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Markets

Copper jumps to 9-1/2 year high on inflation fears

  • Copper is about 6% below its record high of $10,190 a tonne hit in February 2011.
  • Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had climbed 1.2% to $9,417 a tonne.
25 Feb, 2021

LONDON: Copper prices surged to their highest in almost a decade on Thursday as investors scrambled to buy metals as a hedge against potential inflation from ongoing central bank stimulus.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had climbed 1.2% to $9,417 a tonne by 1605 GMT, after hitting its highest since August 2011 at $9,617.

Copper is about 6% below its record high of $10,190 a tonne hit in February 2011.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said on Wednesday it may take more than three years to reach the central bank's inflation goals, a sign the central bank plans to leave interest rates unchanged for a while.

Two members of the European Central Bank's board pledged on Thursday to keep borrowing costs low.

"In my view, what Powell said worried some investors, who believe that the central bank is underestimating inflation pressures as they continue to inject liquidity in the market," said Gianclaudio Torlizzi, partner at consultancy T-Commodity in Milan.

"Metals and other commodities have become a sort of safe haven in case inflation pressure gets out of control. And at the same time, supply issues are still very much present in the market."

In China, the most-traded April copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose by as much as 4.5% to 70,740 yuan ($10,964.04) a tonne, a level not seen since March 2011.

Prices were also higher because industrial consumers have low supplies.

"You have a consumer market caught short which results in cash buying...none better illustrated recently than in copper and to a lesser extent, aluminium," Alastair Munro at broker Marex Spectron said in a note.

LME aluminium gained 2.3% to $2,234 a tonne, its highest since October 2018.

LME tin rose 0.6% to $26,860 a tonne after touching its strongest since August 2011 at $27,500, nickel slid 2.6% to $19,190, zinc advanced 1.4% to $2,887, while lead rose 1.2% to $2,149.

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