Cotton prices erratic amid world surplus

Cotton futures are proving a real gamble at present, with prices spiking and plummeting from one day to the next.

Last week wild price swings were the norm as future prices jumped 12.5 percent in a one-week period before falling back.

Spot December cotton futures hit a five-month high of more than 79 cents a pound last Thursday amid growing concerns about “tight nearby supplies of tenderable qualities and low stocks in deliverable position,” according to the Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal.

March futures were up nearly 6 percent for the week, closing at 75.43 cents, the publication added.

The upturn in prices is somewhat surprising given the lackluster export sales of cotton due to decreased production worldwide and enormous world stocks in countries such as China, according to Southeast Farm Press.

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India cotton-export ban may benefit US

Poor prognostication skills by Indian agriculture experts could be good news for American cotton farmers.

Earlier this month, cotton prices jumped after India announced plans to ban all cotton exports.

India is believed to have opted for a cotton-export ban because the Asian nation is concerned about a possible supply crunch. According to government officials, India’s cotton exports may have overshot government targets last year, according to Southeast Farm Press.

A few days later, officials with the country’s commerce industry said they would allow cotton cleared by customs before March 4 to be exported, easing the situation somewhat, according to an Indian agriculture blog.

It’s unclear if the price surge will be long-lasting, according to Southeast Farm Press.

“We’ll probably continue to see higher prices in the short-term,” Max Runge, Auburn University Extension economist told the publication. “But I don’t think we can count on any long-term effects.

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