July 22, 2014 / 8:59 PM / 6 years ago

ICE cotton ekes out gains as mills continue to nibble

* December briefly pierces 9-day MA

* Prices stuck in recent ranges on low volumes

NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) - Cotton futures rose slightly on Tuesday as mills continued to buy small parcels of fiber, even as technical selling pushed prices off their intraday highs after the market pierced a key short-term resistance earlier in the day.

Holding in recent ranges, the benchmark December cotton contract on ICE Futures U.S. closed up 0.22 cent, or 0.33 percent, at 67.91 cents a lb on just under 11,000 lots traded on the day.

Prices briefly pierced a 9-day moving average at 67.93 cents, seen by traders as a short-term resistance level, but the gains did not last long before pockets of producer selling emerged.

A close above that level would have helped the market break out of a recent bearish trading range and even revisit the 70-cent mark, Keith Brown, principal at cotton brokers Keith Brown and Co in Moultrie, Georgia.

But traders said it was tough to find any bullish factors in the market with rains sprinkling Texas and Georgia, the two largest producing states. The crop is later than expected, but farmers are bracing for a bumper yield.

A weekly U.S. government report released after excellent condition, a jump from the previous year.

While prices have been hammered by speculative selling in recent weeks, hitting two-year highs last week, prices have been outperforming the broader grains market. (Reporting by Josephine Mason. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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