Wheat plunges on Russia's grain exports plan

AP News
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Posted: Mar 19, 2012 4:33 PM
Wheat plunges on Russia's grain exports plan

Wheat prices plunged nearly 3 percent Monday after Russia said it will not limit grain exports this year. The decision could increase competition for U.S. wheat in the world marketplace.

Russia had been one of the leading exporters of wheat and other grains until 2010 when it banned exports after a drought caused significant crop damage. Wheat prices skyrocketed that summer because of concerns about global supplies.

The ban was lifted last May, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday that there will be no limits on grain exports this year. His deputy, top agriculture official Viktor Zubkov, predicted that this year's exports might reach 27 million tons. That compares with 21.4 million tons exported in 2009.

Investors have been expecting U.S. wheat to be in greater demand because it's the cheapest in the world. In addition, there has been speculation that some crops in Europe were damaged by a cold winter.

Wheat for May delivery fell 19.75 cents to end at $6.5225 per bushel. May corn fell 9.5 cents to end at $6.635 per bushel and soybeans ended down 7.5 cents at $13.665 per bushel.

In other trading, copper prices rose after the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo said Monday that builders are more confident about improving sales over the next six months.

Copper is used in a variety of construction products, from pipes to wiring, as well as for other manufacturing uses. The metal's price for May delivery rose 3.1 cents to end at $3.909 per pound. April platinum rose $9.20 to finish at $1,684.70 per ounce, June palladium increased $5.90 to $707.60 per ounce.

April gold rose $11.50 to end at $1,667.30 an ounce and May silver ended up 35.1 cents at $32.955 per ounce.

Oil prices rose as investors grew more confident that the global economy was getting stronger. Benchmark crude ended up $1.03 at $108.09 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Heating oil fell 2.06 cents to end at $3.2613 per gallon, gasoline futures increased 1.09 cents to $3.3678 per gallon and natural gas rose 2.5 cents to $2.351 per 1,000 cubic feet.