* Talk turns to May deliveries later in April
NEW YORK, April 3 (Reuters) – Cotton futures settled easier on Tuesday on sales by small speculators as market talk began turning to deliveries in the spot contract, which start later in the month, analysts said.
The benchmark May contract on ICE Futures U.S. shed 0.48 cent to finish at 92.64 cents per lb, trading from 93.80 to 92.41.
New-crop December declined 0.21 cent to end at 90.54 cents.
Volume traded on Tuesday was around 22,272 lots, slightly under the 30-day norm, Thomson Reuters data showed.
Independent analyst Mike Stevens said the May contract is showing some strength, a possible sign there will be trading houses who will take delivery of cotton when its goes into notice day near the end of April.
Traders said outside markets failed to provide any leads for cotton, with the narrowing spread between spot May and second position July the main feature of business.
Cotton was partly pressured by profit-taking in the grains complex.
Analysts said that recent rallies in grains prices meant farmers in the U.S. Delta states and the Southeast would likely be planting more soybeans and corn and away from cotton during the spring planting season.
The next USDA acreage report is due to be released on June 30, and this will set the stage for the upcoming 2012/13 marketing year (August/July).
Open interest in the cotton market, an indicator of investor exposure in the market, stood at 191,818 lots, exchange data showed.
On March 30, it rose for the first time in five sessions to 192,184 lots, the highest level since Feb. 9, the data said.
(Reporting by Rene Pastor; Editing by Alden Bentley)