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NEW YORK: ICE cotton futures rose on Thursday, hovering near an over two-year high scaled in the last session, on an upbeat weekly export sales report and a slight dip in the dollar.

The cotton contract for March rose 0.39 cent, or 0.5%, to 81.31 cents per lb by 12:37 p.m. EST (1737 GMT).

"We had a very good export sales report indicating that demand is still there and business is going on," said Jim Nunn, owner of Tennessee cotton brokerage Nunn Cotton.

The US Department of Agriculture's weekly export sales report showed net sales of 326,000 running bales for 2020/2021, up 113% from the previous week and 2% from the prior four-week average.

"The dollar index is a little bit lower than what it was on Wednesday and we're seeing some strengthening in the Brazilian real too, which helps US crops be more competitive," Nunn said.

The US dollar fell 0.1% against key rivals, making greenback-denominated cotton less expensive for investors holding other currencies.

Total futures market volume fell by 20,509 to 16,657 lots. Market participants also took stock of an announcement from the Trump administration about an import ban on all cotton and tomato products from western China's Xinjiang region on Wednesday, over allegations that they are made with forced labour from detained Uighur Muslims.

Certificated cotton stocks deliverable as of Jan. 12 totalled 68,631 480-lb bales, lower than 68,681 in the previous session.