There has been a surge in cotton prices in recent weeks. Cotton prices, as judged by the CotLook A Index (a global benchmark indicator for cotton), have jumped by 18% since mid-November to 94.1 USc/lb (or 207.5 USc/kg). This is the highest level in almost four years (May 2014). The jump has caught observers and analysts by surprise because there are still large stocks held around the world, mainly in China. At the end of the 2016/17 season, stocks were equal to 76% of the annual consumption of cotton (this is down from a peak of 99% in 2014/15). The presence of these stocks was expected to hold prices back. For example, as recently as October, the International Cotton Advisory Committee expected the CotLook A Index to average just 69 US cents/lb for the 2017/18 season (the cotton season is from October to September). To date, the average is 84.4 USc/lb. Rabobank says that the unexpected lift in prices is due to a squeeze on mill supply positions in the short-term, which has been exacerbated by near-record speculator long positions in the futures market. The surge in cotton prices may mean that mills lift their usage of synthetic fibres in response, causing cotton prices to retreat.
Further details including a chart showing trends in cotton prices, production, stocks and consumption are provided in the NCWSBA Weekly Newsletter for the week ending 25th January 2018. Available to NCWSBA members.