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DTN Cotton Close: Settles on Gains Well Off Early Highs

Ernst Undesser
By Duane Howell DTN Cotton Correspondent January 18, 2018

DTN Cotton Close: Settles on Gains Well Off Early Highs

Traders digested news of the economy in China, the world’s largest cotton consumer, gaining steam, and looked ahead to the U.S. weekly export sales-shipments report.

Cotton futures finished higher but well off the highs Thursday as traders digested news of the economy gaining steam in the world’s largest cotton user and looked ahead to the U.S. weekly export sales report.

March closed up 49 points to 82.63 cents, trading from up 180 points at 83.94 to down 32 points at 81.82 cents. It rallied from an overnight dip to the high by early morning, slipped to a new session low and bounced to settle around the lower third of the 212-point range.

May settled up 60 points to 82.99 cents, trading within a 215-point range from 82.14 to 84.29 cents, and July gained 76 points to close at 83.36 cents. The other contracts closed up 33 points to down 15 points, with December up 19 points at 75.28 cents after hitting a new contract high at 75.80 cents.

Volume jumped to an estimated 47,900 lots from 23,958 lots the previous session when spreads accounted for 10,543 lots or 44%, EFS 905 lots and EFP 136 lots. Options volume rose to 14,244 lots (8,062 calls and 6,182 puts) from 8,538 lots (4,935 calls and 3,603 puts).

Traders digested overnight news that China’s economy gained steam in 2017, expanding at a 6.9% pace in its first annual increase in seven years amid buoyant consumer spending and robust exports.

China is the world’s largest cotton consumer, with 2017-18 mill use projected by USDA last week at 40 million bales, up a million bales from the prior-month forecast and up 6.7% from 37.5 million bales last season.

Cotton consumption in China is expected to account for 33.1% of the world total. China is the leading export buyer of U.S. cotton thus far this season, having purchased 2.019 million running bales.

The official growth figures are considered welcome news for Beijing policymakers who are looking to cut debt and pollution from older industries without stunting growth in the world’s second largest economy. Synthetic fiber production is a major pollution contributor.

The acceleration in growth defied concerns that intensifying curbs on industry and credit would hurt expansion, reports indicated. Beijing had set a target of 6.5% growth after the economy expanded at a 6.7% annual pace in 2016, its slowest in 26 years.

China, the largest supplier of textile and apparel products to the world, is expected to benefit from the expanding global economy. Its mill use of cotton this season is forecast as the largest since 2010-11 when it totaled 46 million bales.

Meanwhile, the delayed export sales-shipments report, scheduled for release by USDA at 7:30 a.m. CST on Friday, will be for the week ended Jan. 11, a period when March futures traded from 77.81 to a limit gain at 82.65 cents.

Upland sales of 274,500 running bales the prior week were up 16% from the prior four-week average, while upland shipments hit a marketing year high of 281,600 RB and were up 41% from the four-week average. For the four reporting weeks through Jan. 4, upland sales averaged 239,700 RB and upland shipments averaged 228,800 RB.

Futures open interest grew 1,100 lots to 304,637 on Wednesday, with March’s up 225 lots to 168,602 and May’s up 1,027 lots to 67,960. Certified stocks declined 43 bales to 48,067.

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Ernst Undesser
By Duane Howell DTN Cotton Correspondent January 18, 2018