COMMODITIES: Costly Rains

If current activity on the Chicago Board of Trade, the world's largest commodity exchange, is a reliable indicator of future food prices, housewives might have to spend more at the grocery store next year for such basic items as bread, flour and meat. Grain dealers and agribusiness giants such as Ralston Purina and Quaker Oats sell and buy future contracts on the exchange—and each transaction really amounts to a bet on what commodities will actually sell for in one to nine months. Since November, the 124-year-old exchange's volume record and many of...

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