Hedge funds increased wagers on rising commodity prices

Hedge funds increased wagers on rising commodity prices to the most in two months and the rally in raw materials accelerated as the Federal Reserve pledged to keep borrowing costs low for three more years.

Money managers raised combined bullish positions across 18 U.S. futures and options by 13 percent to 742,902 contracts in the week ended Jan. 24, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. The so-called net-long position in copper jumped 53 percent to the highest since August and in silver by 22 percent to the most since September. Speculators also expanded bullish bets in sugar, soybeans, cotton, gold, gasoline and crude oil.

Fed policy makers said Jan. 25 they will keep their target interest rate for overnight loans between banks near zero at least until late 2014 and didn’t rule out buying more bonds. The Fed first pushed rates to a record low in December 2008 and has since purchased $2.3 trillion of debt in two rounds of so-called quantitative easing that ended in June 2011. During that period, commodities rose more than 80 percent. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index of 24 raw materials jumped 2.2 percent last week, after a 0.1 percent gain a week earlier, as the dollar depreciated to a seven-week low.

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