Cotton futures rose the most in more than a week after U.S. export sales jumped and an improving job market bolstered prospects for textile demand. Orange juice slipped.
Net sales of upland cotton more than doubled in the week ended March 8 from a week earlier, the government said today. The U.S. is the world’s largest exporter. Jobless claims dropped last week to match a four-year low, Labor Department figures showed. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke raised his assessment of the economy on March 13, while the central bank retained the option of providing more monetary stimulus.
“Some near-term support factors for cotton are good sales, Texas weather and, as always, Bernanke,” Rogers Varner Jr., the president of Varner Bros., a brokerage in Cleveland, Mississippi, said in an e-mail.
Cotton for May delivery rose 0.2 percent to close at 87.34 cents a pound at 2:34 p.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since March 5.
The fiber has tumbled 54 percent in the past year on forecasts for record harvests and rising global inventories.
“The big bear is there,” Varner said. He predicts prices may drop to 70 cents by the end of the year.
Last year’s U.S. cotton output was 13 percent smaller than the previous year as drought hurt crops in Texas, the biggest producing state. Dry conditions will continue across West Texas next week, according to Donald Keeney, a senior agricultural meteorologist at Gaithersburg, Maryland- based MDA Information Systems Inc.
Orange-juice futures for May delivery dropped 0.1 percent to $1.876 a pound in New York. The price has climbed 11 percent this year.
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