Monthly Economic Outlook

U.S. and World Cotton Economic Outlook

Prepared by:
Economic Services - National Cotton Council
October 2018

TO CONVERT BALES TO METRIC TONS:
number of bales / 4.59

TO CONVERT ACRES TO HECTARES:
number of acres * 0.40469

MACROECONOMIC ENVIRONMENTLet’s begin with an overview of the state of the general economy.

U.S. REAL GDP According to the latest estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2018. Estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis show an increase of 4.2 percent in the second quarter of 2018. 

 

OK-WTX CRUDE OIL SPOT PRICE – Since the beginning of the year, prices have fluctuated between $59.20 and $77.41 per barrel.    

 

#2 DIESEL FUEL RETAIL PRICE – Diesel prices have followed the same trend as that of crude oil prices.  The price for #2 diesel fuel at the beginning of October was roughly $2.36 per gallon.

 

UNEMPLOYMENT RATEThe unemployment rate was 3.7% for September, down slightly from the previous month’s unemployment rate.

 

FEDERAL BUDGET SURPLUSThe latest projections by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) show deficits continuing for the next several years.  For fiscal ’18, CBO projects a deficit of roughly $804 billion.  Deficits persist through 2022.

 

CBO AG BASELINE SPENDING Looking at fiscal 2018 through 2020, commodity programs are expected to cost between $5.3 and $9.7 billion per year, with conservation programs adding an additional $4.7 to $5.7 billion per year.  Within commodity support, cotton outlays average about $332 million per year.

 

WORLD REAL GDP GROWTHThe International Monetary Fund estimates that the world economy grew 3.7% during the course of 2017.  China’s economy was expected to increase 6.9% in 2017.  Estimates for India show GDP growth of 6.7% for 2017. For 2018, the world economy continued to grow at 3.7%.  China’s economy is expected to climb 6.6% in 2018 while estimates for India also show GDP growth of 7.3%.  For 2019, world GDP continues to climb at a rate of 3.7 % while the U.S., Indian and Chinese economic sectors are expected to continue to grow.

 

PERCENT CHANGE IN VALUE OF U.S. DOLLAR -   Currently, the euro is averaging 0.87 per dollar.   

 

EXCHANGE RATE INDEXThe Federal Reserve Board publishes a real exchange rate index comparing the dollar to a weighted average of currencies of important trading partners, excluding major developed economies.  Mexico carries the largest weight, followed by China, South Korea and Taiwan. The index showed a dramatic strengthening of the dollar in 1998 due to currency devaluations associated with the Asian financial crisis.  In early 2001, the index sat at just under 118.  The index peaked at roughly 124 in 2003, but now sits at roughly 111.

 

AG PRICES RECEIVEDThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) publishes indices of prices received by farmers.  The latest index of crop prices is 89.9.  The index of livestock prices now stands at 90.5.

 

NET FARM INCOMENet farm income, a broad measure of profits, is forecast to decrease $9.8 billion (13.0 percent) from 2017 to $65.7 billion in 2018, after increasing $13.9 billion (22.5 percent) in 2017. Net cash farm income is forecast to decrease $12.4 billion (12.0 percent) to $91.5 billion.

 

U.S. COTTON SUPPLYHaving set the stage for the overall economy, let’s turn our attention to the U.S. cotton sector.

 

DEC COTTON FUTURES Over the life of each contract, the December 2018 contract has averaged roughly $0.77 per pound, over six cents higher than the December 2017 contract.            

 

DEC CORN FUTURESOver the life of each contract, the average value of the December 2018 futures contract has been roughly $0.09 per bushel higher than the December 2017 contract.         

 

NOV SOYBEAN FUTURES - Over the life of each contract, the November 2018 soybean contract has averaged roughly $0.09 per bushel lower than the November 2017 contract.  

 

U.S. COTTON ACREAGEAccording to USDA’s October Production Report, producers intend to plant 14.04 million acres, up 11.3% from 2017. Upland planted area is estimated to increase 11.6% to 13.79 million acres. ELS cotton producers intend to plant 248,000 acres, down 2.0%.

 

U.S. COTTON PRODUCTION – In its October report, for 2016, the USDA forecast U.S. production at 17.2 million bales.  An increase of roughly 3.8 million bales is projected for the 2017 crop with production rising to 20.9 million bales.  U.S. production is estimated to be roughly 19.8 million bales for 2018/19.

 

U.S. COTTON SUPPLYIn the October report, USDA estimates production at 17.2 million bales and beginning stocks of roughly 3.8 million for the 2016 crop year.  Combined with imports this gives total supplies of roughly 21.0 million bales for the 2016/17 marketing year.

 

By adding beginning stocks of 2.8 million bales to the 20.9 million bale crop, USDA believes total U.S. supply will rise roughly 2.7 million bales to 23.7 million bales in 2017.

 

For the 2018 crop year, combining projected production of 19.8 million bales with expected beginning stocks of 4.3 million bales results in a total U.S. supply of 24.1 million bales. This is up 400,000 million bales from the 2017 level.

