COMMODITIES-Soy, corn extend highs; oil down but up on week
* Soybeans, corn hit new record highs on unrelenting drought
* Oil, metals end down as focus turn back on Spain, Europe
* CRB rises for 3rd straight week; up 7 pct so far for July
By Barani Krishnan
NEW YORK, July 20 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean and corn prices extended their record highs o n F riday from the crop damage in America's drought-baked heartland, while oil and copper markets fell on renewed worries about European debt.
The retreat in energy and metals prices did not prevent the commodities complex from posting a fourth straight week of gains.
The Thomson Reuters CRB index, a global commodities benchmark, settled up 3.6 percent for the week, after closing slightly lower for the session. The 19-commodity index has risen 7 percent so far for July, heading for its strongest month since October 2011.
Soybeans and corn posted their biggest five-week gain since late 2009 as relentless heat wilted crops in the U.S. Midwest.
"Everything today is focused on the weather for soybeans," said Karl Setzer, analyst at MaxYield Cooperative in West Bend, Iowa. "Historically, August is when the soy yield is determined, but because everything is early this year, we are seeing the buying interest show up earlier."
Soybeans for August delivery ended up 23-3/4 cents at $17.57-1/2 per bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, after hitting a record peak at $17.77-3/4.
Rain this week provided little relief from the most extensive U.S. drought in 56 years, said Don Keeney, meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather.
That added to the worry of investors and traders as some 16 percent of the soy crop was setting pods at the beginning of the week, nearly double the average pace for this time of year, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.
Hotter-than-normal temperatures were expected for at least another two months in most of the contiguous 48 U.S. states, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said, which did not rule out the drought continuing past October.
Corn for September delivery jumped to a record high of $8.28-3/4 per bushel on the CBOT before settling at $8.24-1/2, a gain of 16-3/4 cents.
The new-crop December contract gained 17-1/4 cents to $7.95-3/4. The contract has risen more than 50 percent over four weeks.
Although the rally in corn was not yet building into a food crisis, like in 2008, the price surge was still worrying as corn is used in more edible products than soy, said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist and grain expert at the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.
EUROPE COOLS ENERGY, METALS MARKETS
Oil prices snapped a seven-day rally as players in energy markets turned their focus back to the euro zone debt crisis.
U.S. and European equities slid and the euro weakened broadly after Spain's heavily indebted Valencia region called for aid, increasing fears that the Spanish government was moving toward a full-blown bailout.
The U.S. dollar's rebound also raised the cost of commodities for users of other currencies. The euro plunged to more than two-year lows against the dollar as Spain's 10-year bond yields extended their rise above 7 percent, a level deemed unsustainable.
"The dollar spiking higher versus the euro on Spain banks needing help pushed oil lower," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital, an energy hedge fund in New York.
Kilduff said oil was also weighed down by comments from a Russian official in France that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad was negotiating an orderly exit of power due to the rebellion in his country. "Looks like if he goes, we will get a selloff."
Syria's Information Ministry said the comments made about its president by Russia's ambassador to France were "completely devoid of truth."
Fighting raged in Syria as government troops battled rebels at border posts and in corpse-strewn streets in Damascus after a fourth member of Assad's inner circle died from wounds sustained in a bomb attack this week.
U.S. crude's front-month contract settled down $1.22 at $91.44 a barrel. For the week, it rose nearly 5 percent.
London's benchmark Brent crude finished at $106.83, down 1 percent on the day and up 4.3 percent on the week.
Copper prices fell by their most in a month.
London Metal Exchange's three-month copper contract shed $190, or 2.5 percent, to end at $7,545 per tonne.
It was the contract's deepest one-day fall since June 21, when it lost 2.7 percent of its value. It also marked a sharp reversal from Thursday, when copper rallied to a two-week high of $7,813. For the week, copper fell 2 percent, nearly wiping out all of last week's gain.
"After seeming to have broken free from the influence of euro zone and currency issues in recent days, it seems that link between the metals and euro chaos has been temporarily re-established this morning," analyst Walter de Wet of Standard Bank said in a note.
Prices at 5:25 p.m. EDT (2125 GMT)
LAST/ NET PCT YTD
CLOSE CHG CHG CHG US crude 91.56 -1.22 -1.3% -7.4% Brent crude 106.74 -1.06 -1.0% -0.6% Natural gas 3.081 0.082 2.7% 3.1% US gold 1583.90 2.40 0.2% 1.1% Gold 1582.73 1.44 0.1% 1.2% US Copper 344.80 -8.65 -2.4% 0.3%
Dollar 83.500 0.617 0.7% 4.1% CRB 304.570 -0.400 -0.1% -0.2% US corn 781.25 10.75 1.4% 20.8% US soybeans 1686.25 34.00 2.1% 40.7% US wheat 925.00 11.50 1.3% 41.7% US Coffee 186.95 -2.00 -1.1% -18.1% US Cocoa 2229.00 -1.00 0.0% 5.7% US Sugar 23.29 0.09 0.4% 0.3% US silver 27.302 0.085 0.3% -2.2% US platinum 1413.50 -8.60 -0.6% 0.6% US palladium 576.10 -8.75 -1.5% -12.2% (Additional reporting by Sam Nelson and Michael Hirtzer in Chicago; Robert Gibbons in New York and Susan Thomas in London; editing by Jim Marshall)
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