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Cotton export sales slide down

May '08
NY futures closed basically unchanged this week, as July dropped just 14 points to close at 69.99 cents, while December closed 17 points lower at 78.84 cents.

Even though there was plenty of activity in outside markets this week, with crude oil leading many commodities higher, the cotton market was indifferent and remained in a rather subdued mood. At least volume was a bit more active than last week and open interest continued to increase every day of the week, which can be seen as constructive.

However, with a certificated stock that's approaching a record 1.6 million bales and with plenty of US inventory still looking for a home, there seems to be no one in a hurry to chase prices higher, which may explain the current lethargic state of the market.

After a few very active weeks, US export sales dropped off slightly last week, as just 197'800 running bales of Upland and Pima found a home. Nevertheless, the fact that 20 different markets were on the buyers' list proves that there are not too many other options available besides US cotton and that the current price level is widely accepted.

On a negative note, shipments of 268'900 running bales were once again considerably below the pace needed to meet the current export projection of 14.2 mio bales. For the current season, total sales now amount to 14.3 mio statistical bales, of which around 10.4 mio bales have so far been shipped.

We do agree with some of the presenters at the hearing who blame index funds for this excessive increase in many commodity prices, because they have pumped open interest up to levels never seen before by 'investing' an estimated 260 billion dollars on the long side of futures markets, up from just 13 billion five years ago.

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