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ICE cotton settles flat amid supportive U.S. export sales data

June 14 (Reuters) - ICE cotton futures settled almost unchanged on Thursday as investors rolled over their positions from the July contract to the December contract amid a supportive weekly export sales report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

* The most active cotton contract on ICE Futures U.S., the

third-month December contract , settled up 0.03

cent, or 0.03 percent, at 92.96 cents per lb. It traded within a range of 91.62 and 93.33 cents a lb.

* "We are seeing rollover from July to December. ... So normally you will see high volumes but sideways action. We also had (WASDE) numbers this week which were in line with expectations," said Jon Marcus, president of brokerage firm Lakefront Futures and Options in Chicago.

* "It seems to me there is a little bit of exhaustion over the moves from May. Now you are just seeing a bit of consolidation."

* The USDA on Thursday reported net upland sales of 34,800 running bales (RB) for 2017/2018, noticeably up from the previous week's marketing-year low, and 226,700 RB for 2018-19 for the week ended June 7. Exports of 459,900 RB were down 20 percent from the previous week, but up 4 percent from the prior four-week average.

* "I thought it (exports sales report) was relatively good. It shows there is good demand across markets," said Beau Stephenson, senior vice president at Omnicotton Inc.

* "It wasn't overwhelming but there isn't that much to sell right now. With the uncertainty about the new crop, you wouldn't imagine huge sales numbers at this time."

* China has approved 800,000 tonnes of additional cotton import quota for 2018, the state planner said on Thursday, confirming a widely anticipated move by Beijing to allow more overseas purchases.

* "The issuance of more sliding scale quota should be market-supportive and offers some confirmation of rumors regarding China's likely smaller cotton production this year," said Louis Rose, director of research and analytics at Tennessee-based Rose Commodity.

* "At current prices, we think that the market will have difficulty moving much higher over the near-term, at least."

* Total futures market volume fell by 23,802 to 43,733 lots. Data showed total open interest gained 1,005 to 310,613 contracts in the previous session.

* Certificated cotton stocks <CERT-COT-STX> deliverable as of June 13 totaled 80,590 480-lb bales, up from 79,472 in the previous session.

* Neutral conditions are likely through the Northern Hemisphere summer this year, a U.S. government weather forecaster said on Thursday, indicating that the extreme weather patterns known as El Niño or La Niña were less probable during this season.

(Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala and Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney)