Major exporters expected to bear the brunt of the burden of increased global stocks and will be looking to move supplies as harvests come in.
Cotton futures finished a narrow-range session mixed Wednesday, with spot December completing an inside day with a fractional loss.
December stayed within the range established by early morning and settled down 14 points to 67.63 cents, near the low of its 63-point range up 40 points at 68.17 to down 23 points at 67.54 cents. It traded from 43 points below to nine points above the prior-day price range.
March eased 15 points to close at 67.33 cents, trading within a 59-point range from 67.83 to 67.24 cents. The other contract months settled down four to up nine points.
Volume slowed to an estimated 18,698 lots from 23,026 lots the prior session when spreads accounted for 9,637 lots or 42%, EFS 1,046 lots and EFP 33 lots. Options volume rose to 6,764 lots (3,154 calls and 3,610 puts) from 3,814 lots (1,691 calls and 2,123 puts).
Some traders moved to the sidelines ahead of the U.S. export sales-shipments report set for release at 7:30 a.m. CDT on Thursday for the week ended Oct. 12. Prices for the reporting week ended down 43 points, basis December, and ranged between 67.84 and 68.95 cents on a closing basis.
Net upland sales the last four weeks have averaged 182,400 running bales, above the pace needed to match USDA’s reduced export forecast, and shipments have lagged at an average of 135,100 RB.
The USDA cut its estimate of total 2017-18 U.S. cotton offtake to 17.85 million 480-pound statistical bales this month, 400,000 bales below the September projection and down about 300,000 bales from 2016-17. Exports accounted for the decrease this month and are projected at 14.5 million bales.
The lower export forecast was attributed to a reduction in projected U.S. production and expectations of competition from other major cotton exporters, who will bear the burden of increased global stocks. Central Asia, Africa, the Southern Hemisphere and the United States all are forecast to have stock levels well above recent averages.
Still, U.S. exports are projected at the third highest ever, behind only 17.67 million bales in 2005-06 and last season’s 14.92 million bales. The U.S. share of global trade is forecast at 38%, down from 40% last season but above the previous five years.
“Every one of the world’s major cotton growing countries increased cotton acreage in 2017-18, and every one of the world’s major exporting countries are expected to have an increase in ending stocks this crop year,” Cotton Inc. noted in a monthly review.
“Exporters will increasingly be looking to move supplies as harvests come in, and the corresponding competition for sales in import markets could be expected to weigh on prices.”
It’s possible that China could absorb some of the additional supply by increasing imports. However, even after factoring in another round of auctions next spring and summer, USDA still expects China to have enough stocks at the end of 2017-18 to result in a stocks-to-use ratio over 100%.
With so much supply at home, uncertainty surrounds the question of whether China will increase imports, Cotton Inc. says.
Futures open interest gained 619 lots to 229,812 on Tuesday, with December’s down 232 lots to 121,276 and March’s up 262 lots to 73,653. Certified stocks declined 1,240 bales to 4,465.