AP News

Wheat, corn, soybeans make a U-turn, head higher

Prices for key crops like wheat, corn and soybeans rose Wednesday, their first increase this week.

Wheat, corn and soybean prices all rose about 2 percent after falling Monday and Tuesday.

To some investors, the increase seemed like a natural leveling off. Prices for all three crops rocketed higher this summer because investors worried that a crippling drought across the Midwest would devastate crop yields. But prices, while still elevated, have plateaued with recent rains and yields came in better than expected.

Investors seem to be realizing that they've already hit the highest prices for the current crop, said Spencer Patton, founder and chief investment officer of Steel Vine Investments.

"I don't think this is the start of a new trend higher, I don't think these are weather issues," Patton said of Wednesday's price increases.

December wheat rose 18 cents to $8.815 per bushel. December corn rose 16.5 cents to $7.565 per bushel. November soybeans rose 29.5 cents to $16.695 per bushel.

Industrial metals rose while energy prices fell. That's somewhat unusual because prices for industrial metals and oil tend to move in tandem, falling when investors are worried about the economy and rising when they are optimistic about it, since metals and energy are needed for manufacturing, transportation and other aspects of industry.

But on Wednesday prices for copper, palladium and platinum rose, while oil slid.

It's likely that metals prices were influenced by a pair of encouraging reports about the U.S. housing market.

Meanwhile U.S. crude oil supplies rose last week, by three times the amount that analysts expected, according to the Energy Information Administration. There were also reports that Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer, is keeping production up to drive down prices. Some analysts speculated that traders have decided that a recent run-up in oil prices — benchmark crude passed $100 on Friday — wasn't really justified.

December gold was virtually flat, rising 50 cents to $1,771.70 per ounce. December silver lost 13 cents to $34.588 per ounce.

The industrial metals all rose. December copper was up 2.7 cents to $3.814 per pound. December palladium rose $5.70 to $673.05 per ounce. October platinum rose $4.10 to $1,640.40 per ounce.

U.S. benchmark crude fell $3.31 to $91.98 per barrel, the first time since early August that it dropped below $92. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, fell $3.84 to $108.19 per barrel.

Wholesale gasoline fell 7 cents to $2.829 a gallon. Heating oil fell 8.3 cents to $3.044 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1 cent to $2.762 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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