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Cotton Ends Higher After Selloff

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08/11/2017 | 11:02pm CET

By Julie Wernau

The cotton market bounced higher Friday following Thursday's limit-down move based on unexpectedly high government estimates for production.

Cotton for December was up 0.2% to end at 68.25 cents a pound on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange.

A monthly estimate of world supply and demand for cotton took traders by surprise Thursday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said its first survey of U.S. crop production indicated a 20.5 million-bale crop, the largest in 11 years. The production far outweighed the 18.83 million bales expected by analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal, a slight drop from last month's 19 million-bale estimate.

The report was the first in which the USDA used objective on-the-ground estimates to determine yields for developing cotton and some traders bought futures Friday, wary of the initial estimates.

"It could be that USDA is overestimated yield on this report and that production estimates are the highest for the year," said Jack Scoville, vice president of Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Plexus Cotton said in a note that although the U.S. crop has been doing well recently, "it is a rather bold call to plug in record yields at this point in the season."

The USDA's estimate that U.S. cotton will produce yields at 892 pounds per acre with 8.3% abandonment would match record yields from 2012 when 24% of the crop was abandonment, the firm said.

Still, Rabobank told clients that it expects cotton prices to remain under pressure through the second half of 2017 as U.S. and global estimates point to higher global stockpiles of cotton. In China, cotton supplies are expected to expand by over 9 million bales in 2017/2018, which would help feed mills that would otherwise be buying the U.S. cotton traded in New York, pressuring prices, the firm said.

In other markets, raw sugar for October lost 0.3% to end at 13.20 cents a pound, cocoa for December was up 0.6% to settle at $1,977 a ton, arabica coffee for September rose 1.3% to close at $1.403 a pound and frozen concentrated orange juice for September was up 0.4% to end at $1.361 a pound.

Write to Julie Wernau at [email protected]

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