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French Wheat Woes Lift Futures; Corn and Soybeans Gain

CHICAGO--Wheat futures closed at their highest level in eight days following deeper concern over the health of European crops. Corn and soybean contracts also climbed.

Positive signals from foreign-based buyers and speculation that asset managers could curtail bets on lower grain prices also helped lift Chicago-listed wheat contracts, though traders were mixed on the rally's potential longevity.

Wheat futures at the Chicago Board of Trade settled 3.2% higher, rising 12 3/4 cents to $4.16 a bushel, the contract's biggest one-day gain since early June. The September-dated contracts, which had sunk by about 8% from their mid-July peak, remain 11.5% lower so far this year.

Fueling the wheat rally was a report from France'sFarm Ag Ministry that reduced estimates for the country's soft wheat crop by about one-fifth, confirming troubles that many traders had suspected in one of Europe's key wheat-growing nations. That would mark a 30-year low for French wheat yields, analysts said, and similar difficulties are anticipated to...