From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Cotton rose, capping the biggest annual gain since 1973, as inventories plunged, adverse weather damaged global crops and demand surged in China, the world's biggest user.

Stockpiles monitored by ICE Futures U.S. tumbled 72 percent in 2010, the biggest annual decline since at least 2003, when the data begins. Flooding in Australia and Pakistan and hail in Texas, the biggest U.S. producing state, damaged crops. China's imports will jump 56 percent this year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

"Mother Nature has not been very kind," said Keith Brown, the president of Keith Brown & Co., a brokerage in Moultrie, Georgia. "Prices will remain strong as the supply situation is not going to improve in the immediate future."

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