From a technical perspective the market has performed quite well over the last three weeks, showing an ability to bounce back from weakness and forming a ‘rounding bottom’ in the process, which is often a sign of further strength to come. However, as soon as the market reaches above 6200 there seems to be strong resistance from scale-up trade selling.
The market just experienced its second technically induced short-covering rally by the specs, which ran into heavy trade selling once values moved above 62 cents. Support and resistance levels exist because the market has ‘memory’. Commercials who have missed their chance to place short hedges near 63 cents will likely become more aggressive the next time around, which should solidify resistance.
The market seems to be stuck, as the trade would like to expand its net short position in the low-to-mid 60s, but speculators are no longer in a buying mood after the failed breakout attempt. It will take a new trigger, like a trade deal between the US and China, to get the ball rolling again.
Last week’s rally looks like a flash in the pan on the chart and the market has now fallen back to the 6025 breakout level. However, the low volume over the last couple of sessions suggests that it was more a lack of buying than heavy trade selling that caused the market to recede.
Last week we felt that a breakout to the upside was more likely if spec shorts could somehow get triggered into covering. Positive vibes from the trade front combined with technical strength did the trick today and sparked massive spec buying, most of which was short-covering.
The market remains boxed into a 57-60 cents range and is still looking for a reason to break out. Despite plenty of bearish factors we see the downside as limited due to government support in the US and India, at least until the crops have moved in.
Despite the market’s wild gyrations we haven’t gone anywhere, as December has now closed the last four Thursdays within a 68-point range, between 58.94 and 59.62 cents. This is not likely to change anytime soon, as the US loan continues to provide support at around 57 cents, while a move to the upside would have to overcome massive grower selling.
The market is currently stuck in a tight range, as the downside is limited by the US government loan support at around 57/58 cents, while the upside is equally limited by an abundance of bearish factors.
As pointed out last week, we believe that the US government loan is acting as a buyer of last resort, which provides the market with a floor at around 57/58 cents. When financial markets sold off this week, cotton managed to close the day slightly higher, which seems to confirm that there is solid support in the high 50s.
We feel that the market has discounted most of the bearish news that’s out there, with perhaps the exception of lower mill use, which we expect to result from a slowing global economy.
With an escalating trade war looming, with global cotton production trending towards 127 million bales, with global demand cooling and with the technical picture rolling over, the market is currently facing a lot of headwinds and the path of least resistance continues to be down for now.
It looks like the market has made at least a temporary bottom last week, when it posted back-to-back lows of 61.66 and 61.67 cents and then bounced. However, while some light short-covering and call options buying has given the market a lift, we need to see greater buy-side liquidity in order to generate some lasting upside momentum.
Not much has changed since last week, as speculators remain in control of the market with their nearly 5 million bales net short position. The trade is basically unhedged on a net basis and is waiting, or rather hoping, for rallies to provide it with an opportunity to put on additional protection.
The market broke out of a sideways move this week and resumed its downtrend, which had its origin 13 months ago. Since reaching a top of around 96 cents in June 2018 the market has dropped 33 cents and there is still no end to this slide in sight.
Since speculators seem to be losing their power to force the market any lower and with growers not willing to chase values below 65 cents at this point in time, it could set the stage for some short-covering rallies. However, the trade is extremely under-hedged at just 2.34 million bales net and it would therefore take a tremendous amount of buying power to push the market through all the scale-up trade resistance.
By and large the market is still stuck in a 400-point trading range, as growers are unwilling to sell the market below 6500, but are waiting for rallies towards 70 cents to do so. Speculators are still holding a sizeable net short position, but the loss of downside momentum and/or one of the potential triggers mentioned above could spark some spec short-covering and new buying.
A few months ago there was probably no one in the cotton trade that expected to see a 62-handle in July. We certainly didn’t! But an escalating trade war between the US and China, an increasingly bearish cotton balance sheet and speculators selling 16.3 million bales net since last June have forced the cotton market to its knees.
Until we get a better grip on the US crop potential, the trade is probably not going to add too many shorts in the mid-60s, but will likely do so on rallies towards 70 cents. This should keep December rangebound in the near future.
The trade needs to increase its net short in the futures market by a substantial margin, but that requires speculators to go net long again. However, with the chart still in bearish territory and with Trump fighting trade wars on several fronts, speculators seem to be in no hurry to reverse their position.
We still believe that a short-covering rally in July is on the cards, but with December and March pulling in the other direction, it remains to be seen whether July can detach itself to force a bigger inversion.