By SANDY SHORE
AP Business Writer
The price of corn jumped 4 percent Thursday as crops continue to shrivel in a relentless heat wave across much of the country.
December corn futures rose 28.25 cents to end at $7.3225 per bushel. That's the highest price since August.
About 30 percent of the crop is in poor to very poor condition, compared with just 9 percent in that shape a year ago.
The outlook isn't encouraging, either. The chance of precipitation is below normal for some Midwestern states over the next several days, according to an Accuweather.com forecast. Analysts have said that the corn crop could sustain additional damage without significant moisture in the near future.
The U.S. Agriculture Department predicted Wednesday that this year's harvest would be 12 percent smaller than it had forecast in June because of damage to crops from the persistently hot, dry weather.
Corn supplies, both in the U.S. and globally, were tight heading into this season, so the prospect of small stockpiles after the harvest has driven up corn prices nearly 33 percent since June 1. Those higher prices are weighing on the stocks of companies that rely on corn for their products, such as meat and food producers.
Soybeans, which are in a critical part of the growing cycle this month, also have been hurt by the hot weather. Soybeans for November delivery rose 6.5 cents to end at $15.29 per bushel and September wheat gained 20.5 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $8.4675 per bushel.
Other commodities were mixed as traders worried about the prospect for demand in the slowing global economy after more disappointing news from Europe. Spain's borrowing costs rose again, indicating that investors consider the country's debt risky.
New economic data is expected from China on Friday which should provide more insight into its slowdown.
Most metals fell.
August gold dropped $10.40 to end at $1,565.30 an ounce, September copper decreased 3.35 cents to $3.4150 per pound, October platinum fell $19.10 to $1,412.50 an ounce and September palladium ended down $8.15 at $574.80 per ounce. September silver rose 13.8 cents to finish at $27.1610 per ounce.
In energy trading, oil prices rose on concerns about violence escalating in the Persian Gulf after the Obama administration imposed more sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program The U.S. and other Western nations believe Iran is building a weapon. Iran denies it.
Benchmark oil rose 27 cents to end at $86.08 per barrel in New York. Heating oil increased 1.15 cents to $2.7733 per gallon, wholesale gasoline gained 3.73 cents to $2.8062 per gallon and natural gas ended up 2.1 cents at $2.874 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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