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U.S. ethanol prices at 18-month highs raise expectations of rising output

The rise in U.S. ethanol prices, which hit their highest in 18 months on Thursday, could be about to lose steam as the move draws more production back into the market and potentially puts off buyers, traders and experts said.

Cash prices have been following futures prices for ethanol, corn and gasoline higher. Midwest prices of the biofuel are at their highest in just over a year, helping to lift margins for producers like Archer Daniels Midland Co and Green Plains Inc after one of their toughest quarters in years.

But some said the higher prices could curb demand, particularly in export markets, or draw in imports of the fuel from other countries.

New export "business isn't getting booked at these prices," said a U.S. ethanol trader who requested...