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NEW YORK: ICE cotton futures gained ground on Friday after a weekly federal report showed higher export sales of the natural fibre, while a weaker dollar added further support.

Cotton contracts for December rose 0.82 cent, or 1%, to 85.86 cents per lb by 11:49 am EDT (1549 GMT). It traded within a range of 84.4 and 86.85 cents a lb.

Cotton prices were also set for their best week since April, rising 3.1%.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s weekly export sales report showed net sales of 180,800 Running Bales for the 2020/2021 marketing year, 6% above the previous week and 82% higher than the prior 4-week average.

The report also included 366,500 RB of exports with 96,400 RB to top-cotton consumer China. Exports were also 13% higher than the previous week and 5% above the prior 4-week average.

“As the world comes out from the curse of Covid, we’ll continue to see pretty strong (cotton) demand,” said Keith Brown, principal at cotton brokers Keith Brown in Georgia, adding that cotton prices could scale late February’s multi-year peak of 96.2 cents this month.

Also aiding cotton’s rise, the dollar index fell 0.4%, lowering the cost of green-back denominated cotton for buyers holding other currencies.