Today’s flash-in-the-pan rally might continue if we get a positive surprise in tomorrow’s export sales release. However, technically were are still in a bearish trend and unless we get a move above 77 cents in May, we are going to treat this as another bear market rally.
Recent reports seemed to tell the market “don’t worry, the pipeline is flush with cotton throughout the season and there is a lot more on the way next season”. This has increased outright pressure and also forced more carry into the market.
We believe that December is currently at the center of the pricing structure and that the other months are mainly a function of their relationship to December. Given the potential for larger US and global crops next season, we see it as difficult for December to rally anytime soon.
The market is currently in a short-term uptrend within the confines of a primary downtrend. It will take a move above this downtrend line, which currently runs through around 76-77 cents, to cancel out bearish forces.
The longer US cotton remains attractively priced, the more cotton will get pushed into export channels, which will eventually tighten the balance sheet to a point at which price rationing starts to occur. We are not quite there yet, but another month or two of strong sales would probably do the trick. Once export sales reports resume, there could be an ‘awe effect’ that might lead to a positive market reaction.
While we feel that the market has solid support at 72-73 cents, we are not quite sure what to make of its upside potential. While today’s break above 74 cents bodes well for a technical rally towards the 7650-7750 resistance area, we doubt that such an advance would be sustainable yet. The US needs to get rid of more low grades over the next couple of months before higher cash prices are warranted, especially in the face of what could be a 20+ million US crop in the making next season.
The market actually makes some sense to us at the moment. At 71-72 cents the futures market gets competition from the cash market and therefore doesn’t need to go any lower. However, when it rises to 73-74 cents, like it has been doing a few times since Christmas, the board becomes the top buyer again and therefore attracts selling by the trade.
The uncertainty surrounding the global financial markets continues to weigh down cotton, as traders are afraid of a substantial slowdown in demand.
There is currently quite a bit of pessimism regarding the global economy and the world’s financial markets. This negative sentiment is not going to change unless we have a resolution to the US/China trade dispute and/or the Fed changes its hawkish stance.
December left the board at around 78 cents, which we feel is in the vicinity of ‘fair value’ for SLM-style cotton today. Since there is such an abundance of SLMs this season, we believe that the NY futures market will be tied to the cash market until the inventory of these SLMs has been greatly reduced at some point in the future.
The abundance of lower US qualities and softer financial markets are keeping a lid on cotton at the moment. However, with crops around the globe not living up to their expectations, both in size and quality, there is currently not much price pressure building. We therefore see no reason for the market to leave its current range of roughly 77-82 cents, which it has occupied since mid-September.
From a fundamental point of view we see no reason for the market to rally. There is plenty of cotton around at the moment and the fact that we have such a large amount of tenderable 41 style cotton should keep a lid on the market. It would help if China were able to come back into the market to absorb some of these lower qualities, which is why traders are keenly awaiting the outcome of the US-China trade talks at the G-20 meeting this weekend.
There will be no market report this week due to national holiday in the U.S. Back next week.
When we look at the chart, we notice that March is pushing into a narrowing triangle, as defined by the primary downtrend line dating back to early June and by the cluster of early October lows. The boundaries of this triangle are currently at around 80.50 and 76.50. A break above or below these levels would likely trigger a reaction.
The market seems to be fairly priced here. Unless the global economy deteriorates, the recent lows at 75-76 cents are likely to hold. The question is whether the market can escape the 76-80 cents sideways trend to the upside? From a fundamental point of view we currently don’t see any justification for doing that.
The market made a nice move off the lows in heavy volume today, but we have seen these flash-in-the-pan rallies before. When we take a step back and look at the chart, we notice that December has settled the last 33 sessions in a fairly tight range of just 402 points, between 76.00 and 80.02. That dates all the way back to September 18.
It’s a tough call at the moment, because the cotton market is not really in charge, but relies to a large degree on what happens in the outside markets. Speculators have been selling over 9 million bales net since early June and they may not be done yet. They are probably down to a net long of around 2.5 million bales by now, but the last time we had the threat of a recession, in early 2016, speculators went to a 4.4 million bales net short position and the market traded in the mid-50s.
We feel like we are in a bull market with the hand brakes on. There are plenty of reasons to be friendly, but there is this fear that something bad is going to happen on the demand side. It is as if the market was telling us ‘never mind a couple of million bales less production, mill use is going to drop by a lot more than that’. Whether trade wars, emerging market problems and stock market jitters will indeed cut into the demand side remains to be seen, but we’d rather be long than short going into the December notice period at current prices.
While the US faces losses and quality problems in the Southeast, which accounts for about a quarter of US output, the global economy is confronted with an emerging market crisis, trade disputes and as of yesterday jittery stock markets. While both developments have the potential to move the market, we feel that fear of lower mill use in the wake of all these economic problems carries the greater weight at this point, especially when it comes to speculators, who seem to turn their backs on industrial commodities.
Although this listless market seems to suffer ‘death by a thousand cuts’, as speculators are leaving the game and the cash market feels anaemic, we believe that things are going to get a lot more lively as we head into the final weeks of the December contract.