Copper Prices Reach Record Highs, Increase Trend Stabilizes

Published on: May 22, 2024
Author: Amy Liu

On Tuesday (local time, May 21), three-month copper futures prices were slightly higher than the closing price on Monday (May 20), reaching a historic new high earlier that day. This peak follows months of steady increase driven by financial investors speculating on exacerbated supply shortages. The upward momentum of copper showed signs of cooling down a day after hitting the all-time high, with investors warning that the price surge might precede weakness in refined metal fundamentals.

Many physical traders have long cautioned that the price movement is diverging from underlying market conditions. Demand remains relatively lackluster, particularly from major consumer China, where inventory levels remain high, prompting copper wire and rod suppliers to cut production.

China’s economic struggles continue to be a focal point, with recent data indicating little improvement in the country’s real estate sector. Despite bullish outlooks from banks, miners, and investment funds on copper’s long-term prospects, prices stabilized on Tuesday (local time, May 21). Recent weeks have seen an influx of significant investments into the market, putting pressure on bearish traders who have taken a more cautious stance due to soft spot demand, notably from China.

Last week, a short squeeze in the New York futures market triggered a global rush to buy gold, accelerating the rise in gold prices.

As of 3:30 pm London local time, copper prices on the London Metal Exchange rose by 0.2% to $10,906.00 per metric ton. The premium between LME spot and three-month copper contracts widened to $115 per metric ton. Other base metals showed mixed movements, with tin declining and aluminum rising by 4.5% to $2,749.50 per metric ton.

After Rio Tinto announced a force majeure on alumina supplies from its refinery in Queensland, Australia, aluminum oxide futures in Shanghai surged by 7%.

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