Cotton prices soared in New York on Monday after India abruptly banned cotton exports, a move that traders said could send Chinese buyers flocking to the US market.
India, the world's second-biggest cotton exporter, on Monday halted all cotton exports to protect domestic supplies until further notice, with immediate effect.
Cotton futures prices shot up on the ICE exchange in New York. The benchmark contract for May delivery rose the daily maximum of four cents in early trade to 92.23 cents per pound and held there for the rest of the session.
On India's MCX Kapas, cotton futures for April eased four percent on expectation of improved supplies.
The ban came just six months after India completely freed cotton export controls. Strong shipments mainly to China brought about the move: India already has exported 8.5 million bales in the fiscal year ending March 31, more than the government's limit of 8.4 million bales.
The sudden cut-off will trigger a scramble to replace the 1.5-3.5 million bales already ordered, most of them by China.
John Flanagan at Flanagan Trading said that could be a big positive for US producers.
"India is proving to be an unreliable source of cotton," he said.
"Chinese buyers will decide whether they look for a new (producer) which will mainly be the US," he said.
Even so, the price spike was expected to rapidly ease because of the abundant world cotton supplies, key to industry and textiles.
"Global cotton inventories are likely to rise almost by a third year-on-year, taking inventories to a two-year high and providing a buffer to the market," Barclays Capital analysts said in a research note.
The rise in inventories would come after extreme tightness in supplies and low inventories during the 2009-2011 period, they said.