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Market Holds On in Face of Neutral Report

Market Holds On in Face of Neutral Report

Cotton prices were on the defensive all week, as the managed fund speculative long position reached a record high level the prior week – a technical indicator that has always been associated with price failure.

We got you that word last Sunday via Twitter and Facebook, so most you received the warning. From its prior weekly high of 78.50 cents, the market lost a full 800 points before holding on at week’s end. The market found support on the weekly close at the 70.50 cent level, a key point if prices are to hold above the 68 cent area.

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The bullish fundamentals that helped lead prices higher remain in place, although somewhat muted. Likewise, the same few bearish factors remain in the news. Yet, the 70-78 cent trading range remains the major trading channel and continues to bracket trading.

The August USDA supply demand report and U.S. crop production report were released on August 12 and were taken to be neutral-to-supportive. While USDA did increase its estimate of 2016 U.S. production and carryover, it also reported higher world consumption and lower world carryover.

USDA increased its estimate of the U.S. crop by 100,000 bales – up to 15.9 million – and moved that 100,000 bale increase to carryover as it left exports – 11.5 million, and domestic use 3.6 million – unchanged. Thus, 2016-17 marketing year carryover is now estimated at 4.7 million bales. (After the report, USDA did have to adjust its 2015-16 exports 100,000 bales larger. Thus, the effective carryover is back to 4.6 million bales.) 

The slightly larger U.S. crop was based on the excellent crop progress made throughout the Mid-South. All the Delta state crops average yields were estimated to average above 1,000 pounds per acre. The August survey was the first objective field survey of the year. Most feel the estimate is slightly high, pointing to the fact that the estimate was based on conditions as of August 1, not current conditions.

Yet, in total, the NASS-USDA crop production report should be viewed as excellent. Crop prospects in Texas remain fair. But, as noted, the crop – while experiencing generally excellent moisture finally – is expected to continue under stress.

In the monthly world supply demand report, USDA reduced its estimate of 2016 world production by 1.0 million bales, down to 101 million. Production estimates were reduced for China, India, Mexico and Argentina. USDA also chose to finally begin adjusting its historical data base for stocks, but only slightly. They did, however, reduce world beginning stocks 1.0 million bales.

World consumption was estimated marginally lower, but still at 111 million bales.

World ending stocks were lowered 1.7 million bales to 89.6 million – actually a significant reduction, in that they refused to make meaningful adjustments to the Indian stock situation. Stocks outside of the United States and China are projected at 36% of total use, similar to the estimated 2015/16 ratio. Yet more importantly, stocks of machine picked high grades continue to decline based on forecast for 2016-17.

The trading range should support another opportunity for growers to price at 75 cents. Too, weather events could take prices higher. However, higher prices are now dependent on weather. There has been significant sifting out of cotton to the acid-based chemical fiber due to the recent rapid price surge.

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