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Cotton Gains on Signs of Tighter Asia Supply

April 18 (Bloomberg) -- Cotton futures jumped to a two-week high on signs of slumping production in China, the world’s biggest grower and consumer. Orange juice fell.

China’s cotton output is likely to drop below 6 million metric tons in the year starting Aug. 1 amid low prices and high input costs, Zhu Gang, a researcher at the China Academy of Social Science, said in an online webcast today. The country will produce 8.04 million tons in the current season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said April 10. The fiber has plunged 59 percent from a record $2.197 a pound reached on March 7, 2011.

The smaller Chinese crop “is rather supportive,” to prices, Sterling Smith, a market analyst with Country Hedging, a brokerage in St. Paul, Minnesota, said in an e-mail.

Cotton for July delivery jumped 2 percent to settle at 90.02 cents at 2:33 p.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. Earlier, the commodity climbed by the exchange limit of 4 cents to 92.25 cents, the highest for a most-active contract since April 4.

Inventories in India, the second-biggest grower, may sink to the lowest in eight years as record exports deplete reserves, according to A.B. Joshi, the nation’s textile commissioner. The country’s shipments may surge 47 percent to 11.5 million bales in the year ending Sept. 30 from the previous season, he said. An Indian bale weighs 170 kilograms.

In the week ended April 10, money managers boosted their bets on price declines to 2,561 futures and options from a net-long position, or wagers on a rally, of 7,296 a week earlier, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show.

The drop in India’s stockpiles “has the shorts’ attention,” Peter Egli, a Chicago-based director of risk management at Plexus Cotton Ltd., said in an e-mail.

“China remains an enigma, because they keep importing cotton at a pretty good clip, so maybe the government there knows that output next season will be a lot less,” Egli said.

Orange-juice futures for July delivery slid 1 percent to $1.4565 a pound on ICE.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marvin G. Perez in New York at mperez71@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net

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