93 cents a lb in mid-July.
But the physical market in Asia has shifted its attention to India and Thailand, which are likely to compete for buyers. Main consumer India may export as much as 3 million tonnes of sugar in the 2013/14 season to reduce excess stocks.
“The current price is at around $470 a tonne for sugar from the old crop. New crop is yet to come out,” said a dealer in Dubai, who trades Indian sugar.
Two weeks ago, white sugar from the main producing state of Maharashtra was offered at $490 a tonne free on board. London white sugar has rebounded from a 3-year low of around $458 a tonne in mid-July, but prices are still below recent highs of around $500.
“Raws are not offered at the moment, but if white sugar prices drop further, it will be more attractive to millers to sell and export raw sugar. We need to watch the futures market and the currency movements,” said the dealer.
White-over-raws premiums were quoted by dealers at between $85 and $88 a tonne, down from $121 in August, which suggested demand for refined sugar had weakened. The premiums measure refining profitability.
Thai high polarisation, or hipol, raw sugar was offered at premiums of 70 to 80 points to New York’s futures for January-March delivery, unchanged from last week, even though the sweetener was sold at higher premiums at a government tender last week.
This indicates buyers are waiting for lower differentials as fresh supply from Thailand is expected to enter the physical market in the next few weeks, with the crushing season due to start on Nov. 15.
Thai sugar production is forecast to reach 11 million tonnes in 2013/14.
Thai raw sugar for the Japanese market, or J-spec, for next year’s delivery was offered at premiums of 100 points to New York futures, unchanged from last week.
Premiums for Thai white sugar for this year’s delivery stood at $24 to $25 a tonne, within sight of last week’s levels of $25 and $32, with no report of deals.
Thai raw sugar premiums could slip by a couple of points next week if New York futures extend gains. Premiums and futures usually move in opposite directions. (Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)