The Associated Press

Orange juice futures fell Wednesday as fears of crop damage eased after freezing weather hit Florida this week.

March contracts for frozen orange juice concentrate sank 4.05 cents to settle at $1.56 a pound. The price has fallen about 3 percent this week but is up 4.6 percent for the month.

There were scattered reports of damage after temperatures dipped below freezing in Florida, but some regions fared better than others, said Andrew Meadows of Florida Citrus Mutual, a growers' cooperative association.

Spencer Patton, founder and chief investment officer for hedge fund Steel Vine Investments LLC, said he expects the market to remain volatile during the winter. He noted that it only takes a few hours of below-freezing temperatures to cause crop damage.

The bulk of Florida's crop is used for frozen orange juice concentrate.

In other trading, oil prices rose after the Energy Department said commercial crude supplies fell by 9.9 million barrels to 346 million barrels for the week ending Dec. 10, which was due in part to a decline in crude imports.

Benchmark oil for January delivery added 34 cents to settle at $88.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other Nymex trading in January contracts, heating oil added 1.56 cents to settle at $2.4835 a gallon, gasoline gained 1.28 cents to $2.3092 a gallon and natural gas slipped 3.3 cents to $4.222 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Metals all settled lower. Gold for February delivery fell $18.10 to settle at $1,386.20 an ounce.

In contracts for March delivery, silver dropped 53.5 cents to settle at $29.253 an ounce, copper fell 7.5 cents to $4.1265 a pound and palladium gave up $15.55 to $752.65 an ounce. January platinum lost $9.50 to settle at $1,704.40 an ounce.

Meanwhile, March wheat added 1.5 cents to settle at $7.6475 a bushel; March corn dipped 3 cents to $5.8425 a bushel and January soybeans edged up 0.5 cent to $12.965 a bushel.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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