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Soybeans climb on rising global demand expectations

NEW YORK--Soybean prices topped US$13 a bushel for the first time in five months Monday as estimates of smaller South American harvests raised expectations that U.S. exports will be in greater demand.

Global stockpiles of the protein-rich beans already are in short supply. Investors are speculating that U.S. supplies will be tapped to make up for a shortfall in harvests hit by hot, dry weather in Brazil and Argentina.

Telvent DTN analyst John Sanow said he is seeing weekly estimates for harvested crops in both countries that are well below the most recent U.S. Agriculture Department forecast.

USDA predicted this month that Brazil's production would total 72 million tons, down 2 million tons, and Argentina's production was estimated at 48 million tons, down 2.5 million tons.

Higher soybean prices this year could make a difference in what crop farmers decide to plant this spring, Sanow said. The agriculture department is scheduled to release its estimate of what farmers plan to plant next month.

Soybeans for March delivery rose 15.75 cents to finish at US$13.025 per bushel. March wheat rose 11.5 cents to end at US$6.5275 per bushel and corn ended up 4.5 cents at US$6.4850 per bushel.

Metals and energy contracts were mostly lower as investors took profits after many prices posted gains last week. Kingsview Financial analyst Matt Zeman said many investors are keeping an eye on the dispute over Iranian oil and awaiting economic reports due this week that should offer more clarity on economic growth.

Gold for April delivery fell US$1.50 to finish at US$1,774.90 an ounce.

In March contracts, silver rose 18.6 cents to US$35.524 per ounce, copper rose 1.75 cents to US$3.8805 per pound and palladium fell US$5.45 to US$705.30 per ounce. April platinum fell 80 cents to US$1,714.30 an ounce.

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