By SANDY SHORE
Coffee prices fell to their lowest level in 18 months Monday on expectations that Brazilian growers will produce a robust harvest.
Coffee fell 4.5 cents to end at $1.747 per pound Monday. That's the lowest level since Oct. 7, 2010, when the price was $1.7345 per pound.
Good weather during the growing season has triggered speculation that Brazil will produce large quantities of coffee when the harvest gets under way in June. That is expected to offset lower production in Colombia, which has had large amounts of rainfall.
At the same time, demand appears to remain strong globally. That's causing some confusion among traders and analysts about where the market is headed, said Jack Scoville, vice president of Price Futures Group.
Despite the falling futures prices, coffee drinkers aren't likely to see much change at the retail level because businesses still are paying more to produce and ship products, analysts have said.
In other trading, prices for corn and wheat fell after weekend rains scattered across fields from the Dakotas to southern Texas. Although it's early in the planting season, the rains should benefit crops in the field and moisten fields that are being readied for planting, said Northstar Commodity analyst Jason Ward said. Investors speculated that could improve yields at harvest time.
In May contracts, wheat dropped 7.25 cents to $6.1625 per bushel, corn decreased 6 cents to $6.2325 per bushel and soybeans ended down 16.75 cents at $14.20 per bushel.
Wet weather also may have played a factor in falling cotton prices, Scoville said. May cotton fell 4 cents, or 4.3 percent, to 88.08 cents per pound.
Other commodities were mixed after lingering concerns about Europe's debt problems overshadowed stronger-than-expected U.S. retail sales.
Spain's borrowing costs climbed above 6 percent rate mark before falling back to 5.96 percent later Monday. In the U.S., retail sales rose 0.8 percent in March, twice as much as analysts had expected.
Gold for June delivery fell $10.50 to finish at $1,649.70 an ounce and May silver dropped 1.7 cents to $31.373 an ounce, May copper rose 0.1 cent to $3.628 per pound, July platinum fell $12.10 to $1,575.80 an ounce and June palladium increased $3.50 to $650.70 an ounce.
Benchmark oil rose 10 cents to finish at $102.93 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Heating oil fell 5.8 cents to $3.1166 per gallon, gasoline futures decreased 7.91 cents to $3.267 per gallon and natural gas rose 3.5 cents to $2.016 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.