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Copper prices topped $10,000 per ton for the 1st time since 2011

London—The price of a ton of copper exceeded $10,000 on Thursday for the first time since February 2011 thanks to strong demand in China and the weak dollar.

The industrial metal used in electronics and construction is called Dr Copper by many analysts as its performance is good at diagnosing the general health of the economy.

Its price has risen by more than a quarter since the start of the year as the global economy begins to shake off the COVID-19 pandemic.

A ton of copper was fetching $9,963 around 1315 GMT on the London Metal Exchange after slipping off its session high, having threatened to push past its February 15, 2011 high of $10,190 per ton.

Last March, the price bottomed out at $4,371 a ton as the pandemic dealt a massive blow to the world economy.

Since then it has shot above its pre-crisis level.

Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann said that higher prices still could follow as copper would play a major role in countries’ long-term decarbonization strategies.

For Anna Stablum, analyst with Marex Spectron, the dollar-denominated metal is primarily being “supported by the weakness of the dollar.”

The greenback slid 2.5 percent against a basket of currencies in April, as buyers with other rising currencies against the greenback go on a spree.

Neil Wilson of Markets.com saw the rising price as being the result of a rise in demand, notably from China which swallows more than half of world production, and also supply problems from top global supplier Chile.

Chinese declared demand is estimated to have risen 13 percent last year alone, according to the intergovernmental International Copper Study Group (ICSG).

That trend is likely to continue with Beijing having earlier this month announced a record 18.3 percent jump in first quarter economic growth.

Chilean supply, meanwhile, continues to be hampered by days of protests by workers at major ports and the country’s copper  mines over pension policy.

The price spike comes in the context of reduced investment on the supply side of the mining industry since the “boom” years of 2003-2013—and the subsequent lack of new expansion plans of existing mines.

At the same time, demand for copper wiring is soaring, notably as the auto industry increasingly switches to making electric vehicles.

Other metals have also seen impressive rises, not least aluminum, which is up 20 percent on its early January level. It has nearly returned to the $2,500 level it was closing in on in April 2018, whereas 12 months ago it was struggling to clear $1,500.

Steelmaking ingredient iron ore meanwhile hit a new record this week on the S&P Platts index in surpassing the $193 per ton set in the commodity boom of ten years ago. 

Topics: copper , price , Dr Copper , London Metal Exchange , COVID-19 pandemic
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