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Wheat price rises on worsening crop conditions

Steve Rothwell, AP Markets Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Wheat prices rose Tuesday after crop conditions deteriorated as unseasonably cold weather in April began to take its toll.

July wheat rose 14.5 cents, or 2 percent, to $7.31 a bushel. The grain has advanced 6.3 percent this month.

The United States Department of Agriculture's Crop Progress report, published late Monday, showed conditions deteriorated in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas following freezing temperatures in April.

"We've been concerned by some extraordinarily cold morning temperatures," said Todd Hultman, a grains analyst at DTN. "This report just added confirmation that people are expecting damage from those conditions."

Wheat is rebounding after dropping to the lowest price in more than eight months April 1. Winter snowstorms earlier in the year brought moisture to the Plains and improved the outlook for this year's crop. Expectations of bumper crops from big wheat exporters like India and Australia also pushed prices lower.

Corn fell. That followed a surge Monday on concern that the wet, cold weather in the Plains region will delay planting and reduce harvests. Corn for July fell 9.75 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $6.50 a bushel. Corn is down 6.5 percent this month.

Soybean futures fell 9.75 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $13.90 a bushel.

Most metals were little changed.

Gold for June delivery edged up $4.70, or 0.3 percent, to $1,472.10 an ounce. Silver for delivery in July rose 1.9 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $24.185 an ounce. July platinum was unchanged at $1,507.20 an ounce. June palladium dropped $1.4, or 0.2 percent, to $697.80.

Copper logged the biggest decline, dropping 3.9 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $3.1875 a pound.

In energy trading, the price of oil fell 1.1 percent on anticipation of another increase in U.S. crude supplies.

Benchmark oil for June delivery fell $1.04 to finish at $93.46 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil finished the month of April with a loss of almost 4 percent, although it did climb back from a low of $86.68 on April 17.

Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $2.80 a gallon. Heating oil fell 3 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $2.84. Natural gas fell 5 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $4.343 per 1,000 cubic feet.