Is this a serious rebound in copper prices? Hmm… we still doubt it.
The monthly Copper MMI® registered a value of 77 in May, an increase of 2.7% from 75 in April.
Not a Demand-Based Surge
Copper prices have surged so far this year but prices are still well below what they were just a year ago.
Demand coming from China is still weak. We believe that traders likely won’t get evidence of a meaningful uptick in demand as Chinese demand remains weak and not likely to make a significant comeback in the medium term. Therefore, demand alone has little chances of supporting prices through the balance of the year.
Supply Side? Nope
On the supply side, there have been some constraints in Chile (the largest copper producing nation) because of climate and labor problems. On the other hand, major copper miners are cutting costs. This helps miners keep producing even while copper prices fall, as major input costs like crude oil declined. Just this year, the industry’s total costs on average fell 6%. The industry seems well-supplied and at this point, we don’t see warnings in the supply side with the potential to dramatically change the direction of prices.
What IS Causing the Rally?
With this said, two things seem to be causing the recent copper’s rally:
- Traders buying the dips and those covering short sales after copper prices fell sharply in previous months.
- The dollar is finally taking a breath after rallying for nine straight months. This is helping support metal prices this year. We are seeing that in oil prices as well, which are more stable since February.
What This Means For Metal Buyers
Copper’s rally could be just a dead cat bounce. Copper’s fundamentals remain rather bearish. The only thing that could make copper prices turn around is a falling US dollar and a recovery of commodity markets. That is definitely a possibility but it’s still too early to call for that.
It was a strong month for the price of US copper producer grade 110. The metal posted a 4.0% increase, finishing at $3.60 per pound. The price of Korean copper strip jumped 3.9% last month to $8.31 per kilogram. The price of US copper producer grade 102 reached $3.79 per pound after a 3.8% increase. Following a 3.3% upswing on the LME, the copper 3-month price closed the month at $6,218 per metric ton. The primary copper cash price closed the month at $6,245 per metric ton after gaining 3.2% on the LME. At $7,160 per metric ton, the price of Chinese copper wire increased 2.3%. After a 2.0% increase, the Chinese copper cash price finished the month at $7,318 per metric ton.
Japanese primary cash copper prices fell 1.7% to $6,236 per metric ton after rising the previous month.
Chinese bright copper scrap experienced a flat month, staying around $5,384 per metric ton.
The Copper MMI® collects and weights 12 global copper metal price points to provide a unique view into copper price trends over a 30-day period. For more information on the Copper MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.