CHICAGO: The global rally in commodities has seen some like copper and iron ore probe record highs, but when it comes to the companies producing natural resources the gains in their share prices have been largely lagging and uneven.
Benchmark London copper futures came within a whisker of their all-time high on Wednesday, reaching $10,040 a tonne, just shy of the record $10,190 hit in February 2011.
Copper has gained 28.1% since the end of last year and is up 114.9% from its 2020 low, hit in March of that year amid the global economic fallout as countries locked down their populations and halted travel in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Spot iron ore for delivery to north China, as assessed by commodity price reporting agency Argus, reached $193.50 a tonne on April 28, narrowly beating its previous record of $193.00, also reached a decade earlier.
The spot price has gained 16.7% from the end of the year to Wednesday’s close of $186.60 a tonne, and is 134.4% higher than the 2020 low of $79.60, reached in late March.
Other commodities, especially metals such as tin and aluminium, have also performed strongly this year.
Much of the rally has been built on China’s seemingly insatiable demand, with the world’s second-largest economy having boosted stimulus spending on commodity-intensive infrastructure and construction projects in order to recover from the pandemic. But while prices for metals have been robust, the share prices of major producers have not quite matched the stellar gains of the commodities they produce.
Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian miner that is currently the world’s biggest iron ore miner and a major producer of copper, should be the standout beneficiary of the current rally in metals.
Certainly, its Australian-listed stock has performed well, rising 10.4% since the end of last year and 72.7% since the 2020 low in March in local currency terms.