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Soybeans gain on South American weather concern

The Associated Press

Soybeans futures rose on concern that warmer, drier weather in South America may damage the crop there.

Traders are also speculating that Brazil may struggle to meet demand for its exports in February, meaning that buyers may be forced to turn elsewhere to source their soybeans, said Tom Fritz, of the EFG Group, a commodities brokerage in Chicago. Bets on strong export demand for U.S. soybeans are also bolstering prices, he said. The U.S. department of agriculture will publish its weekly export sales report Thursday at 8:30 a.m. EST.

"There's a little bit of a weather threat developing down in south-eastern Brazil, Argentina," said EFG Group's Fritz. "It's turned rather warm and dry for the next five to 10 days."

The price of oil jumped above $94 a barrel Wednesday after imports unexpectedly fell, crimping supplies. Benchmark oil rose 92 cents to $94.20 a barrel at midday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gasoline supplies also grew less than expected as refineries slowed output. That helped push the price of March gasoline up 1.24 cents to $2.7385 a gallon.

In other energy trading, February heating oil fell 1.22 cents to $2.9991 cents a gallon. Natural gas fell 2 cents to end at $3.4350 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Trading in metals was mixed.

Gold for February delivery was little changed, falling 70 cents to $1,683.20 an ounce. Silver for March delivery was also little changed, climbing 1.3 cents to $31.5420 an ounce.

March copper fell 3.1 cents to $3.6065 per pound. Platinum for April delivery rose $4.20 to $1.694.10 an ounce. Palladium gained $13.10 to $726.45 an ounce.