By STEVE ROTHWELLNEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Corn and soybeans advanced on reports that delays at Brazilian ports are holding up shipments. May corn rose 8.25 cents, or 1.2 percent, to close at $7.035 a bushel. Soybeans gained 12.75 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $14.5225 a bushel. "The talk is of the logistical backlog in Brazil," said Sal Gilbertie, chief investment officer of Teucrium Trading LLC. "Brazil has, for quite some time, needed to improve its loading facilities." Demand for South American crops surged after last year's drought pushed up prices in the U.S. Brazil may now be struggling to make deliveries to meet that demand. Brazil is poised to knock the U.S. from its historical position as the world's largest exporter of corn, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a report on its website this month. The South American nation has had successive bumper harvests of the crop and domestic demand has fallen, increasing the amount of the grain available for export. A drought in the U.S. reduced last year's crop making less available for exports. The U.S. share of the global export market has been gradually decreasing over the past three decades, according to the department's data. The U.S. share of the global export market for corn is projected to be 25 percent in the fiscal year ending in September, down from 84 percent in 1980. Demand for soybeans was also bolstered Thursday by a U.S. Department of Agriculture report that showed increasing demand for the crop from Chinese buyers, said Jason Ward, an analyst at Northstar Commodity. In other trading, wheat edged higher, advancing 2.5 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $7.1450 a bushel. Metals fell, with silver leading the declines. Silver for May delivery fell 55.30 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $28.43 an ounce. Palladium for June delivery dropped $11.10 an ounce, or 1.5 percent, to $734.55.
Gold for April delivery dropped $17.60 to $1,578.10 an ounce. The metal fell 4 percent in February, its biggest monthly decline in 10 months.The demand for gold as a defensive investment has waned this year on evidence that the U.S. economy is maintaining its recovery. Platinum for April delivery dropped $16.60 an ounce, or 1 percent, to $1,583.50. Copper for May delivery fell 1.95 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $3.5475 a pound. Benchmark crude for April delivery fell 71 cents to finish at $92.05 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline was up 0.05 cents to $3.11 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2.4 cents to $2.96 a gallon. Natural gas rose 5 cents to finish at $3.48 per 1,000 cubic feet.