DTN Cotton Close: Inches Ahead Within Prior-Day Range

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    U.S. 2016-17 export commitments widened the lead over year-ago bookings to 63% and reached 70% of the USDA projection. China’s calendar 2016 imports through November fell 41% from a year ago.

    Cotton futures finished fractionally ahead Thursday, trading both sides of unchanged within the previous-session range on light volume.

    March eked up seven points to settle at 70.20 cents, just below the midpoint of its 101-point range from up 64 points at 70.77 cents to down 37 points at 69.76 cents.

    The May contract inched up 12 points to close at 70.60 cents, while December 2017 also edged up 12 points to settle at 69.25 points.

    Volume slowed to an estimated 14,914 lots from 30,903 lots the previous session when spreads accounted for 8,991 lots or 29% and EFP 194 lots. Options volume totaled 2,197 calls and 2,102 puts.

    Net U.S. all-cotton export sales for shipment this season of 282,800 running bales during the week ended Dec. 15, down from 318,100 RB the previous week, brought 2016-17 commitments to 8.263 million RB.

    The lead over commitments a year ago widened 153,000 RB to 3.203 million RB or 63%. Commitments, including outstanding sales of 4.802 million RB plus shipments, reached 70% of USDA’s export forecast. A year ago, commitments stood at 57% of final 2015-16 shipments.

    All-cotton shipments of 230,300 RB, down from 235,100 RB the week before, raised the total for the season to 3.461 million RB and widened the lead over exports a year ago by 93,000 RB to 1.361 million RB or 65%.

    Shipments were 29% of the USDA projection, compared with 24% of final 2015-16 exports at the corresponding point last season.

    To achieve the USDA forecast, shipments now need to average roughly 254,000 RB a week, while weekly sales averaging approximately 108,500 RB would match the export projection.

    No sales were reported for shipment in 2017-18, widening the lag behind forward bookings a year ago by 36,900 RB to 171,500 RB.

    Meanwhile, China’s cotton imports in November fell 35% from a year ago to 54,940 metric tons or 252,335 statistical 480-pound bales, customs data showed. This brought imports for the calendar year to 753,065 tons or 3.359 million bales, down 41% from January-November last year.

    The USDA estimate of China’s imports for the 2016-17 marketing year ending July 31 is 4.5 million bales, up 2% from 4.41 million bales in 2015-16 but down 45.6% from 8.28 million bales in 2014-15.

    China was the top weekly buyer of U.S. cotton in Thursday’s export report, purchasing 86,000 RB of upland and 4,200 RB of Pima. For the crop year, China has bought 1.229 million RB, behind only Vietnam’s 1.348 million RB.

    Futures open interest expanded 2,182 lots Wednesday to 246,071, with March’s up 572 lots to 167,035 and May’s down 218 lots to 41,369. Cert stocks declined 8,576 lots to 41,697.

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