* Prompt butter ratios weaker; rise in demand seen in one month
* Holiday season slowdown still evident; powder prices on the rise
By Michael Taylor
JAKARTA, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Cocoa butter ratios eased this week as major buyers held out for lower prices following the pre-holiday slowdown, dealers said on Friday, with demand expected to pick up in the coming weeks due to Valentine’s Day and Easter demand.
When ground, cocoa beans yield roughly equal parts butter, which gives chocolate its melt-in-the-mouth texture, and powder - used in cakes, biscuits and drinks. Butter ratios and powder prices often move in opposite directions.
Butter ratios stood at 2.30 to 2.40 times London futures <0#LCC:>, down from about 2.60 in December.
“As expected, it came off a bit towards the third week of December as everybody was busy with holidays,” said an Indonesian cocoa trader.
“With grinders it is pretty well sold for the first quarter,” he said on stock levels. “Demand will be ok because there is Valentine’s Day around the corner... as well as for Easter production.”
Cocoa powder prices were quoted at $1,850 to $2,200, up from $1,800 a tonne in late December.
“We have seen a very quiet one and a half months for butter with everyone holding back because of high butter ratios and terminal prices,” said a Singapore-based cocoa trader. “We are seeing some customers covering... but not enough.”
Butter ratios are likely to trade at current levels before picking up in about one month, he added.
While butter ratios have come down due to weaker demand and pressure from a rebound in London futures, values are still within sight of a seven-year high of 2.80 seen in mid-October.
Butter ratios have rallied to multi-year highs in Asia, Europe and the United States as chocolate makers replenished stocks and after grinders cut capacity due to the year’s sluggish market and high powder inventory.
Liffe May futures slipped 8 pounds, or 0.5 percent, to 1,708 pounds a tonne on Thursday.
Butter ratios and futures usually move in opposite directions. (Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)