ST. LOUIS (AP) ¿ Shares of ethanol producers rose in Monday afternoon trading as oil prices hit a new high for the year after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. economy is recovering, which could increase demand for gasoline.

Ethanol producers were battered over the last year as prices collapsed because of over production and a drop in demand for fuel.

Agribusiness giant ADM is one of the young ethanol industry's biggest players, with new ethanol refineries throughout the Midwest. Shares rose 74 cents, or 3 percent, to $28.71. Chairman and CEO Patricia Woertz told investors earlier this month that ethanol profit margins are improving after months of over production.

Hurting ethanol companies is an increasing amount of supply and falling crude oil prices. A barrel of crude dropped 15 cents to $60.40 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after earlier dipping as low as $59.52. Falling crude prices makes alternative fuel less attractive to customers.

Among other ethanol producers, MGP Ingredients Inc. rose 2 cents, or nearly 1 percent, to $4.02. Pacific Ethanol rose 4 cents, or 10 percent, to 39 cents.
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