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Corn Prices Surge to 10-Year Highs

Published on 2 November, 2006, Last updated at 11:35 GMT


Corn prices on the Chicago Board of Trade rose sharply to 10-year highs Thursday, on concerns about the size of the U.S. corn crop and ongoing demand for ethanol.

With corn surging, wheat and soybeans prices also climbed.

December corn gained 11.25 cents to $3.4475 per bushel, trading at their highest levels in more than 10 years.

March corn rallied 12.25 cents to $3.5925 a bushel.

New life-of-contract highs were set through the September 2008 contract.

Surging demand for corn from the domestic ethanol industry and exporters has led the market higher for most of the fall.

Although the United States is projected to harvest the third-largest crop in history, concerns about the effect that wet weather had in parts of the U.S. Midwest this fall has market participants concerned that the Agriculture Department could reduce its November crop production estimate set for release next week, after trimming its estimate in October to 10.905 billion bushels.

"The market has rallied over $1 since September, and corn has attracted the outside investment community, but at the same time corn has underlying fundamental support," said Shawn McCambridge, senior grain analyst at Prudential Financial in Chicago. That increased participation confirms the validity of the run-up and reduces selling interest, he added.

Meanwhile, in other CBOT trading, November soybeans finished 3.25 cents higher at $6.4825 a bushel, and January soybeans ended 13 cents higher at $6.6125 a bushel. December soymeal settled $2.20 higher at $195.30 per short ton, while December soyoil ended 0.03 cents higher at 27.50 cents a pound.

December CBOT wheat settled 4.25 cents higher at $4.92 per bushel, December Kansas City Board of Trade wheat ended 4 cents higher at $5.23 a bushel, and December Minneapolis Grain Exchange wheat closed 4.5 cents higher at $5.04 a bushel.

Strong gains were also posted by precious metals futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold and silver futures leaped to fresh eight-week highs, pushed up by a batch of negative U.S. economic data.

At settlement, the benchmark December gold contract was up $8.50 at $627.80 a troy ounce. Earlier, the contract hit an eight-week high of $628.30 an ounce.

The most-active December silver contract hit an eight-week high of $12.67 an ounce. It then later settled at $12.65 an ounce, up 17.5 cents on the day.

"The fact is that (U.S.) labor costs are at 24-year highs, meaning that there is inflation built into the system, and when it is built into labor it is seen as the beginning of the biggest escalation of inflation," said Tom O'Brien, analyst and publisher of The Gold Report.

January platinum reached a six-week high of $1,168 an ounce. The contract later settled at $1,164.20 an ounce, up $63.50 on the day.

December palladium closed $2.65 stronger at $326.75 an ounce.

December copper contract rose 5.05 cents to settle at $3.2915 per pound.

In Nymex energy trading, crude oil futures fell to a two-week settlement low as traders eyed forecasts for warm U.S. November weather and questioned the ability of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to deliver on planned production cuts.

The front-month December light, sweet crude contract fell 83 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $57.88 a barrel, the lowest settlement for a front-month contract since Oct. 20, when crude hit an 11-month low.

December heating oil fell 1.18 cents to $1.6397 a gallon, and front-month December unleaded gasoline fell 0.99 cents to $1.4531 a gallon.

Natural gas for December delivery settled 10.2 cents higher Thursday at $7.814 a million British thermal units.

On the New York Board of Trade, cocoa futures rose with help from industry buying. The December contracts climbed $27 to settle at $1,490 a metric ton.

March futures on raw sugar in foreign ports settled 0.03 cents higher at 11.53 cents a pound.

Arabica coffee futures for December delivery closed 1.9 cents higher at $1.1055 a pound.

December cotton rose 0.40 cents to settle at 49.18 cents a pound.


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