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Cotton futures at critical juncture

Thinkstock sustainable cotton initiative
Is the three-month rally coming to an end?

Cotton futures, like many commodities, fell sharply lower during the month of March due to COVID-19 demand concerns. With the world coming to a halt, global clothing factories closed their doors, as consumer demand for new clothes was also put on pause. Would China curtail cotton imports for its clothing factories? That fear sent cotton futures plunging to prices not seen since 2009. 

Fortunately, cotton futures found their price low in early April and have been on a committed, steady price climb ever since. 

July futures are well supported at 59.00 while overhead resistance is near, coming in at 63.46, which is the 200-day moving average on daily charts. A climb to that level would also be a 61% retracement from the January high to the late March price low.

Holding the uptrend

What is impressive regarding cotton is that in spite of a recently bearish USDA report, cotton futures continue to hold onto this uptrend. On last week’s USDA report, new crop expected production is pegged at 19.5 million bales. Unfortunately, domestic cotton demand was reduced, old crop ending stocks are hefty, and this allowed new crop U.S. ending stocks to increase to 8 million bales, which is the highest ending stock number in 13 years.

World ending stocks are also larger coming in at a six-year high.

Leading exporter

It feels like traders are monitoring cotton export demand in the short term. U.S. cotton exports continue to be strong overall. The U.S. is actually the world’s leading cotton exporter at an astounding 16 million bales! And while China is the world’s second largest cotton producer, it actually imports close to 9 million bales. So, if U.S. exports can continue strong in the coming weeks that might keep price in an uptrend for the short term. 

From a production stand point, U.S. farmers are expected to plant nearly 14 million acres to cotton this year. Looking at U.S. crop progress ratings, cotton is now 89% planted, nearly on track of the five-year average of 91%. The crop is rated 43% good to excellent, with 40% of the crop at fair, while 17% of the crop is actually thought to be poor to very poor.

The weather ahead will be something to monitor. If no weather threat is perceived, then this recent price rally might run out of steam sooner than later.

The coming two weeks will be very important for cotton price direction. Keep an eye on exports, weather, and the planted acreage report on June 30th for the next pieces of the market fundamentals important to cotton prices.

Reach Naomi Blohm: 800-334-9779 Twitter: @naomiblohm   and [email protected]
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The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 
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