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Markets

Copper leaps above $9,000 a tonne for first time since 2011

  • Other base metals hit multi-year highs.
  • Copper up 16% so far this year.
  • Speculators raise net long position.
22 Feb 2021

LONDON: Copper prices shot above $9,000 a tonne for the first time since 2011 on Monday as premiums for quickly deliverable metal on the London Metal Exchange (LME) hit two-year highs, suggesting supplies are tight.

Other industrial metals also surged, with nickel trading above $20,000 a tonne for the first time since 2014.

Benchmark copper on the LME was up 1.4% at $9,033 a tonne in official trading after earlier touching $9,269.50.

Prices are up about 7% since China, the biggest consumer, returned on Thursday from its Lunar New Year holiday, taking gains to 16% this year after a 26% rise in 2020.

The failure to hold early highs suggests the rally might now hit the buffers, said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen.

He said technical indicators show copper is overbought and investors are cautious more broadly because they fear rapidly rising US bond yields could drag down equities prices.

"We've found some sellers at this price level," he said.

BULL RUN: Demand for copper, which is used in construction and power, is expected to outstrip supply in the coming years, many analysts say, fuelling rising prices.

POSITIONING: Speculators raised their net long position on the LME to 50% of open contracts by Thursday, the most since 2017, Marex Spectron brokers said.

MARKETS: Global equities fell on Monday while the dollar weakened slightly.

GERMANY: German business morale rose by far more than expected in February, a survey showed.

COPPER SPREAD: The premium for cash copper over the LME three-month contract rose as high as $49.50 a tonne, the most since March 2019, signalling a shortage of nearby metal.

OTHER METALS: LME nickel was up 0.7% at $19,722 a tonne after touching $20,110, its highest since September 2014. Aluminium gained 1.4% to $2,161.50, having hit its highest since October 2018 at $2,177.50.

Lead was flat at $2,164.50 after touching $2,183.50, its strongest since October 2019, while zinc rose 0.9% to $2,905.50 after peaking at $2,952.50, its highest since April 2019.

Tin was up 1.9% at $26,700 a tonne from its highest since August 2011 at $27,000.