Cotton futures continued to defy a double whammy of downbeat data, on US sowings and exports, as wetness in major growing areas raised doubts that farmers will achieve the plantings they have hoped for.
Cotton futures for May, which gained 1.3% in the last session, nudged a further 0.1% higher to 57.67 cents a pound in early deals in New York on Friday, and remaining above its newly-regained 40-day moving average.
The gain came amid continued doubts that US farmers will manage the near-1.0m-acre increase to 9.56m acres in sowings that the US Department of Agriculture forecast on Thursday, following a survey of farmers.
The sowings figure was above the figure of about 9.4m acres that investors had expected, and indeed which the USDA had outlined in initial estimates in February.
The price gains also came despite separate data on Thursday, deemed “disappointing” by Louis Rose at the Rose Report, showing that US export sales of upland cotton last week at 86,400 running bales – nearly half the average level of the previous four weeks,.
Actual exports were down a more modest 8% from the four-week average at 192,300 running bales.
‘Extremely wet conditions’
The resilience in futures was attributed to concerns that the extent of wetness in much of the US cotton belt will prevent sowings reaching the USDA forecast.
Plantings have yet to begin in earnest in the region, although Texas farmers had seeded 2% of their cotton as of Sunday, behind an average of 5% by then, official data earlier this week showed.
However, “weather continues to hamper field preparation and early planting operations in… the Delta and the south eastern states,” Mr Rose said.
Rabobank stuck by an estimate of sowings recovering only to 8.8m acres, saying that “extremely wet conditions over the last month will compromise the scope of the USDA’s expected area growth”.
At Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Tobin Gorey also downplayed the bearish signal to be drawn from the cotton export sales data, saying that the “poor” figure could be down to disruption to trade from the Easter holiday.
“The shorter week probably played some part in those sales being lacklustre,” he said.
He also flagged the potential reluctance of hedge funds to sell more cotton when their net short position as of last week, at 9,605 contracts, was already the highest since late 2012 – bar the figure of 11,192 lots reached the week before.
“Until that short position is cleared, we can see the potential for higher prices in the short term,” he said, while remaining cautious over longer-term price prospects.
(Source – http://www.agrimoney.com/news/cotton-futures-hold-gains-amid-doubts-over-us-sowings-hopes–9467.html)