Copper’s Bellwether status points to strong economic activity
- Copper prices have risen 26 per cent in 2020
- Chinese demand has driven the price of the industrial metal
- As a result, IGO is up 9.8 per cent in the first hour of trade
Often coined the bellwether of the economy due to its many applications in the world we live, copper in recent months has surged past 8,000 per tonne on the London Metals Exchange. Overnight the industrial metal rose 1.5 per cent on the 6th of January 2021, signaling traders around the world are confident in COVID-19 recovery in 2021. Copper often follows an outlook on future economic activity and has done so throughout 2020. Earlier in 2020 the price of copper collapsed from 6,000 to 5,000 per tonne but quickly predicted a COVID-19 recovery and has remained on a steady march north since March 2020. Copper ended the year 26 per cent higher at $7,766.
Copper is used in a wide range of electrical equipment including motors, wiring because of its chemical properties which allow it to conduct heat highly efficiently. It also has a range of applications in roofing, plumping and industrial machinery. The industrial metal taps into many parts of everyday life and most sectors of the economy and is hence used as a leading indicator of economic health. Therefore, rising copper prices reflect demand and activity in the real economy.
Despite concerns over rising COVID-19 cases across the world, inefficiencies in vaccine rollouts, severe lockdowns in the UK and Civil unrest in the United States, Copper prices have surged in the first week of 2021. The rally is likely fuelled by significant demand from China in their infrastructure-led recovery plan. It is clear to see that across many commodities including Iron Ore, that Chinese demand has elevated prices in 2020 and continues to support them moving forward.
Scrap copper is also an important influence on the commodities price. Increased scrap copper flows in recent months have increased supply and China has loosely accepted these scrap shipments. Copper scrap flows currently make up one-third of global demand according to Bloomberg. There have also been supply-side concerns to the copper supply in Chile and Peru, where COVID-19 restrictions may impact production levels moving forward. Despite this, a Goldman Sach’s report reiterated via an analyst, how, “current price strength is not an irrational aberration, rather we view it as the first leg of a structural bull market.”
On our local market, those involved in the mining on Copper has performed exceptionally. As of the 7th of January 2021, at 11 am, IGO (ASX: IGO) is trading 8.81 per higher. IGO is a diversified mining and exploration company involved in gold, nickel, copper, and zinc. The company’s exposure to nickel and copper, in particular, have assisted their share price since December. Moving forward the metals price look's to remain strong while Chinese demand remains and exposure to a growing electric vehicle market also remains a positive for the metal.
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