By STEVE ROTHWELLNEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Wheat prices advanced on concern that dry weather conditions in the plains region will harm this year's crop. The grain recorded its biggest weekly advance since last year's drought. The price of wheat has been recovering this week following a sell-off that began in early December. This year's crop in the U.S. may be hurt by a lack of rain in the Great Plains region and dry weather in Australia, where it is now summer, may also damage the harvest there. "There's a continued dry situation in the southern plains that's not going away, so our winter wheat crop is being threatened," said Darin Newsom, a senior analyst at DTN. "As we start off the year, the first one up to bat is Australia and their crop could be suffering a bit from the heat." Wheat for March delivery rose 10 cents to $7.9125 a bushel Friday. The grain has risen 5 percent this week, its biggest weekly advance since July. In other grains trading, corn edged higher the March contract rising 3 cents to $7.275 a bushel. The grain has advanced nine out the last 10 days. Soybeans for March delivery rose 1 cent to $14.2925 a bushel. In energy trading, oil remained at a four-month high after new data showed China's economy rebounded and the International Energy Agency predicted higher global demand. Benchmark oil for February delivery rose 7 cents to finish at $95.56 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest since Sept. 17, when crude was above $96 a barrel. March gasoline rose 2.88 cents to $2.8113 a gallon. Heating oil for March delivery gained 2.74 cents to $3.0419 a gallon and natural gas ended up 7.2 cents at $3.566 per 1,000 cubic feet. Trading in metals was mixed. March silver gained 12 cents to $32.932 an ounce, and copper also gained, rising 1.7 cents to $3.6790 a pound.
Gold for February delivery fell $3.80 to $1,687 an ounce. Platinum for April dropped $26.50 to $1,674 an ounce. March palladium fell $3.40 to $722.75.