By Duane Howell DTN Cotton Correspondent
April 12, 2018
Export commitments stand 16% above year-ago cumulative sales and 7% above USDA’s upwardly revised 2017-18 forecast. Robust shipments surged to the second largest of the marketing year. Hot, dry, windy conditions noted in the Texas Plains. Cotton futures ended mixed Thursday, down 41 to up 27 points, as traders digested U.S. weekly export data showing lower-than-expected sales and robust shipments amid hot, dry conditions in the droughty Texas Plains.

Spot May eased 14 points to 83.69 cents, settling in the upper half of its narrow 80-point range from up 14 points at 83.97 cents to down 66 points at 81.17 cents. It touched the low on release of the USDA export sales report. May options will expire Friday. July lost the most, closing at 83 cents, staying within the 86-point range established in the early going from 83.57 cents to 82.71 cents. December gained 20 points to close at 78.83 cents, near its contract high of 78.94 cents and near the high of the session’s 70-point range from 78.21 cents to 78.91 cents.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for much of the Texas High Plains cotton area as strong winds, low humidity and dry conditions posed a critical fire weather threat. A 97-degree high forecast at Lubbock would eclipse the date record of 96 degrees set in 1972.

Volume dipped to an estimated 54,800 lots from 59,802 lots the previous session when spreads accounted for 42,181 lots or 71%, EFS 500 lots and EFP 209 lots. Options volume rose to 8,488 lots (4,602 calls and 3,886 puts) from 7,781 lots (5,575 calls and 2,206 puts).

Net all-cotton export sales for shipment this season of 180,300 running bales during the week ended April 5, down from 378,400 RB the previous week, brought 2017-18 commitments to 15.616 million RB. Commitments topped year-ago cumulative sales by 2.161 million RB or 16% and were 1.066 million RB or 7% above the new USDA export estimate. A year ago, commitments were 93% of final shipments. The lead of commitments over year-ago cumulative sales narrowed 137,000 RB.

Net upland sales of 179,400 RB, an 11-week low and second lowest for a full week since the marketing year began Aug. 1, reflected gross sales of 302,600 RB and unexpected cancellations of 123,300 RB. Pakistan cancelled 115,600 RB. Volatile price action erupted during the reporting week on U.S.-China trade war fears. Spot May traded from 82.81 to 78.62 cents, lowest since Feb. 21, and rebounded as fears eased to finish with a 111-point gain for the period at 82.57 cents.

Outstanding sales of 6.583 million RB, up from 4.123 million RB a year ago, were 57% of 2017-18 export commitments.  Unshipped sales at the end of the marketing year will be rolled forward, swelling 2018-19 commitments. Net all-cotton sales for shipment next season of 28,900 RB brought 2018-19 commitments to 2.896 million RB, narrowing the lead over forward bookings a year ago by 187,000 RB to 839,000.

New-crop commitments stand at 19% of the early USDA estimate for 2018-19, compared with year-ago forward sales at 14% of USDA’s latest 2017-18 projection. Robust all-cotton shipments of 512,100 RB, second largest of the marketing year behind a 12-year high of 551,300 RB during the week ended March 1, boosted exports for the season to 8.894 million RB.

Shipments narrowed the lag behind year-ago exports by 54,000 RB to 293,000 RB and reached 61% of the forecast, compared with 63% of final shipments at the corresponding point last season. To achieve the USDA forecast, shipments need to average roughly 338,700 RB per week.

Certified stocks declined 4,739 bales to 73,084 bales on Wednesday. There were 1,333 newly certified bales and 6,072 bales of decertified. Futures open interest fell 2,237 lots to 274,269, with May’s down 12,087 bales to 48,125, July’s up 7,883 lots to 115,358 and December’s up 1,872 lots to 87,785. (Source: