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Copper price keeps soaring as bullish sentiment prevails

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Copper prices continued to soar on Friday, surpassing the nine-year peak seen during the previous session, as bullish sentiment towards base metals resumed after the Chinese New Year.

Copper March futures jumped to as high as $4.0910 a pound ($9,019.16 a tonne) in New York, its highest since September 2011.

The industrial metal is on its way for a third straight weekly gain, having gone up by nearly 15% year-to-date and 7.3% over the past week alone.

Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices.

While copper’s ascent may be an indicator of higher demand, some market analysts believe it may have been squeezed on the supply side too.

Citigroup analysts have pinned the global copper deficit at about 500,000 tonnes starting this year

“You have to remember that commodities like copper are built by both the supply and the demand story. The supply story in copper actually is part of the problem here,” Gina Sanchez, CEO of Chantico Global and chief market strategist at Lido Advisors, told CNBC in an interview.

Sanchez said reduced production in Peru, which services demand in top consumer China, may have driven copper prices higher.

Citigroup analysts have pinned the global copper deficit at about 500,000 tonnes starting this year, according to Bloomberg.

Inventories of copper in warehouse registered with the LME are near 2005 lows at 75,700 tonnes, keeping the premium for cash copper over the three-month contract elevated.

The rally in copper prices has also sent the valuations of the metal’s producers higher. Shares of top producers including BHP, First Quantum Minerals and Southern Copper Corp have all seen double-digit gains YTD (12.8%, 15.4% and 17.5% respectively).

The stock price of Freeport-McMoRan has gone up so much that Barrick Gold, which has been rumored to be interested in a merger of equals, has said it will move on to other opportunities.

Other industrial metals

Copper is not the only industrial that has seen monumental gains in 2021.

Nickel has surged 17.3% YTD to 7-year highs as automakers continue to ramp up EV production in response to changing consumer demands, while battery composition continues to change favoring nickel-dense chemistries.

Tin, used in personal electronics and electric vehicles, has rocketed 24% YTD to a decade high, with global mine supply is squeezed due to coronavirus restrictions.

(With files from Reuters)