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Investors increased wagers on a commodity rally by the most in eight months as signs of a U.S. economic recovery bolstered the outlook for demand and drove rallies in crude oil, cotton, copper and gold. Hedge funds and other large speculators raised net-long positions across 18 U.S. futures and options in the week ended March 12 by 30 percent to 528,680 contracts, the biggest gain since July and up from a four-year low the previous week, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Money managers raised bullish bets on corn by 39 percent, cotton holdings were the highest since 2010, and gold wagers increased 9 percent. Open interest in commodities rose 2.8 percent in the first half of March, heading for a third monthly gain, and the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index of 24 raw materials erased its 2013 losses. U.S. retail sales climbed twice as much as forecast in February, the government said March 13. In the four weeks to March 9, the average number of Americans filing for jobless benefits fell to the lowest since March 2008. The U.S., the largest economy, is the top consumer of corn and oil and the second-biggest metals user. “People are accepting the fact that we have a growing economy, and there’s confirmation of that from the economic data,” said Sal Gilbertie, who helps manage $69 million of assets as president and chief investment officer of Teucrium Trading LLC in Santa Fe, New Mexico. “It gives people a reason to believe that there’s going to be sustained economic demand for base commodities.”

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