 

U.S. COTTON DEMANDMoving along, we’ll focus on U.S. cotton demand.

 

U.S. RETAIL FIBER CONSUMPTION Net domestic consumption is a measure of the size of the U.S. retail market. It measures both cotton spun in the U.S. (mill use) and cotton consumed through textile imports. Total fiber consumption in 2017 is estimated to be 51.4 million bale equivalents. Cotton’s share of net domestic consumption decreased 0.1% this past year to 34.4%, which translates to 17.7 million bales. For 2018, NCC projects net domestic consumption of all fibers to increase to 53.2 million bales. With a projected share of 34.2%, cotton’s net domestic consumption is projected to be 18.2 million bales.

 

COTTON’S SHARE OF CONSUMPTIONWhile it is important that the retail market continue to grow, cotton must also be concerned with its share of the market and the competition from manmade fibers. During the past few years, cotton’s share of the U.S. retail market has been on the decline. In 2002, cotton’s share reached just over 43%. The higher prices of 2003 were met with some shifting from cotton to other fibers. As a result, cotton’s share of the retail market dipped. However, in 2006 cotton’s share of the retail market climbed back up to 43.1%.  For 2008, cotton’s share of the retail markets reached the 44.0% mark.  In 2009, cotton’s share had fallen back to just over 43%. This decline continued in 2010 through 2016.  Cotton’s share of the retail market is estimated at 34.4% in 2017.

 

U.S. RETAIL COTTON CONSUMPTION (MONTHLY) – The U.S. retail market reached 17.7 million bales of cotton textile products for calendar 2017.  Data through August shows us running slightly ahead of last year.  

 

U.S. RETAIL COTTON CONSUMPTION (HISTORICAL) - Imported goods make up the largest portion of U.S. net domestic consumption. Imported cotton textiles increased from 17.8 million bale equivalents in 2016 to an estimated 18.0 million in 2017.

 

U.S. COTTON TEXTILE IMPORTS - Imports of cotton goods in calendar 2017 were estimated to have increased by 0.9% to 18.0 million bale equivalents. In calendar 2018, NCC projects cotton textile imports to increase to 18.3 million bales.

 

U.S. COTTON CONTENT -   For textile imports, it is important to consider that a significant portion of imported goods contain U.S. cotton. Since much of what the U.S. exports to the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and the CBI (Caribbean Basin Initiative) countries is in the form of fabric and piece goods that come back in the form of finished goods, the trade gap is not as wide as implied by gross imports and exports. NCC analysts estimate that 26.1% of all cotton goods imported in 2017 contained U.S. cotton. This is a 0.2% decrease over the previous year. In bale equivalents, these imported cotton goods contained 4.7 million bales of U.S. cotton. This is due, in large part, to our trading partners in NAFTA and the CBI.

 

COTTON TEXTILE TRADE WITH MEXICO - Imports from Mexico in 2017 were estimated at 962 thousand bales, up approximately 4.5% from the previous year.

 

COTTON TEXTILE TRADE WITH CBI –  Imported cotton goods from CBI for the year were estimated at 2.2 million bale equivalents, down 3.1% from the previous year.

 

COTTON TEXTILE IMPORTS FROM CHINA- Total cotton product imports from China increased to an estimated 5.8 million bale equivalents in 2017, up 3.0% from 2016 and up by more than 600% from 2001 when China entered the WTO. China’s share of imported cotton goods in the U.S. market accelerated from 10.9% in 2004 to an estimated 32.2% in 2017.

 

CALENDAR MILL USE Cotton mill use decreased from the previous year and is estimated at 3.3 million bales in calendar 2017, 3.5% below 2016. For calendar 2018, NCC forecasts domestic mill use of cotton at 3.4 million bales.

 

CROP YEAR MILL USEUSDA’s latest estimate for mill use in the 2016 crop year is 3.25 million bales. The USDA estimates 2017 crop year mill use at 3.23 million bales. For 2018, USDA projects domestic mill use of cotton at 3.40 million bales.

 

U.S. COTTON PRODUCTION & USE - Looking at the 2016 crop year, USDA estimates exports at roughly 14.9 million bales while U.S. production is estimated at 17.2 million bales and mill use is estimated to be 3.3 million bales.  For 2017, exports rise to 15.9 million bales while mill use is expected to remain basically unchanged at 3.2 million bales.  Production is expected to rise.  USDA estimates U.S. production to be 20.9 million bales for 2017/18. For 2018, mill use grows to 3.4 million bales while production falls to 19.8 million bales and exports are expected to slip to 15.5 million bales.

 

WORLD MARKET Exports of U.S. cotton will be dependent on conditions in the world market.

