Copper price: Don’t expect any 2017 fireworks

In early trade on Tuesday copper for delivery in December held onto six-month highs with copper futures exchanging hands for $2.3085 per pound in New York and topping $5,000 a tonne in London dealings for the first time since end-April.

Copper has risen during 11 of the last 12 trading sessions, adding nearly 11% in two weeks. While other industrial metals and steelmaking raw materials have jumped in value this year, the bellwether metal has advanced a more modest 8% this year.

The copper price hit six year lows in January following a 26% decline in 2015, the fourth year in a row of price erosion.

While the price of copper appears to have found a floor above $2.00 a pound a new note by BMI Research, a Fitch company, says that any gains going into 2017 would be modest.

Copper will remain an underperformer among base metals, as the market remains comparatively well-supplied and warehouse and exchange stocks despite recent declines remain relatively high, according to the report.

BMI expects copper prices to break out of an increasingly narrow trading range by 2017, supported by additional Chinese fiscal stimulus in the form of public construction sector support and the acceleration of public-private partnership infrastructure projects.

An investment boom in new capacity this decade has seen several large projects come on stream this year, but BMI forecasts global refined copper market balance to tighten substantially in 2017, to a surplus of 107,000 compared to an estimated surplus of 294,000 this year.

BMI forecasts copper prices to average only slightly higher next year at $4,900 per tonne in 2017, compared to $4,730 so far this year.