* December drops below 50-day moving average
* Sell stops triggered
* Market awaits weekly USDA export sales data
NEW YORK, July 25 (Reuters) - Cotton futures closed down and near a one-month low Wednesday on speculative sales spurred by a drop below a technical level, brokers said.
The benchmark December cotton contract on ICE Futures U.S. fell 1.52 cents or 2.1 percent to end at 69.51 cents per lb, trading from 69.40 to 71.70 cents. That was the lowest settlement for the contract in almost a month, Thomson Reuters data showed.
Volume traded on Wednesday amounted to around 17,500 lots, about 50 percent under the 30-day norm, Thomson Reuters data showed.
Sharon Johnson, senior cotton expert at Knight Futures in Atlanta, said the December contract's decline under the 50-day moving average at 70.97 cents triggered automatic sell orders in the market.
"There's just nothing there to hold it," she said.
Outside markets were not dominant during the session. Stocks fell on weak global economic data, but Brent was up and U.S. crude pared losses while soybean and wheat bounced from a 2-day drop.
Analysts said market participants were now awaiting the release of the U.S. Agriculture Department's weekly export sales report on Thursday to gauge the level of demand for cotton.
On Friday, the market will digest the remarks of Joe Nicosia, president and chief executive of Allenberg Cotton Co, the world's biggest cotton merchant. Nicosia will be speaking at the Ag Market network. Allenberg is a wholly owned unit of trading giant Louis Dreyfus.
Dreyfus is facing a lawsuit filed by a former trader of manipulating the cotton market. The case is pending.
Open interest, an indicator of investor interest in a market, went up for the fifth session in a row to stand at 174,180 lots as of July 24, the exchange said.
Volume traded on Tuesday amounted to 16,549 lots, according to ICE Futures data. (Reporting by Rene Pastor; Editing by)