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Field of corn (Tim Boyle/2006 Getty Images)
Field of corn (Tim Boyle/2006 Getty Images)

Ag stocks grow like beanstalks Add to ...

The chief executive of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. may have been trying to help out existing shareholders with his statement on Thursday that the value of the company "far exceeds" $170 (U.S.) a share - or $40 a share more than what BHP Billiton Ltd. is offering. But his words don't compare to the impact of corn prices.

Agriculture stocks were strong on Friday, with big gains for not only Potash Corp., but also Agrium Inc. , CF Industries Holdings Inc. and Monsanto Co. Part of the reason: Corn futures jumped more than 6 per cent - the biggest one-day gain in more than three months - after the U.S. Department of Agriculture cut the size of its corn crop forecast. Higher corn prices mean more activity in the sector, which should drive demand for fertilizer products.

As well, Reuters reported that Rio Tinto Group was interested in the fertilizer industry, leading to speculation that another blue-chip mining firm might be scouting for acquisition targets.

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