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Drop In Supply Pushes Up Corn Prices

By The Associated Press

Corn prices jumped Friday after a government report showed that farmers harvested less corn last year than anticipated, largely the result of a long-running drought.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's final 2012 crop report revealed that farmers produced a harvest of 10.78 billion bushels of corn last year. That's 27 percent less than the agency's first estimate. The country's stockpile of corn, used as food for cattle and other farm animals, dropped to 8.03 billion bushels as of Dec. 1.

Corn prices shot up immediately after the report came out. Corn for March delivery rose 1.4 percent, or 10 cents, to settle at $7.0875 a bushel. Corn ended the week up 4 percent.

"The report was bullish for corn prices," said Sterling Smith, a commodities strategist at Citigroup. "We're still seeing the after-effects of the drought."

Concerns about the drought also helped push up wheat prices. Wheat for March delivery increased 1.4 percent, or 10.25 cents, to $7.5475. Soybeans fell 6.5 cents to $13.7325 a bushel.

A report of higher inflation in China helped push other commodity prices down Friday. China's official statistics bureau said inflation hit a six-month high in December. Rising prices could hamper the government's efforts to support the world's second-largest economy. Central banks usually curb inflation by raising interest rates, which makes lending more expensive and slows down spending.

Metal prices tumbled, with gold, silver and copper dropping 1 percent or more. Gold for February delivery sank $17.40 to $1,660.60 an ounce.

Other metal prices sank, too:

â¿¿ Silver for March delivery fell 51 cents to $30.4080.

â¿¿ Platinum for April fell $3.10 to $1,631.20.

â¿¿ Copper for March delivery fell 5.5 cents to $3.6540 a pound.

â¿¿ Palladium for March dropped 75 cents to $701.45 an ounce.

In energy trading, benchmark oil dropped 26 cents to finish at $93.56 a barrel in New York. Other prices were mixed:

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