Investment Demand Takes Over Copper Market


". . .the level of price increases seen in 2009 is not justified by the pick-up in demand."

The price of copper has jumped over 70% since the beginning of 2009 but, there is still uncertainty as to where it is going next.

According to analysis by Numis Securities, while "it is tempting to infer this price strength as suggestive of an improvement in underlying demand," especially considering there is strong demand for copper from China, demand from Western nations is still reeling from the economic downturn has been, and looks likely to remain, weak for the near future.

Numis analysts, say, "We believe some of the recent increase in prices is due to increased investment demand—especially since Q2'09—and a return of risk appetite in the investment community. Underlying this is the fact is that most base metal prices have risen in line with equities—suggesting that much of the price strength is due to increased confidence."

This is also the view of copper specialist analysts Bloomsbury Minerals Economics, whose Chris Welch told Mineweb that the level of price increases seen in 2009 is not justified by the pick-up in demand.

"Chinese imports have increased but Western demand has slowed. We see it as a case of people investing in the metal on the back of the pick-up in Chinese demand rather than just on demand supply fundamentals."

So where to from here?

Welch, maintains that prices should go down because of the current fundamental situation but, he believes this is unlikely as there has been a lot of bear squeezing recently.

Numis holds a similar view, "We believe that in Q3 the rally is likely to idle as Chinese base metals imports look likely slow over the quarter. Stock levels are already stagnating. However, barring additional systemic shocks to the global capital markets, we believe that base metal prices are unlikely to collapse back to the Q1 trough levels—currently investment demand appears to be maintaining a floor of US$2/lb copper whatever the stock level, and in the last 10 days copper stock levels have been increasing marginally and cancelled warrants have declined whilst the price has continued to increase."

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