Chinese cotton imports slump

Chinese cotton imports slump

Chinese cotton imports in June were down 55 % year on year, at 72750 tonnes. Imports over the first half of 2016 were down 54 %, at 431250 tonnes

“A sharp fall in domestic prices and lower import quotas for tax-free imports are responsible for the slump in imports,” said Commerzbank.

State auction flood market

“Instead, cotton manufacturers in China are currently drawing on the high domestic stocks that the state has been auctioning off since May.”

The Chinese government is planning to auction off 2.0m tonnes of cotton from its massive state-owned inventories, accumulated during a defunct price support programme. Some 1.4m tonnes of cotton have been auctioned off so far.

In the latest auction, held on July 21, the government sold all 28800 tonnes of cotton made available, at an average price of CNY 15116 yuan a tonne, about USD 2265. Chinese cotton futures finished down 0.3 %, at CNY 15420 a tonne.

Overly ambitious

Slower Chinese buying threatens the rally in New York cotton markets. “Against this backdrop, the US Department of Agriculture’s latest assumptions about US cotton exports appear overly ambitious,” Commerzbank warned.

The USDA’s latest forecast for the 2016-17 crop year saw booming US exports, at a four-year-high of 2.5 million tonnes.

The news triggered a rally in New York cotton futures, which hit a two-year-high of 75 cents a pound on July 15.

Cotton prices have fallen back a little, with December cotton futures in New York trading at 72.65 cents a pound overnight.

Momentum stalls

“The market’s spectacular rise from the ashes has been driven almost entirely by investor buying,” said Tobin Gorey, at CBA. “Stalling momentum could quickly turn them into sellers,” Gorey warned. “The market now needs some fresh news to keep long investors placated,” he added.

Markets guess at Chinese crop damage

Still, Gorey did suggest that “perhaps the impact of heavy flooding in China’s Yangtze River Basin will do the trick”.  “Weather forecasters estimate that more than a quarter of China’s cotton crop has been impacted, to varying degrees, by the excessive rainfall seen in early July,” he said. “Official estimates of crop losses are probably still a few weeks away but that will not prevent the market from taking a guess at the damage.”

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