* Trade awaits release of USDA export sales, plantings data
NEW YORK, June 27 (Reuters) – Cotton futures settled lower Wednesday on sales by speculators as bearish fundamentals more than offset gains in global stocks, crude, grains and precious metals, analysts said.
Benchmark December cotton on ICE Futures U.S. slipped 0.24 cent to finish at 67.96 cents per lb, moving from 67.93 to 69.19 cents. On Tuesday, the trading range was at 68.04 to 70.30 cents.
Volume traded Wednesday stood above 12,800 lots, almost 50 percent under the 30-day norm, Thomson Reuters data showed.
All outside markets rose
[0/R}, giving an initial boost to cotton. But the momentum faded late in the session when speculators dumped cotton, brokers said.
“It is very difficult to find a motivation because there is very little (encouraging) in the background,” said Mike Stevens, a long-time cotton dealer in Mandeville, Louisiana.
Fundamentally, traders said the market is looking at plentiful supplies and weak fiber demand, which makes it tough to sustain any advance in prices.
December cotton appears pinned in a band from 67 to 73 cents.
Brokers said the market awaited a pair of government reports. The first, on Thursday, is the U.S. Agriculture Department’s weekly export sales report, which would gauge cotton market conditions in the world.
The second is the annual USDA plantings data on Friday, which will set the stage for how much will be planted in the coming 2012/13 marketing year (August/July).
Tuesday’s volume amounted to 19,150 lots, ICE Futures U.S. data showed.
Open interest in the cotton market, an indicator of investor exposure, stood at 166,771 lots as of June 26, barely changed from the 166,768 lots as of June 25, exchange data showed.
(Reporting by Rene Pastor; Editing by John Wallace)