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Commodities up most in six months on Europe optimism

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jumped the most in almost six months on that may be contained after leaders agreed to ease repayment rules for emergency loans to and relax conditions on possible help for Italy.

The Standard & Poor's of 24 raw materials rose as much as 2.6 per cent to 582.39 points, the biggest intraday gain since January 3, before trading at 581.84 at 12.15 pm in London. Crude oil jumped as much as 3.9 per cent in New York and copper rose 2.7 per cent in London. The gain in the index trimmed its quarterly loss to 15.5 per cent, still the worst since the final three months of 2008.

After 12 hours of talks that ended at 4.30 am in Brussels on Friday, leaders of the 17 euro countries dropped the requirement that governments get preferred creditor status on crisis loans to Spain's blighted banks, European Union President said. Banks can also be recapitalised directly with funds rather than going through governments, he said.

"Investor sentiment improved on news from the EU summit and many commodity prices rebounded," Anton Zakharov, a commodity analyst at OAO Promsvyazbank in Moscow, said on Friday by e-mail. "Comments by Chinese monetary policy makers on possible further rate reductions also gave them support."

European leaders discussed ways to reduce the risk premiums on Italian and Spanish bonds, which have driven concern by economists, investors and Europe's global partners including the US that the currency union risks coming apart.

Quarterly slump
The commodities gauge plunged 44 per cent in the final quarter of 2008 when the bursting of the US real-estate bubble and collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc pitched the world into a recession. Raw materials entered a bear-market last week as Europe's crisis escalated and concern mounted that the US recovery was faltering.

Losses in the quarter have been led by cotton, crude oil and gasoline, with the decline in the S&P GSCI exceeding the 7.6 per cent fall in the MSCI All-Country World Index of equities. Raw materials have also been hurt by signs of slower growth in China, the world's largest user of base metals.

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