Cotton ending stocks in the US are forecast to decline to 3.4m bales, thanks to reduced production and “very strong” export shipments in recent weeks.

According to the US Department of Agriculture’s latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, exports of US cotton have risen 400,000 bales, while forecast average prices were raised by one cent at the lower end.

However, the forecast for 2011/12 world cotton ending stocks recorded a sharp increase thanks to significant revisions to the estimated cotton stocks held by India last August.

As a result, beginning stocks in India were raised by 3.25m bales, with ending stocks up by 1.6m bales, the USDA said.

It added that China’s stockpiling of cotton was constraining free supplies, boosting the country’s imports while limiting consumption and leading to a 3m-bale increase in stocks to 23.1m bales.

Assuming minimal release of reserve stocks before the end of the marketing year on 31 July, China’s forecast ending stocks will account for 35% of global stocks of cotton, the USDA said.

Meanwhile, world production estimates were cut by about 500,000 bales, thanks to reduced production in India and the US, offset by increases for Pakistan and Sudan.

And global consumption estimates were reduced by 1m bales, making them about 6% lower than 2010/11.