By STEPHEN BERNARD

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Sugar contracts bounced off their lowest levels in nearly a year Monday, giving the market hope that prices might have bottomed after a two-month tumble.

Other commodities were mixed.

The price of May sugar rose 0.15 cents, or 0.9 percent, to settle at 16.54 cents per pound, having been as high as 17.37 cents earlier in the day.

Spencer Patton, founder and chief investment officer at the hedge fund Steel Vine Investments, said the rise in sugar prices was natural after a sharp drop for most of the year as reports came in that Brazil would produce a large harvest. He said investors began to buy back into the market at around 16 cents per pound.

Sugar hit a 29-year high in early February, with the May contract reaching 29 cents per pound. Even after Monday's gains, sugar is still down 42 percent from that peak. The price fell almost constantly since hitting that high, until reaching an 11-month low of 15.72 cents per pound last week.

The price for sugar had been climbing steadily for two years after crops were damaged by bad weather. Sugar plummeted after it became apparent that Brazil's crop this year would be strong.

Patton said sugar's decline may have gone too far. He believes sugar could rise 10 percent as buyers re-enter the market.

In other commodities trading, metal prices were mixed. Gold for June delivery rose 30 cents to settle at $1,162.20 an ounce.

May copper fell 2.55 cents to $3.5645 a pound. Silver for May delivery rose 6.3 cents to settle at $18.414 an ounce.

Energy prices mostly fell after starting the day higher. Investors had been pushing prices up recently on expectations for increased demand as the economy recovers and the busy summer driving season approaches.

Benchmark crude for May delivery fell 58 cents to settle at $84.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Heating oil fell 0.71 cent to $2.2189 a gallon, while gasoline rose 0.65 cent to $2.2958 a gallon. Natural gas fell 5.8 cents to $4.008 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Grain prices rose. July wheat rose 1.25 cents to $4.805 a bushel, while corn rose 2.25 cents to $3.595 a bushel.

Soybeans for May delivery rose 7.75 cents to $9.60 a bushel.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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