Cotton Futures Slip After USDA Reports Drop in Export Sales

Cotton futures fell Thursday, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a sharp drop in last week's export sales.

Cotton for July delivery lost 1.5% to 78.19 cents a pound on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange.

Net export sales of upland cotton--the most commonly grown variety in the U.S.--totaled 115,500 running bales in the week ended April 20, down 49% from the prior week, the USDA said. South Korea, Japan and China reported lower imports.

"It is the weakest sales since the third week of September," said Herman S. Kohlmeyer, Jr., managing director at Michael J. Nugent & Company Inc.

With just three months left for the current marketing years, export sales tends to wind down as most mills are done with cotton buying, he said.

Year to date, total committed export sales have already exceeded the USDA's target for this marketing year.

This year, cotton futures have been rising on robust demand for U.S. fiber overseas, fueled by fears of a trade war that have resulted in aggressive buying from major cotton importers in Asia. But in recent weeks, the remarkable export sales momentum has slowed down.

Cotton exports to China, one of the largest importers, already showed signs of slowing in March. China's cotton imports last month fell 12.4% from a month earlier to 121,000 metric tons, although first-quarter imports increased by 78.4% over a year ago.

Some analysts said cotton prices have reached to levels high enough to entice acreage expansion across the world.

In other markets, raw sugar for May fell 0.9% to 15.25 cents a pound; cocoa for July dropped 0.5% to $1,866 a ton; arabica coffee for July delivery lost 1.4% to $1.2885 a pound; and frozen concentrated orange juice futures for July fell 0.3% to $1.5920 a pound.

Write to Carolyn Cui at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 27, 2017 12:32 ET (16:32 GMT)