Multiple Factors Driving Copper's Resurgence
This time last year copper was in serious trouble - it had just hit its lowest level since 2009. What followed was a period of consolidation until the US presidential election in November, when prices lifted to 18-month highs on the back of Donald Trump's victory - and bullishness about the impact of his $500b infrastructure plans. It's recent price performance reflects a combination of positive factors - apart from the Trump Effect. LME inventories are falling and COMEX open interest has hit all-time highs. There's also the issue of grade declines and supply uncertainty, with disruptions affecting production at some of the world’s major copper mines at Freeport in Indonesia, Escondida in Chile and Cerro Verde in Peru - accounting for 10% of global supply. The Chilean Copper Commission has upwardly revised its forecast for global copper demand growth in 2017 from 1.9% to 2.6%. It also expects US demand growth of 2.5% after contracting by 1.9% last year, offsetting slower growth in China of 3% in 2017. It forecasts market deficits for copper during 2017 and also 2018.
Gavin has been a senior resources analyst following the mining and energy sectors for the past 25 years, working with Intersuisse and Fat Prophets. He is also the Executive Director, Mining & Metals with Independent Investment Research (IIR).