Wheat extends gains on dry weather worries

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Wheat rose to its highest level in more than a year on concern that unseasonably dry weather in the Southern Plains of the U.S. will harm the crop.

The price of wheat for delivery in July rose 10 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $7.39 a bushel Tuesday. Wheat is at its highest level since March last year after closing higher 10 times in the last 11 days.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its weekly crop progress report Monday that the condition of winter wheat was either "poor" or "very poor" in 39 percent of the major wheat-growing states. That's higher than the 34 percent reading of a week earlier and suggests that the weather is starting to damage the crop.

Wheat prices have jumped 30 percent in the last three month as the Southern Plains region has been hit with dry weather at a critical time of development for the crop, and on concern that the conflict in Ukraine may hurt production there. Ukraine and Russia are major wheat producers.

Any rain that falls in the Southern Plains regions may now come too late to bolster the crop, said Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics.

"It really kind of too late for the rains now," said Zuzolo.

Corn rose 9.5 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $5.18 a bushel. Soybeans fell 3.75 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $14.59 a bushel.

Most metals rose.

Silver for July climbed 7.4 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $19.65 an ounce. Copper for July rose 0.3 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $3.06 a pound. Platinum for July delivery rose $9.70, or 0.7 percent, to $1,458.10 an ounce. Palladium for June gained $1.90, or 0.2 percent, to $818.40 an ounce.

Gold fell 70 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $1,308.60 an ounce.

In energy trading, oil was little changed at $99.50 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline fell 2.3 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $2.89 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1.9 cents to $2.89 a gallon. Natural gas gained 1.1 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $4.80 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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