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Soybeans extend declines as Chinese demand wanes

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NEW YORK (AP) — Soybeans are falling after the U.S. government reported weaker demand for the crop from Chinese buyers.

March soybeans fell 5 cents to $14.18 a bushel Thursday. The contract has declined six out of the last seven days and is down 3.5 percent this month.

Demand for U.S. soybeans has also been undermined by forecasts for a strong harvest in South America, especially Brazil.

"Now we're looking at South American soybeans coming back into the market and that will certainly pressure the cash market here," said Sterling Smith, a commodities strategist at Citigroup. "They're cheap and there's going to be a lot of them."

In other grain trading, wheat and corn also fell.

Wheat fell 3.5 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $7.32 a bushel. Corn for March delivery also edged lower, falling 0.75 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $6.9475 a bushel. Corn has now dropped for the last 10 trading days.

Metals fell, led by silver.

Gold for April delivery dropped $9.60, or 0.6 percent, to $1,635.50. Silver for March delivery fell 51.60 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $30.3530.

Platinum for April delivery dropped $18.80, or 1.1 percent, to $1.710.90. March palladium fell $8, or 1 percent, to $764.05 an ounce. Copper also edged lower, dropping 0.5 cents to $3.7375 a pound.

The price of oil rose above $97 per barrel Thursday, reversing Wednesday's small drop. Benchmark oil rose 30 cents to finish at $97.31 per barrel.

Wholesale gasoline for April rose 4.4 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $3.3164 a gallon.

In other energy trading, natural gas dropped 14.30 cents, or 4.3 percent, to $3.1630 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil for March rose 0.5 cents to $3.2237 a gallon.

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