Traders looked to weekly export sales-shipments report. Some industry people expect exports to exceed the USDA forecast.
Cotton futures finished moderately lower in old-crop deliveries and marginally ahead in new-crop contracts from December forward Wednesday.
Most-active May lost ground a second day, settling down 67 points at 77.28 cents, below the prior-session low. It closed in the lower quarter of its 109-point range from up 30 points at 78.25 cents to down 79 points at 77.16 cents.
May opened on the session high overnight, touched the low around 7:10 a.m. CST and got no higher than 77.63 cents after that.
March shed 61 points to close at 75.71 cents and July finished down 73 points at 78 cents. December edged up eight points to settle at 74.57 cents. First notice day for March now is three trading sessions away. The market will be closed Monday for Presidents Day.
In outside markets, U.S. dollar index futures traded little changed around the time of the cotton close, swinging between gains and losses despite better-than-expected economic data and an outlook for higher U.S. interest rates.
Volume slipped to an estimated 40,826 lots from 53,578 lots the previous session when spreads accounted for 38,486 lots or 72%, EFS 777 lots and EFP 298 lots. Options volume totaled 5,721 lots — 3,260 calls and 2,461 puts.
Traders looked ahead to USDA’s weekly U.S. export sales-shipments report set for release at 7:30 a.m. CST on Thursday. Prices ranged from 76.05 to 77.76 cents during the reporting week ended Feb. 9, basis May futures, and ended with a weekly loss of 92 points at 76.65 cents.
Net upland sales were 208,100 running bales the prior week and have averaged 335,100 RB the last four weeks. Upland shipments surged to a marketing year high of 452,100 RB that week to lift the four-week average to 314,200 RB, ahead of the pace needed to reach USDA’s latest forecast.
Shipments the last four weeks have totaled 1.257 million RB, up from 941,100 RB the previous four weeks.
Some industry people think the USDA estimate of 12.7 million statistical bales, which has been raised 700,000 bales in just the last two months, still may be low. The National Cotton Council projected exports of 12.8 million bales in its annual economic outlook report.
Jarral Neeper, president of Calcot Ltd., based in Bakersfield, Calif., said on the monthly Ag Market Network conference call last week that he could see exports as high as 13.3 million bales as “doable.”
Some of those expecting higher exports also have expressed thoughts that 2016-17 production may at least slightly exceed USDA’s January estimate of 16.96 million bales, up 32% from last season.
The USDA isn’t expected to revise the output estimate until after the end-of-the season ginning data in March and will tweak the numbers in its final report in May on acres, yields and production.
Futures open interest declined 1,318 lots Tuesday to 282,058, with March’s down 12,852 lots to 41,840 and May’s up 9,251 lots to 147,316. Cert stocks grew 7,497 bales to 292,431, a new high since July 2014. Awaiting review were 8,092 bales at Galveston.