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Ethanol Little Changed Amid Economic, Fuel Demand Concerns

Ethanol futures were little changed in Chicago on concern Ireland’s debt crisis will spread to Portugal and Spain and amid tensions between North Korea and South Korea.

The grain-based additive was steady ahead of a Nov. 28 plan to complete an Irish bailout. Separately, North Korea said planned U.S. and South Korea exercises will take the peninsula to the “brink of war.”

“Ethanol looks like it’s stuck in a lull, similar to corn,” said Jason Ward, an analyst at Northstar Commodity Investments in Minneapolis. “Right now there’s a lot of uncertainty and uncertainty just makes traders a little more cautious.”

Denatured ethanol for December delivery rose 0.3 cent to settle at $2.145 a gallon on the Chicago Board of Trade. Futures have gained 10 percent this year.

“Right now you have outside market issues,” Ward said. “It’s going to keep people closer to their money.”

In cash market trading ethanol was unchanged in New York at $2.255 a gallon, in Chicago at $2.16, in the U.S. Gulf at $2.275 and on the West Coast at $2.285, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Corn futures for March delivery fell 0.75 cent to close at $5.53 a bushel on the CBOT. One bushel of the grain distills into about 2.75 gallons of the ethanol.

An average ethanol mill in Iowa is pocketing 4 cents on every gallon produced while an Illinois plant is earning 9 cents a gallon on a spot basis, according to Ag Trader Talk, an online grains information service in Clive, Iowa.

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