Soybean prices edged higher on Thursday as U.S. export sales increased. Corn and wheat prices were down, while coffee futures fell sharply.
The actively traded March contract for soybeans rose 9.5 cents to $13.258 a bushel, an increase of 0.7 percent.
Higher U.S. export sales of soybean meal are helping lift prices. Part of the reason for the increase in exports is that farmers in Argentina, the No. 3 producer of soybeans, are hoarding stocks amid uncertainty over that nation's currency crisis, said Sterling Smith, a commodities analyst at Citigroup.
Wheat for March delivery fell 6.75 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $5.808 a bushel. Corn for the same month fell 0.25 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $4.43 a bushel.
March coffee futures sank 7.35 cents, or 5 percent, to $1.358 a pound.
Gold inched up 30 cents to $1,257.20 an ounce.
Silver for March rose 12.3 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $19.93 an ounce. Palladium for the same month climbed $3.25, or 0.5 percent, to $710.35 an ounce. Platinum for April fell $4.40, or 0.3 percent, to $1,374.90 an ounce.
Copper for March rose 4 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $3.23 a pound.
Despite Thursday's plunge, which Smith attributed to technical market factors, the overall trend for coffee prices is higher, he said. That's partly due to poor growing conditions in Brazil. Coffee futures are up 22 percent this year.
In energy trading, crude oil for March delivery rose 46 cents to close at $97.84 a barrel in New York.
Wholesale gasoline gained 4 cents to $2.68 a gallon and heating oil was flat at $3.00 a gallon.
Natural gas futures fell 10 cents to close at $4.93 per 1,000 cubic feet.