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Markets

Copper hits eight-year peak as bullish factors dominate

  • Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) traded 1.6% up at $8,274 a tonne in official rings.
  • The idea that US stimulus is going to lead to higher inflation has taken hold this week.
Published February 10, 2021

LONDON: Copper prices scaled eight-year highs on Wednesday as rising inflation expectations, a falling dollar, historically low stocks and progress in the battle against the coronavirus spurred fresh buying.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) traded 1.6% up at $8,274 a tonne in official rings. Prices of the industrial metal earlier touched $8,302.50, a gain of nearly 90% since March and the highest since February 2013.

"The idea that US stimulus is going to lead to higher inflation has taken hold this week, which is a positive for copper and other commodities used as a hedge against inflation," said Tom Mulqueen, analyst at Amalgamated Metal Trading.

"New coronavirus cases are starting to come down and the dollar is lower."

UNITED STATES: President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan is expected to boost economic growth and fuel inflation at a faster pace than previously expected.

DOLLAR: A lower US currency makes dollar-denominated commodities cheaper for holders of other currencies, which could boost metals demand.

VIRUS: The rollout of vaccines in many countries and slowing infection rates have raised hopes of an end to lockdowns, albeit at a slow pace.

INVENTORIES: Copper stocks in LME-registered warehouses stand at 74,675 tonnes, close to last September's 15-year trough.

Low stocks have fuelled concern about availability on the LME market, creating a premium for cash copper over the three-month contract. The premium was last at about $10 a tonne.

CHINA: Metals markets are watching the direction of monetary policy in China, which accounts for about half of global consumption of industrial metals.

"China policy tapering and winding down of supercharged stimulus measures is a key market risk in 2021," said Amalgamated Metal Trading's Mulqueen.

NICKEL: Concern over nickel shortages pushed prices as high as $18,545 a tonne, its strongest since September 2019, before paring gains to trade 0.9% up at $18,534.

OTHER METALS: Aluminium was up 0.9% at $2,073 a tonne, zinc gained 1% to $2,722, lead rose 0.8% to $2,094.5 and tin was up 0.2% at $23,240.

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