NEW YORK (AP) -- Soybean prices topped $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 $13.025 per bushel. March wheat rose 11.5 cents to end at $6.5275 per bushel and corn ended up 4.5 cents at $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.
Oil prices remained close to nine-month highs because of concerns that Iran could cut shipments of crude to Europe and interfere with supplies elsewhere. The European Union and the U.S. are using sanctions against Iran because they fear the country is developing a nuclear weapon.
Benchmark oil fell $1.21 to finish at $108.56 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Heating oil declined 3.01 cents to $3.2829 per gallon, gasoline futures fell 2.2 cents to $3.3027 per gallon and natural gas prices fell 10.4 cents to end at $2.446 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold for April delivery fell $1.50 to finish at $1,774.90 an ounce.
In March contracts, silver rose 18.6 cents to $35.524 per ounce, copper rose 1.75 cents to $3.8805 per pound and palladium fell $5.45 to $705.30 per ounce. April platinum fell 80 cents to $1,714.30 an ounce.
Copyright 2012 The AP.