Uncertainty about the crop outcome in India offered support. Turkey’s cotton imports projected to remain strong. Slowdown generally expected in U.S. weekly export sales report.
Cotton futures finished slightly higher in an ongoing consolidation and the lightest volume in a while Wednesday as traders awaited the U.S. weekly export sales report.
March gained 21 points to settle at 72.72 cents, around the lower third of its 83-point range from down seven points at 72.44 cents to up 76 points at 73.27 cents. A question now is whether March will fill the 245-point overhead gap left by expiration of the December contract.
May closed up 12 points to 73.39 cents, trading within a 66-point range from 73.22 to 73.88 cents. The other contracts settled down two to up 14 points.
Volume declined to an estimated 19,020 lots from 29,083 lots the prior session when spreads accounted for 12,928 lots or 42%, EFP 205 lots and EFS 54 lots. Options volume increased to 8,933 lots (3,443 calls and 5,490 puts) from 8,778 lots (6,886 calls and 1,892 puts).
Uncertainty about the crop outcome in India, the world’s largest cotton producer, has been mentioned as a supportive market factor following damage from pink bollworm infestations and late-season rainfall.
Cotton Outlook in a monthly review reduced its estimate of the Indian crop to 38 million local-weight bales of 170 kilos (29.69 million 480-pound bales), which it said still would be the largest since 2014-15.
Some analysts have talked of a much larger reduction from USDA’s projection last month of 30 million bales, up from 27 million bales in 2016-17 and 25.9 million in 2015-16.
Cotton Outlook also reduced its estimate of Pakistan’s crop to 1.85 million metric tons or 8.5 million statistical bales, compared with USDA’s November forecast of 9.15 million bales.
Elsewhere on the international scene, Turkey’s cotton imports are expected to remain strong this season despite higher domestic production, according to a U.S. agricultural attach report.
The Foreign Agricultural Service post estimated 2017-18 imports at 800,000 metric tons or 3.67 million 480-pound bales, up from USDA’s November forecast of 3.4 million bales.
Around half of Turkey’s cotton imports come from the United States, even with a 3% antidumping duty. Turkey thus far this season ranks as the fifth largest export buyer of U.S. cotton on purchases of 864,000 bales.
The post-projected production at 4 million bales, up 23% from last season, with plantings estimated up 18% to 470,000 hectares (1.16 million acres). The USDA estimated the crop at 3.8 million bales.
Looking to the USDA export sales report on Thursday, traders generally expect a slowdown to be reported for the week ended Nov. 30. Prices during the reporting week traded from 71.07 to 73.46 cents, basis March, and closed the period at 72.81 cents.
Net upland sales the prior week were 276,500 running bales and have averaged 336,400 RB a week the last four weeks. Upland shipments rose to a still-slow 112,200 RB with the four-week average at 104,100 RB.
Futures open interest increased 473 lots to 249,201 on Tuesday, with March’s down 523 lots to 169,731 and May’s up 668 lots to 42,772. Certified stocks remained at 47,628 bales.