Copper price surges as supply worries return

Let’s down tools. Image: Codelco via Flickr

The price of copper surged on Tuesday after a strike at one of the largest copper mines in the world and optimism about a ceasefire in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

In afternoon trading in New York, copper for delivery in July touched a high of $2.7125 a pound ($5,980 a tonne), up 2.5% from Monday’s settlement. Copper is now trading back in positive territory for 2019 although the bellwether metal has lost 18.7% of its value measure from highs hit in June last year.

Chile’s state owned copper giant Codelco said on Monday that its Chuquicamata mine had maintained output at 50% of capacity as it faced its fourth full day of a union strike. The mine produced just under 321kt tonnes of copper in 2018, representing around 5.5% of Chilean annual output.

Sentiment was also buoyed after US president Donald Trump promised an “extended meeting” with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 meeting taking place in Japan next week.

Trump tweeted that he had “a very good telephone conversation,” with Xi and that the countries’ trade negotiating teams “will begin talks prior to [the] meeting”.

According to a recent World Bank report, the value of global trade for 2019 has been revised down a full percentage point, to 2.6% — slightly below the pace observed during the 2015-16 trade slowdown and the weakest since the global financial crisis.  

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