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CHICAGO: ICE cotton futures fell on Thursday, weighed by weak export sales data, with a retreat in wider markets adding to the downbeat mood.

The cotton contract for March was down 0.99 cent, or 0.9%, at 115.29 cents per lb by 12:23 p.m. ET (1723 GMT). It traded within a range of 114.6 and 116.13 cents a lb.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly export sales report showed net sales of 143,200 running bales for 2021/2022, down 26% from the previous week, and 48% from the prior four-week average.

“The export and export shipment numbers were not great and this is probably adding some pressure on the prices,” said Jim Nunn, owner of Tennessee-based cotton brokerage Nunn Cotton, adding that exports may have been impacted by the holiday week.

“It is also not surprising that the market is down a little bit as it seems to be cooling off a little after going up in the last few sessions.”

The March cotton contract has gained 2% this week.

Chicago soybean futures edged lower as broad selling in financial markets countered weather concerns in South America that pushed prices to a five-month high.

Wall Street’s main indexes fell in choppy trading after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting struck a hawkish note.

Total futures market volume fell by 9,829 to 14,204 lots. Data showed total open interest gained 643 to 244,038 contracts in the previous session.

Certificated cotton stocks deliverable as of Jan 5 totalled 617 480-lb bales, unchanged from the previous session.

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