Corn prices head higher as harvest gets under way

AP News
Posted: Aug 20, 2012 4:00 PM
Corn prices head higher as harvest gets under way

The price of corn rose Monday after the start of the harvest renewed expectations of a smaller crop yield because of drought damage.

Corn for December delivery rose 16.5 cents, or 2 percent, to finish Monday at $8.2375 per bushel. That's the highest level since Aug. 9.

The summer's heat has devastated fields across a swath of the Midwest. Northstar Commodity analyst Jason Ward, who has toured fields in several states, predicted the yield will be "a little worse than we've got figured."

"I think the general theme in the market is that nobody really knows what the yields are yet," Ward said. "As we get into more of it (the harvest), it needs to get better or those national yields on corn will come down."

The Agriculture Department estimated this month that farmers will average 123.4 bushels of corn per acre, which would be the lowest in 17 years.

Soybeans have benefited from a recent spell of cooler, wet weather, but prices rose Monday because of speculation that export demand will remain strong. Ward noted that sales of beans on the books for next year are near a record already.

Soybeans for November delivery rose 37.75 cents, or 2.3 percent, to end at $16.835 per bushel. December wheat gained 8.25 cents to $9.0275 per bushel.

In other trading, platinum prices rose for a third day as South African workers remained off the job at a platinum mine northwest of Johannesburg after last week's deadly violence. The Lonmin PLC mine said it has resumed some operations with about 30 percent of its work force.

October platinum finished up $25.10 to $1,498.20 per ounce. The price has increased about $100 since the strike began Aug. 10.

Gold for December delivery rose $3.60 to finish at $1,623 per ounce, December silver gained 59.1 cents to $28.678 per ounce, September copper fell 4.85 cents to end at $3.371 per pound, and September palladium increased $2.60 to $607.70 per ounce.

In energy contracts, benchmark oil fell 4 cents to end at $95.97 per barrel, heating oil rose 0.05 cent to $3.0931 per gallon, gasoline gained 0.33 cent to $3.0308 per gallon, and natural gas ended up 5.7 cents at $2.776 per 1,000 cubic feet.