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US Grain Futures Rise After Crop Damage

By The Associated Press

Agricultural commodities closed higher Wednesday after a cold snap in the southern U.S. damaged winter crops.

Wheat may be scarcer in the coming months because a hard freeze stretching from Tennessee to Texas killed some crops this week, analysts said.

"We did see some wheat damaged overnight," said Sterling Smith, who follows commodities as a vice president with Citibank Institutional Client Group. "The wheat was the spark that got things moving."

May wheat rose 5.25 cents to $7.3675 per bushel. Corn rose a nickel to $7.3525 per bushel. Soybeans added 6 cents to $14.5375 per bushel.

Trading has been relatively quiet this week ahead of a government report on grain stocks due out Thursday. The report will likely show corn supplies at a 15-year low, Smith said. Traders are bidding up grains because they expect demand to increase after the report is released.

Grain prices could fall Thursday if the report fails to meet traders' expectations for tight supplies, Smith said.

Energy commodities rose across the board on optimism about the U.S. economic recovery. Benchmark oil for May delivery rose 24 cents to close at a five-week high of $96.68 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil has gained $4.13, or 4.4 percent, in the last four sessions.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex: Wholesale gasoline rose less than a penny to $3.12 a gallon, heating oil rose 4 cents to $3.04 a gallon and natural gas advanced by 8 cents to $4.07 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Most metals closed higher. April gold rose $10.50 to $1,606.20 per ounce. April platinum rose $13.80 to $1,579.80 per ounce. June palladium added $6.90 to $768.30 per ounce. May copper gained a tenth of a cent to $3.4435 per pound.

Silver was the outlier. The May contract fell 6.7 cents to $28.612 per ounce.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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