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Commodities and shares

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Weather and hopes for economic revival have conspired to send agricultural commodities off to a brisk start to the week, with wheat leading the charge.

May wheat stood £2.10 higher at £111.50 in lunchtime trade in London, and up E2.75 at E139.75 in Paris, with July and November contracts also making ground.

In Chicago, wheat for May delivery was 8.5 cents higher at $5.72 per bushel, taking gains this month to 7.4%.

The increase reflected renewed concerns for the US wheat crop after forecasters predicted a cold snap for parts of the US Plains hard red winter wheat region, which has already been afflicted by drought. Wheat prices in Kansas, the biggest centre for trading hard red winter varieties, added 9.25 cents to $6.27 a bushel.

Soy also got off to a flying start, helped by hopes for US exports, which data last week showed had enjoyed a promising first quarter. Chicago soy for May was 11 cents up at 10.06 1/2 a bushel.

Fears are also growing for South America's soy crop after drought in Brazil and Argentina. Paraguay, the world's fourth largest exporter, on Friday estimated its 2008-09 crop had fallen 40% year on year.

May corn added 1.5 cents to $4.06 a bushel.

Traders said the across-the-board gains also reflected hopes that last week's G20 summit may deal a blow to global recession. Prices of oil and many metals also rose, with gold, favoured in times of economic difficulty, losing ground.

By Mike Verdin

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