Copper price poised for best month since April 2021

Copper cathodes. Image by Glencore.

The copper price is poised for its biggest monthly advance since April 2021, as investors bet China may shift away from covid-zero policies, which would boost demand.

Copper for delivery in March rose 3.6% on the Comex market in New York, touching $3.76 per pound or $8,274 per tonne. 

[Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices]

The metal, used in construction and power, touched a near five-month peak of $8,600 a tonne earlier this month but retreated largely due to fears that rising covid cases in China may curb growth and, therefore, metals demand.

China is pushing for greater vaccination of the elderly, driving speculation about a further easing of covid-zero rules.  

Further aiding bullish sentiment, the country on Friday announced a plan to reduce reserve requirements at banks to boost money supply. This week, authorities relaxed rules on developers selling shares, adding to measures aimed at ramping up liquidity in the real-estate sector. 

Still, China’s covid situation, coupled with the domestic stimulus and tight physical supplies, will increase volatility in copper prices, Chaos Ternary Research Institute said in a note on Wednesday.

FocusEconomics, a Barcelona-based independent research company, says demand for copper and industrial metals should stay fairly limp during the first half of next year “as global interest rates peak and China’s economy likely stays weighed down by the property crash and covid-19.”

The consensus forecast for average copper prices in 2023 is below current levels at around $7,660 per tonne, according to FocusEconomics with the lowest prediction at just $5,430 per tonne and the top end at an uninspiring $8,775 per tonne. 

 (With files from Reuters and Bloomberg)