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Cotton was ’17’s star crop, and funds have high hopes for ’18

The longest winning streak in two decades propelled cotton to 2017’s biggest increase among crop commodities, and hedge funds are ready for more gains in 2018.
Of the nine components tracked by the Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, only cotton and wheat contracts posted gains last year. The fiber lead the way with an 11 per cent advance as demand grew for US exports. Prices capped 2017 with 10 straight weekly gains, the best streak since 1998.
Cotton was also one of the few crops that hedge funds got more positive on during the course of the year. Money managers held a net-long position, or the difference between bets on a price increase and wagers on a decline, of 102,402 futures and options as of December 26, according to US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released Friday. That’s up from 76,052 at the end of 2016.
Cotton’s stellar performance came as crop woes in Pakistan and India, two of the world’s biggest growers, raised prospects for American shipments. In the 2017-2018 season, commitments for US cotton exports are running 29 per cent higher than a year earlier, government data show.
The investors also added to their bullish outlook in soybean meal in 2017, the CFTC show. By contrast, the funds lowered their net-long holdings in soybean oil, while turning bearish on coffee, sugar and soybeans during the year.