How Copper’s Outlook Has Polarized Analyst and Investor Sentiment, Grade 110 Falls

It is often claimed that copper prices are a reliable barometer of the global economy’s health. Analysts are sharply divided over copper’s outlook, the Wall Street Journal reports.

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As of Monday, copper’s spot price on the London Metal Exchange had fallen nearly 10% since the start of the year. Even so, the metal has staged a partial recovery from a five-year low reached on Jan. 29, rising 5.1% from that low to $5,672 a ton on Monday.

The whipsawing in prices has been mirrored in the shares of major copper producers. Chile-based Antofagasta’s stock fell 13% in January but has since recovered the lost ground. As of Friday, U.S. copper miner Freeport-McMoRan Inc. was down 8.9% since the end of last year, while Switzerland-based Glencore PLC, a big copper miner and trader, was off 2.2%, having hit its lowest point since its 2011 flotation in late January.

Copper’s gyrations have left analysts unusually polarized over where its price will go next.

On Monday, February 23, the day’s biggest mover was US copper producer grade 110 price, which saw a 0.9% decline to $3.33 per pound. Weakening prices followed two days of improvement as the price of US copper producer grade 122 dropped 0.9% to $3.33 per pound. The price of US copper producer grade 102 closed at $3.52 per pound. Following a couple days of improvement, the metal’s price weakened by 0.8%. The Japanese copper cash price remained essentially flat at JPY 711,000 ($5,971) per metric ton.

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Chinese copper prices were flat for the day. Chinese copper bar saw little change in its price yesterday at CNY 42,800 ($6,844) per metric ton. The Chinese copper cash price held steady around CNY 43,000 ($6,876) per metric ton. The price of Chinese copper wire held steady at CNY 41,880 ($6,697) per metric ton. The price of Chinese bright copper scrap saw essentially no change for the fifth day in a row, remaining around CNY 33,400 ($5,341) per metric ton.

Following a couple days of improvement, the copper 3-month price weakened by 0.3% on the LME. Prices closed at $5,692 per metric ton. The primary copper cash price changed direction with a 0.2% drop. After two days of improving prices, the metal finished at $5,707 per metric ton on the LME.

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