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ICE Cotton settles almost 150 pts lower this week
Feb '14
ICE Cotton settled almost 150 pts lower for the week at 85.83 c/lbs basis the H4, which wasn’t bad considering Monday started with a 300 pts sell-off. What looked like a near-term top above 88 cents now has to be viewed a bit more wearily following yet another stunning export sales figure (+480k for 13/14 upland). A second week of strong export figures is a little harder to blame on lagged reporting, with rumors suggesting a non-cotton entity may have been behind some of the buying. 
It is also notable that a 60k bale cert happened with the click of a button on Wednesday, followed by a further 12k on Thursday, did not affect the market. Nonetheless, while sales continue unchecked, exports will have to continue gaining pace – otherwise current crop sales will be rolled into 14/15 shipments, alleviating some downward pressure on the USDA’s 3.0m bale carry-out figure. 
Elsewhere in the world, the Australian crop is suffering and Indian arrivals have tailed off – and China remains, as always, a question mark, particularly going into the 14/15 season. This is being reflected in the N/Z spread, now trading at close to a 10 cent inverse. Around the world, the emerging market currency sell-off intensified this week, stemmed only partly by draconian hikes in interest rates in Turkey, and to a lesser extent recently in Brazil, India and South Africa. The moves will be painful medicine, as the higher rates needed to tame inflation and depreciating currencies will do no favors for economic growth, which is under pressure both at home and from a slowdown in China. 
A full-blown credit crisis was certainly avoided in China this week as a 3rd party investor stepped in to bail out a troubled trust product, but one has to wonder if this was the Bear Sterns of a future, more damaging unraveling in China. US economic growth, meanwhile, picked up to 3.2% in Q4 2013, allowing the Fed to continue tapering at its meeting this week – this should continue unless the emerging market scare continues to worsen.


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