By Rene Pastor

NEW ORLEANS, Jan 4 (Reuters) – The U.S. cotton industry remains worried about volatile trading in the futures market and is hopeful that demand is gradually recovering from the world’s worst economic downturn in 70 years, a senior official said Monday.

Mark Lange, president of the National Cotton Council, an industry group, said that a top concern of the trade in 2010 would be “continuing concerns about market volatility and confidence in the futures market.”

He spoke with Reuters at the start of the Council’s annual Beltwide Cotton Conference which runs Monday through Thursday in New Orleans.

A spike in cotton prices in March 2008 to around 92 cents a lb from 50 cents caused millions of dollars in losses for many companies in the cotton industry which could not keep up with rising margin payments as cotton futures ran higher.

Several merchants were driven out of business.

Paul Reinhart of Richardson, Texas, filed for bankruptcy protection in October 2008, followed by Weil Brothers of Montgomery, Alabama, a month later.