 

CHINA COTTON SUPPLY & USEFor China, production is estimated to be 22.8 million bales for the 2016 crop year.  In terms of consumption, one of the big questions will be the factors driving China’s mill use.  Much of the growth has been fueled by the push to increase textile exports, and they will continue to be a significant exporter of textiles.  However, over the past couple of years, it’s becoming more evident that growth in their own consumer demand for cotton textiles is also driving the textile industry.  Assuming this trend will continue, mill use is projected to be roughly 38.5 million bales.  For 2017, production will increase to 27.5 million bales while mill use climbs to 41.0 million bales. For the 2018 crop year, USDA projects production to remain unchanged at 27.5 million bales while mill use grows to 42.5 million bales. 

 

WORLD COTTON PRODUCTION - USDA estimates put the 2016 crop at 106.6 million bales and roughly 123.5 million bales for the 2017 crop.  USDA estimates for 2018/19 show world production at roughly 121.7 million bales.      

 

WORLD FIBER DEMANDThe competition from man-made fiber is getting stronger all of the time. According to PCI, the use of polyester has surpassed cotton, and for 2010, consumption approached 170 million bales. This is over 54 million bales above their estimate of the consumption of cotton.  For 2018, PCI estimates polyester consumption to rise to approximately 247 million bales.

 

 FIBER PRICES – Cotton prices have worked their way back to and above the level of manmade fiber prices.     

 

WORLD COTTON MILL USE In its October report, USDA estimates 2016 world mill use at 116.2 million bales and 123.3 million bales for the 2017 crop year.  For crop year 2018 mill use is set at roughly 127.8 million bales.    

  

FOREIGN PRODUCTION & USEThe gap between foreign production and use influences our ability to export cotton.  In 2016, production was estimated at 89.5 million bales and mill use at 112.9 million bales.  For the 2017 crop year, production is estimated at 102.6 million bales and mill use at 120.1 million bales.  For the 2018 crop year, production is estimated at 101.9 million bales and mill use at 124.4 million bales.

 

U.S. COTTON EXPORTS According to USDA, the U.S. exported 14.9 million bales in the 2016 crop year.  In 2017, exports rose to 15.9 million bales.  For 2018, exports slipped to an estimated 15.5 million bales.   

 

WORLD ENDING STOCKS - World stocks on July 31, 2017 are estimated to reach 80.9 million bales. While there are a host of uncertainties that can lead to major changes in the balance sheet, not the least of which is weather, the current estimates still leave us with a lot of stocks to work through the system. According to USDA, stocks were roughly 80.9 million bales by the end of the 2017 marketing year.  By the end of the 2018 marketing year, stocks are estimated to fall to 74.5 million bales. 

 

COTTON STOCKS/USEAnother way to look at the stocks situation is to focus on the stocks/use relationship for the world less China.  For the 2003 marketing year, that ratio was estimated to be 44%. The larger ’04 crop pushed that ratio back up to 60%. The ratio was estimated at 55% for the 2005 marketing year and 57% for 2006.  For 2007, the ratio was estimated to remain unchanged at 57%.  In 2008, the stocks-to-use ratio was somewhere around 60% and 46% in 2009.  For 2010, the stocks-to-use ratio was estimated to climb to 56%.  For the 2011 marketing year, the ratio was estimated to climb to 62% and fell to 54% in the 2012 marketing year. The stock-to-use ratio dropped to 50% through the 2013 marketing year. For 2014, the ratio was estimated to climb to 53%. The ratio is estimated to fall to 44% in 2015 and climb slightly to 45% in 2016.  For 2017, the stocks-to-use ratio is forecast to climb to 52% and remain unchanged at 52% for 2018.

 

U.S. SUPPLY & DEMANDIn its October report, U.S. production is estimated to be 20.9 million bales for 2017/18. Mill use is estimated at 3.2 million bales while exports are reported to be 15.9 million bales. The estimated total offtake stands at 19.1 million bales. With beginning stocks of roughly 2.8 million bales, this would result in U.S. ending stocks of 4.3 million bales on July 31, 2018, and a stocks-to-use ratio of 22.5%.

 

For the 2018 crop year, U.S. production is estimated to be 19.8 million bales. Mill use is forecast at 3.4 million bales while exports are forecast to be 15.5 million bales. The estimated total offtake stands at 18.9 million bales. With beginning stocks of 4.3 million bales, this would result in U.S. ending stocks of 5.0 million bales on July 31, 2019, and a stocks-to-use ratio of 26.5%.

 

WORLD SUPPLY & DEMANDIn USDA’s October report, world production is estimated at 123.5 million bales for the 2017/18 crop year.  Mill use is set at roughly 123.3 million bales. With beginning stocks of 80.9 million bales, this would result in world ending stocks of roughly 80.9 million bales on July 31, 2018, and a stocks-to-use ratio of 65.6%.

 

World production is estimated at 121.7 million bales for the 2018/19 crop year.  Mill use is forecast at 127.8 million bales. With beginning stocks of 80.9 million bales, this would result in world ending stocks of 74.5 million bales on July 31, 2019, and a stocks-to-use ratio of 58.3%.