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ICE cotton futures were little changed on Wednesday as investors waited for weekly federal export sales data from the US Department of Agriculture for more information on demand for the natural fiber. Cotton contract for December were 0.51% higher at 61.29 cents per lb by 2:26 pm EDT (1826 GMT).

"It (cotton market) has been quiet and a lot of that attributes to the fact that people are not sure what direction to take," said Jon Marcus, president of Lakefront Futures and Options brokerage in Chicago. "You are just in a spot where you need some kind of news to stir this market, some good export numbers will probably do it."

USDA will release the weekly export sales report on Thursday. Cotton prices dropped as much as 1% to a session low of 60.38 cents earlier in the day. The market is consolidating and there is increasing harvest pressure amid good weather conditions, said Louis Rose, director of research and analytics at Tennessee-based Rose Commodity Group.

The weekly crop condition report released by USDA on Monday showed 16% of cotton was harvested compared with 11% a week ago. "I don't think you're going to see cotton too much higher and 61.70 is a possibility but that's a stretch. It's probably trying to test some support down in the 60 cents range and then you might see some buying come in," Marcus said.

Cotton prices have moved within a 3-cent range in the past three weeks. Total futures market volume fell by 9,646 lots to 16,382 lots. Data showed total open interest fell 129 to 234,958 contracts in the previous session.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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