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Apr 17, 4:17 PM EDT

Coffee surges on renewed concern about crop


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The price of coffee surged on Thursday on renewed concerns about the outlook for Brazil's crop.

Coffee for July delivery jumped 15.25 cents, or 8.1 percent, to $2.04 per pound.

The price of coffee beans has risen about 85 percent this year on concerns that dry weather in Brazil will damage the harvest there. Brazil is the world's largest coffee producer, accounting for about a third of global production, according to the International Coffee Organization.

The catalyst for the move higher on Thursday was a crop inspection report from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based coffee importer, Wolthers Douque. The report predicted that 35 percent of the coffee crop would be lost in the South Minas region of Brazil due to unfavorable weather.

Big price swings for coffee may become the norm in coming months, said Sterling Smith, a commodities analyst at Citigroup.

"We're going to be seeing this happen frequently until we get a better idea of how much damage was done to the crop," Smith said. Coffee in Brazil isn't harvested until June.

In other trading of agricultural products, wheat edged higher while corn and soybeans fell.

Wheat for July rose 3.8 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $6.99 a bushel. Corn for the same month fell 3 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $5 a bushel and soybeans fell 6.5 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $15.02 a bushel.

Metals were mixed. Gold, silver and platinum fell. Copper and palladium rose.

Gold for June fell $9.60, or 0.7 percent, to $1,293.90 an ounce. Silver for May dropped 3.8 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $19.60 an ounce. July platinum dropped $9.10, or 0.6 percent, to $1,428.70 an ounce.

Copper for May rose 2 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $3.05 a pound. Palladium for June climbed $4.80, or 0.6 percent, to $807.10 an ounce.

In energy trading, May crude rose 54 cents to $104.30 a barrel.

The price of natural gas surged after the Energy Department reported that U.S. storage levels rose less than analysts had expected. Natural gas for May delivery rose 21.1 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $4.74 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to close at $3.06 a gallon. Heating oil was little changed at $3 a gallon.

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