Wheat prices surged to their highest level in more than a year Wednesday as concern grows about production in Russia.
Wheat for September delivery jumped 20.50 cents, or 3.5 percent, at $6.155 a bushel Wednesday afternoon. Prices haven't been that high since June 2009.
Hot, dry weather in Russia's primary wheat producing region has raised concerns about how much the country will harvest this year, said Richard Feltes, senior vice president and director of commodity research for MF Global in Chicago. Feltes said production estimates keep getting cut because temperatures are regularly eclipsing 100 degrees.
The unfavorable weather could end up making Russia an importer of wheat this year, a stark turnaround from a year ago. Russia and other former Soviet republics like Kazakhstan accounted for 20 percent of the world's wheat exports last year, Feltes said, so a drastic change in their production severely cuts into global supply.
Worries about a lack of supply are rippling through the market and pulling corn and bean prices higher as well. A drop in wheat production, particularly for animal feed, would force farmers to switch to corn or beans for feed, which helps their prices.
September corn contracts jumped 13.5 cents to settle at $3.7625 a bushel, while soybeans for November delivery rose 12.5 cents to $9.7800 a bushel.
Energy and metal prices were mixed throughout the day. Gold for December delivery rose 60 cents to settle at $1,162.40 an ounce. It had steadily fallen in recent days because of shrinking concerns about the strength of the euro and European financial institutions.
Silver for September delivery dipped 18.5 cents to settle at $17.441 an ounce, while September copper rose 3.9 cents to $3.2455 a pound.
Benchmark crude oil for September delivery fell 51 cents to $76.99 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Natural gas rose 9.9 cents to settle at $4.774 per 1,000 cubic feet. In other Nymex trading heating oil fell 0.3 cent to settle at $1.9964 a gallon and gasoline dropped 0.02 cent to settle at $2.0634 a gallon.
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