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NEW YORK: ICE cotton futures edged up on Thursday, holding near the previous session’s multi-year peak, as market participants expect next week’s USDA monthly supply/demand report to show a drop in ending stocks.

The cotton contract for March rose 0.20 cent, or 0.3%, to 80.26 cents per lb by 11:48 a.m. EST (1648 GMT).

The contract touched its highest level since December 2018 at 80.93 cents on Wednesday.

“The crop is going to be lower and the ending stocks are going to be lower” and these expectations are supporting the market, said Louis Barbera, partner and analyst at VLM Commodities Ltd.

The closely followed monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report by the US Department of Agriculture is due on Jan. 12.

Meanwhile, the USDA’s weekly export sales report showed that net sales of 153,100 running bales (RB) for 2020/2021 were down 47% from the previous week, while exports of 270,000 RB were down 2%.

Louis Rose, director of research and analytics at Tennessee-based Rose Commodity Group, in a note, attributed the gain in prices to a drought across West Texas and projections of lower cotton acreage in 2021.

Investors’ sentiment in the broader markets remained positive, with Wall Street hitting record levels on hopes for more pandemic aid under a Democrat-controlled US Congress, to help the economy ride out a steep downturn.

Total futures market volume fell by 13,010 to 19,313 lots. Data showed total open interest gained 2,060 to 239,300 contracts in the previous session.

Certificated cotton stocks deliverable as of Jan. 5 totaled 70,847 480-lb bales, unchanged from 70,847 in the previous session.