By SANDY SHORE

Associated Press

The price of soybeans is dropping as rainy weather offers some relief to crops that have been scorched by drought.

The rain has been scattered across the nation's heartland. More storms are expected later in the week.

While precipitation would normally help the crop in a typical year, the benefit this summer may be limited because soybeans were planted earlier than usual. That means the crops were at a critical growing stage during the hot, dry weather and may be past the period in which moisture can repair the damage.

About 38 percent of the nation's soybean crop was in poor-to-very-poor condition as of Sunday, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.

"The theory is that these rains are going to help the bean crop but ... even if we do stabilize it and we see a gradual improvement from the latest estimates, it's still not enough," Telvent DTN analyst John Sanow said Tuesday.

The demand for soybeans is expected to remain strong, particularly in exports to China. That could continue to erode stockpiles after the harvest, Sanow said.

Soybeans for November delivery fell 2.75 cents to finish at $15.98 per bushel. December corn dropped 3.25 cents to end at $7.89 per bushel. December wheat decreased 17.5 cents to $8.5825 per bushel.

Industrial metals rose after U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in July. Shoppers spent more on a wide variety of goods, including automobiles, electronics and building supplies. The results raised some expectations that the economy may be improving, which may strengthen demand for metals used in manufactured products.

Copper for September delivery rose 0.55 cent to end at $3.359 per pound, October platinum increased $6.30 to $1,399.10 per ounce and September palladium gained $3.70 to $578.40 per ounce.

December gold fell $10.20 to finish at $1,602.40 per ounce and September silver dropped 0.4 cent to $27.763 per ounce.

The positive economic news also benefited oil and other energy products. Benchmark oil increased 70 cents to $93.43 per barrel. Heating oil rose 1.63 cents to $3.0346 per gallon, wholesale gasoline gained 1.07 cents to $3.0014 per gallon and natural gas ended up 10.5 cents at $2.834 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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