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.
Cotton's gains are especially notable in a year that was dismal for most other crops amid large global gluts. Combined wagers on benchmark corn, wheat, and soybean contracts reached a net-short position of 421,450 contracts as of December 26, the CFTC figures show. That's the most-bearish ever in data that starts in 2006.
While both varieties of winter wheat posted gains in 2017, they were pretty small, coming in at less than five per cent. The other members of the Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex -- corn, soybeans, soybean meal, soybean oil, sugar, and coffee -- finished the year with losses. The gauge reached a record low in December, data going back to 1991 show.