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Asia Sugar-China, Malaysia, Indonesia import over 1 mln tonne

By Mayank Bhardwaj

NEW DELHI, Dec 23 (Reuters) - China, Malaysia and Indonesia have imported more than a million tonnes of sugar from top exporters Brazil and Thailand for December delivery, revving up trade deals in the region, dealers said on Tuesday.

Demand rose substantially and the brisk momentum is likely to continue next month when the new season Thai supplies would start tricking in, said a dealer by telephone from Australia.

"The fourth quarter of 2014 has seen some robust demand from most buyers in Asia, including China, a reasonably big importer now," he said.

Thailand typically starts supplying sugar to the world market from January.

Of the nearly 1 million tonnes of imports by China, Malaysia and Indonesia, Beijing alone has bought about 600,000 tonnes - 416,000 tonnes from Brazil and 180,000 tonnes from Thailand.

Thai raw sugar prices, that had returned to discounts in August 2014 after a gap of five years, switched to premiums early this month.

The widely traded high polarisation, or hipol raws, are now being offered at 35 points above New York futures for spot delivery, unchanged from the previous week.

On Monday, benchmark New York raw sugar futures settled down 0.12 cent, or 0.8 percent, at 14.86 cents a lb.

Reuters analyst Wang Tao has forecast that the New York sugar may break resistance at 15.04 cents per lb and rebound more towards the next resistance at 15.55 cents.

Premiums for J-spec, the low-quality Thai raws favoured by Japanese buyers were also quoted 35 points above New York's March contract, unchanged from last week.

Thai white sugar premiums were unchanged at $20 a tonne to London futures.

March white sugar on Monday ended down $1.80, or 0.5 percent, at $389.10 per tonne, holding above Wednesday's $383 contract low.

Separately, global traders await India's decision to give export incentives to help mills cut down large inventories.

Food Secretary Sudhir Kumar last week said the Indian government would soon decide on extending incentives for raw sugar exports in the new 2014/15 season.

India is likely to approve raw sugar export incentives soon, but a cabinet decision risks being delayed by the government's insistence that mills pay cane arrears to farmers.

Sugar prices in India, the world's biggest producer after Brazil, fell for the eighth straight week by posting an 1.6 percent drop to $463 a tonne. (Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Anand Basu)