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July 18 (Reuters) - ICE cotton futures fell more than 1% to touch new three-year lows on Thursday, hurt by weak export sales data and stronger crop conditions in major growing regions in the United States.
* The most-active cotton contract on ICE Futures U.S., the
second-month December contract settled down 0.78
cent, or 1.25%, at 61.71 cents per lb.
* Prices for the second month contract touched 61.66 cents, its lowest since May 2016, earlier in the session.
* "The exports sales data was not good. We should have sold more cotton at a cheaper price and we are not doing that, so that says something about the demand for cotton," said Keith Brown, principal at cotton brokers Keith Brown and Co in Moultrie, Georgia.
* "Cotton is dealing with the same old affliction which is no trade deal with China. The U.S. crop is looking measurably better and the trend of the market is down which is self feeding," Brown added.
* Weekly export sales data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed net sales of 54,000 running bales (RB) for 2018/19 were up 1% from the previous week and 46% from the prior 4-week average for the week ending July 11.
* Exports of 310,300 RB were down 7% from the previous week and 6% from the prior 4-week average for the same period.
* Lack of demand and the long-drawn trade dispute between the United States and China has pushed cotton prices down over 16% so far this year.
* U.S. and Chinese officials are set to speak on Thursday, potentially paving the way for in-person trade talks, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
* Total futures market volume rose by 2,719 to 18,573 lots. Data showed total open interest gained 1,855 to 192,967 contracts in the previous session.
* Certificated cotton stocks <CERT-COT-STX> deliverable as of July 16 totaled 49,935 480-lb bales, down from 57,016 in the previous session.
(Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; editing by Grant McCool)