Wheat resumes rising as Ukraine weighs export limits; investors worry about Russian planting

By Tali Arbel, AP
Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wheat again rising as Ukraine weighs export limits

NEW YORK — Wheat prices resumed their rally Wednesday as the prospect of another country limiting exports fed into supply concerns.

Wheat prices hit a two-year high earlier this month because a severe drought in Russia has destroyed about one-fifth of the grain exporter’s harvest. Russia has suspended exports for the rest of the year because of damage from the weather.

Dryness in Ukraine and heavy rains in Canada has also hurt crops. Ukrainian officials on Wednesday delayed a decision on whether to limit grain exports from September to December because of dry weather hurting the harvest. A decision is expected Aug. 25, Barclays commodities analysts said.

The December contract gained 5 cents to settle at $6.8875 a bushel, its first advance after three days of losses. The September contract peaked earlier this month at $7.8575 a bushel, the highest price since August 2008, when Russia announced its intention to cut off exports. It has since drifted lower, but could approach the high if drought conditions prevent farmers from planting winter wheat.

“We expect a trend of shifting import demand to U.S. wheat exports in the absence of Black Sea exports,” Barclays said in a research note Tuesday, pointing to a recent shipment of U.S. wheat to Egypt. Egypt has typically gotten the bulk of its wheat from Russia.

Spring and summer wheat prices also rose as investors worried about whether Russian farmers would be able to plant winter wheat, said Jason Ward, an analyst with Northstar Commodity in Minneapolis. The planting season runs through the end of September, but if the drought doesn’t lift, the ground will be too parched to plant.

Ward said there was a forecast for more than an inch of rain this weekend in major grains growing regions. Less rain than expected would likely leave the ground too dry to plant, he said.

Other grains prices were mixed. Soybeans for November delivery fell 11.25 cents to $10.3075 a bushel, while December corn gained 3.25 cents to settle at $4.3325 a bushel.

Prices for metals and energy mostly retreated Wednesday.

September palladium fell $6.90 to settle at $490.40 an ounce and October platinum dropped $10.10 to $1,536.50 an ounce. December silver slid 19.8 cents to settle at $18.452 an ounce.

Copper for December delivery rose 1.2 cents to settle at $3.3705 a pound, however, and December gold ticked up $3.10 to settle at $1,231.40 an ounce.

Benchmark crude for October delivery fell 38 cents to $75.78 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Other October energy contracts barely budged. Heating oil fell 0.3 cent to $2.0484 a gallon, while gasoline was flat at $1.9070 a gallon. Natural gas dropped 1.7 cents to settle at $4.266 per 1,000 cubic feet.

will not be displayed