Cotton Prices Fall Despite Strong Sales Abroad

By Julie Wernau Features Dow Jones Newswires

Cotton prices dropped lower Thursday despite quickening shipments of U.S. cotton overseas.

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Cotton for December delivery fell 1.4% to end at 68.25 cents a pound on the ICE futures U.S. exchange. The weekly government report on sales and shipments of fiber overseas showed net sales of cotton at 278,000 bales, with shipment at 181,000 bales.

Rose Commodity group said sales were nearly three times the weekly pace requires to hit the U.S. Department of Agriculture's export target but shipments fell short.

"We think today's report is supportive for December futures," the firm said. "Still, with U.S. harvest pressure imminent, traders will likely want to see more of the same before sponsoring a rally."

A collapse last week in futures prices helped push sales, traders said. Traders were aggressive sellers last week after Hurricane Irma spared major cotton growing areas in the southeast United States, Plexus Cotton noted.

Traders have been speculating about the size of this year's cotton crop after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released an estimate this month that didn't take into account damaged cotton bales in Texas due to flooding from Hurricane Harvey. Plexus estimated that the USDA's 21.76 million bale production estimate could be overstated by 800,000 bales.

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"Prices are likely to come under further pressure as the window for weather related issues is closing," the firm said, with prices likely to hit the low 60s once crops are harvested.

In other markets, raw sugar for March was up 0.2% to end at 14.73 cents a pound, cocoa for December rose 1.2% to end at $2,021 a ton, arabica coffee for December was off 1.1% to settle at $1.35 a pound and frozen concentrated orange juice for November lost 1.6% to end at $1.5225 a pound.

Write to Julie Wernau at julie.wernau@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 21, 2017 16:31 ET (20:31 GMT)