Wheat Tops $12 a Bushel for First Time By STEVENSON JACOBS â 1 day ago NEW YORK (AP) â Wheat futures vaulted above $12 a bushel for the first time Tuesday as investors bet that a shortage of high-quality milling wheat will keep prices high for the grain used in bread, pasta and other foods. Other commodities traded mostly higher, with crude oil surpassing $100 a barrel and silver hitting its highest level since 1980. Wheat prices have surged 34 percent since the start of year, pushed higher by growing world demand, tight supplies and bad weather that has pummeled crops in Canada, Argentina and India. U.S. exporters are selling wheat a record pace to meet demand, rapidly depleting stockpiles. The Department of Agriculture expects U.S. wheat inventories will total 272 million bushels by the end of May â the lowest level in more than five decades. "Everybody is coming to the realization that the shortage of wheat is not going away," said Elaine Kub, a commodities market analyst at DTN. "There's no relief coming from anywhere in the world until June," when the U.S. wheat harvest begins. Wheat for May delivery jumped the 90-cent daily trading limit to settle at $12.145 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, the highest ever. Other agriculture futures traded mixed. Soybeans for May delivery added 15 cents to settle at $14.8425 a bushel on the CBOT, while March corn declined 2.75 cents to settle at $5.305 a bushel. Unprecedented demand for agricultural products from fast-growing countries including China and India has exacerbated the supply crunch for wheat, which has more than doubled in price since last year. The higher wheat prices may not immediately affect U.S. consumers since big food companies like Kellogg Co., General Mills Inc., and Kraft Foods Inc. typically protect themselves from price volatility with long-term supply contracts. But analysts say some consumers are already feeling the pinch â from smaller cereal boxes to having to ask for bread at restaurants â and should expect higher prices to eventually work their way into the grocery aisle. Also affecting the cost of food is the high price of crude, which surged back above $100 Tuesday as investors ignored reports of more U.S. economic turmoil and bet that oil will extend its advance. Prices had eased overnight as traders anticipated a government report due out Wednesday that is expected to show U.S. crude stocks rose for the seventh week in a row. But oil has risen over the past week amid an increase in speculative buying fed by expectations of a spike in demand. Light, sweet crude for April delivery jumped $1.65 to settle at $100.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, crude hit a new trading record of $101.15 a barrel. Other energy futures also rose. March gasoline futures inched 0.86 cent higher to settle at $2.5505 a gallon on the Nymex, while March heating oil gained 2.97 cents to settle at $2.8150 a gallon. Meanwhile, precious metals prices advanced broadly Tuesday, with silver hitting a 28-year high after the dollar weakened against the euro. Silver for March delivery added 63.5 cents to settle at $18.720 an ounce on the Nymex. In aftermarket trading, the metal later hit a new record of $18.865 an ounce. Other metals also rose. Gold for April delivery gained $8.40 to settle at $948.90 an ounce on the Nymex, while March copper added 3.95 cents to settle at $3.7790 a pound.