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Dry weather pushes corn prices higher

The Associated Press

Corn prices jumped again Friday, driven higher by worries about hot, dry weather in the Midwest.

December contracts for corn jumped 8 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $7.4025 per bushel. That followed a 4 percent increase the day before, and is the highest price in about 11 months.

Corn crops are shrinking because of low rainfall levels in Western states, which is crimping supply and sending up the price. In a note to clients, Jack Scoville of the Price Futures Group predicted that analysts will continue to cut their predictions for crop yields.

"Demand has not been strong, and there have been reports that ethanol producers are shutting some plants as corn is hard to find and as prices are very (much) higher for what can be found," Scoville wrote.

The hot weather is also hurting soybean crops. November soybeans rose 23.5 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $15.525 per bushel. September wheat was basically flat, rising 1 penny to $8.4775 per bushel. That followed a gain of 20.5 cents the day before.

China said its economy grew as expected in the second quarter. China is the world's second-largest oil consumer behind the U.S., so it has a direct impact on oil prices, as well as copper and other industrial metals that are used for manufacturing and construction. Copper and oil both rose.

Building tension over the nuclear program in Iran, a major oil producer, also appeared to contribute to the increase in oil prices.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.02 to $87.10 per barrel in New York, while Brent crude increased 35 cents to $101.42 per barrel in London.

In other futures trading, heating oil rose 1.49 cents to $2.7882 per gallon and wholesale gas added a penny to $2.8161 per gallon. Natural gas was unchanged, ending at $2.874 per 1,000 cubic feet

Metals were also up.

September copper rose 8.9 cents to $3.504 per pound. October platinum rose $22.70 to $1,435.20 per ounce. September palladium rose $10.85 to $585.65 per ounce. September silver rose 20.8 cents to $27.369 per ounce. August gold rose $26.70 to $1,592 per ounce.