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NEW YORK: ICE cotton futures were little changed on Thursday as market participants were in a wait-and-watch mode ahead of the weekly exports sales report by the US Department of Agriculture.

Cotton contract for December was steady at 68.96 cents per lb by 1:36 pm EDT (1736 GMT).

"The export sales data is tomorrow and investors are expecting to see more sales to Pakistan and Vietnam rather than China. The yarn business is going well in those two countries and they are fond on the US cotton," said Jordan Lea, senior trader at DECA Global.

"Technically, cotton will target the price of 70 cents on the upside, while support could be around 66 cents," Lea added.

Prices earlier in the session fell as much as 0.8% to a session low of 68.41 cents per lb, as the US dollar rose to a near two-week high against rivals.

"The market is trying to figure out if with the strength in the dollar and the strength in the other markets the demand can still keep up," Louis Barbera, partner and analyst at VLM Commodities Ltd said.

Demand has increased exponentially in China, but they are mostly buying Brazilian cotton, he added.

Total futures market volume fell by 5,988 to 15,022 lots. Data showed total open interest gained 1,178 to 234,073 contracts in the previous session.

Certificated cotton stocks deliverable as of Oct. 14 totalled 24,457 480-lb bales, up from 24,232 in the previous session.-Reuters