RPT-US floods boost gasoline prices, hit rice planting

Tue May 10, 2011 9:32pm GMT

(Repeats to clarify gasoline in headline. No changes to text)

* Mississippi River crests at near-record 48 ft in Memphis

* Floods wash out 3 mln acres cropland, hits rice hard

* Gasoline prices jump on fears refiners in path

By Karl Plume and John Branston

CHICAGO/MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 10 (Reuters) - Rising floodwaters on the Mississippi River have displaced thousands of residents and flooded 3 million acres of farmland as it surges past Memphis to the U.S. Gulf Coast, where it threatens to disrupt 10 oil refineries in Louisiana.

Gasoline prices RBc1 jumped by more than 2 percent in New York on Tuesday as traders speculated that the massive flooding from heavy spring rains and snow melt could disrupt refineries on southern stretches of the Mississippi in the next two weeks.

The refineries threatened by the flooding account for 14 percent of U.S. refined gasoline capacity. Pump prices in the United States already have topped $4 a gallon in many states, stretching consumer budgets.

The floods threatened to postpone or cancel planting of rice on 300,000 acres in Arkansas, amounting to 10 percent of the total rice acreage in the United States, the world's third-largest exporter of the grain.   Continued...

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