Two reports released Tuesday dominated the attention of cotton market traders and analysts, resulting in considerable discussion and debate. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its U.S. planted acreage report for the 2015-16 marketing year, and China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) released details of its plan to sell cotton from its huge stockpile.
USDA reported all cotton planted area for this year’s crop at 9.0 million acres, down 18 percent from the 2014 crop and the lowest since 1983. Upland cotton acreage accounted for 8.85 million acres, and pima acreage totaled 148,000 acres. In Texas, total cotton acres were reported at 5.215 million, down from 6.217 million acres planted in 2014 and down 500,000 acres from USDA’s March planting intentions report. However, USDA stated it would resurvey Texas acres in July due to extremely wet conditions in some areas of the state that may have affected field surveys. The results will be published in the department’s August supply and demand reports.
Oklahoma’s cotton acreage was reported at 250,000, up 10,000 acres from 2014, and Kansas was pegged at 29,000 acres, down 2,000 from last year. Some observers question the Kansas planted acreage in the report since excessive rainfall fell across much of the state’s cotton growing region during the planting season.
After months of rumors, speculation and hints from Chinese government officials, the NDRC reported Tuesday it will sell up to 1 million tonnes, approximately 4.6 million bales, from its strategic reserve during July and August. The cotton to be sold consists of approximately 1.5 million bales of 2011 domestic crop at a floor bidding price of 84.50 cents per pound, according to some reports. The sale volume also will include almost 2.16 million bales of 2012 crop domestic cotton with a floor bidding price of 91.00 cents per pound and approximately 918,000 bales of 2012 crop import cotton with a floor bidding price of 99.40 cents per pound, according to the reports. NDRC also said following the July-August selling period, it will begin buying cotton for its reserve in September which will be capped at 40 percent of what is sold the previous two months.
NDRC repeatedly has said it will manage sales from its reserve in an effort to avoid pressuring the market, although some analysts find that difficult to believe. Other doubters question the fiber quality of the cotton to be sold and mills’ willingness to purchase it.
This week began with cotton futures at the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) settling lower following last Friday’s sharp gains. December cotton traded heavily throughout the session and ended near the low end of a 79-point range at 67.23 cents per pound, down 28 points. Perhaps with support from the U.S. planted acreage, the market seemed to shrug off the news from China, and cotton futures settled with moderate gains Tuesday. December settled 68 points higher at 67.91 cents. Futures contracts briefly tested higher ground Wednesday at ICE before pulling back. December cotton settled at 67.54 cents, down 37 points.
In other news, USDA reported net export sales of U.S. upland cotton at 80,500 bales in the week ended June 25, up 33 percent from the previous week and 22 percent from the four-week average. The featured buyers were Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey, and South Korea. Sales for delivery in the 2015-16 marketing year totaled 51,600 bales, primarily to Bangladesh, Turkey and Mexico. Export shipments for the week totaled 230,400 bales, up 23 percent from the previous week but down 9 percent from the four-week average. Primary destinations were Vietnam, Indonesia, China, and Turkey.