Cotton sinks 17 pct; third-worst performing commodity

NEW YORK Mon Dec 31, 2012 2:58pm EST

NEW YORK Dec 31 (Reuters) - Cotton ended 2012 as the third worst-performing commodity market of the year, falling 17 percent from last year as the market struggled with oversupply and overall sluggish demand.

Even so, fibers closed the fourth quarter on a positive note, rising 8.6 percent after a late year-end rally. That was its best performance since the first quarter of 2011 when prices soared to above $2.20 per lb, highs last seen during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s.

The buying in the final weeks of 2012 was fueled by hopes that China, the world's largest consumer and producer, will beef up its buying in 2013 and expectations that farmers will plant less cotton in the spring in favor of higher-priced grains.

The double-digit percentage loss this year comes after prices plunged 36.6 percent in 2011. (Reporting By Josephine Mason)

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