Cotton prices soared above 90 cents a pound for the first
time in nearly a year, while wheat soared 2.0%, helped by robust US crop export
data, which beat forecasts for corn too.
New York cotton futures for May delivery soared 2.5% to 90.86
cents a pound, their best finish since April last year.
The rise was helped by US Department of Agriculture
statistics showing that the US, top cotton exporter, sold 187,600 running bales
of cotton to foreign buyers last week, a up 25% week on week.
While actual shipments fell 31% week on week to 352,800 running
bales, "that is still a strong figure", said Keith Brown, at US-based cotton
broker Keith Brown & Co.
Other figures welcomed by investors included wheat export
sales of 888,500 tonnes, making it the second best week of the marketing year.
Factoring in nearly 200,000 tonnes of new crop sales on top,
the combined total made it the best week for US wheat sales since February 2011
and, according to broker Country Futures, was a "very bullish" result.
Wheat futures for May delivery stood 2.0% higher at $7.24 ½ a
bushel in closing deals in Chicago.
Corn export sales of 282,300 tonnes, for old crop,
represented an improvement on the net cancellations of orders seen the previous
week, if remaining soft by historical standards.
Nonetheless, adding in new crop orders, including 191,000
tonnes to much-watched Chinese buyers, the total of 653,300 tonnes made it the
best week for the grain since November, and beat market expectations.
The run of upbeat data did not, however, extend to the soy
complex, where combined new crop and old export sales of soybeans came in at
some 780,000 tonnes, short of market expectations, with those for soymeal
falling to 51,700 tonnes, their lowest of 2012-13.
Even so, actual shipments of soymeal topped 269,000 tonnes,
a figure termed "impressive" by RJ O'Brien's Richard Feltes.
Cotton's close higher extends a startling run which has
taken gains so far in 2013 to 21%, on a front contract basis.
Other factors seen as supporting prices include expectations
of continued Chinese imports, tight stocks elsewhere in the world, and a loss
of acreage to other crops, given the low prices relative to the likes of corn
and soybeans earlier in the year.
However, Mr Brown cautioned that the high prices were
already prompting cotton farmers to reassess ideas of switching crops.
"We are starting to see some corn acres taken out of
planting plans and go to cotton in the US South," he told Agrimoney.com.