NEW YORK (AP) _ Soybean prices fell sharply Friday as forecasts of more wet weather in the U.S. corn belt raised expectations that farmers may have to switch acres over to soybeans, a trend that would ease supply concerns.
Other commodities traded mixed, with crude oil rising more than $3 and rice futures retreating from a record.
Cold, wet weather in corn-growing U.S. states has slowed spring planting, prompting some farmers to consider planting soybeans instead.
"The wet weather that's in the forecast has people nervous about soybeans because if the corn doesn't get planted, the acres are going to go to beans," said Jason Ward, analyst with Northstar Commodity in Minneapolis.
Soybeans for May delivery dropped 16.25 cents to $13.325 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, after earlier falling as low as $13.285.
Also weighing on soybean prices was news that Argentina's economy minister had resigned following a bitter 21-day farm strike called to protest a 44-percent export tax on soybeans and other products.
The prospect of a smaller U.S. corn crop boosted corn futures Friday, with the May contract gaining 5.75 cents to $5.82.
Other agriculture commodities traded lower, with U.S. rice futures easing from a record after Brazil and Thailand said they wouldn't impose export restrictions.
Rough rice for July delivery fell 9 cents to $24.23 per 100 pounds on the CBOT, a day after rising to a contract high of $25.70.
Meanwhile, wheat futures for May delivery lost 4.25 cents to $8.05 a bushel on the CBOT.
In energy markets, Oil prices shot up Friday after a ship under contract to the U.S. Defense Department fired warning shots at two boats in the Persian Gulf. Initial reports were that the boats were Iranian, although their origin was later unclear; the news was enough to raise concerns that a conflict between U.S. and Iran could cut oil supplies from the region.
Light, sweet crude for June delivery rose to $119.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after the news before falling to $119.08, still up $3.02.
Other energy futures also rose. May gasoline futures rose 3.90 cents to $3.0576 a gallon after earlier rising to a new trading record of $3.0815, while May heating oil futures added 5 cents to $3.3083 a gallon.
The jump in crude oil boosted gold futures, which rose for the first time in two sessions as investors bought the metal as an inflation hedge.
Gold for June delivery added 90 cents to $890.30 an ounce on the Nymex, after earlier rising as high as $899.
Other precious metals also traded higher. Silver for May delivery rose 21 cents to $16.87 an ounce, while May copper gained 3.9 cents to $3.914.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.