Copper Hits Record High of $11K: What’s Driving the Surge?

Azeez Mustapha


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Copper has soared to its highest level ever, extending a robust, months-long rally driven by financial investors anticipating significant supply shortages.

Futures on the London Metal Exchange surged over 4% in early Monday trading, pushing copper past $11,000 a ton for the first time. The market is buoyed by numerous optimistic forecasts, with BHP Group Ltd. eyeing a purchase of rival Anglo American Plc primarily for its copper mines.

Several 2024 developments have bolstered copper bulls, attracting increasing speculative investments.

Tight copper ore supply has spurred talk of smelter output cuts, while a short squeeze in the New York futures market this month ignited a global rush to secure the metal.

“This has taken prices to another level, and it’s very difficult to call a top in this environment,” Craig Lang, principal analyst at CRU Group, said from Singapore. “Commodities markets do tend to overshoot.”
Copper Hits Record High of $11K: What's Driving the Surge?For years, investors, traders, and mining executives have warned of a critical copper shortfall amid soaring demand from green industries, including electric vehicles and renewable infrastructure.

Jeff Currie, a seasoned commodities expert and chief strategy officer at Carlyle Group Inc., recently called copper the best long trade he’s ever seen.By 12:04 p.m. Shanghai time on Monday, LME copper had risen 3% to $10,992.50 a ton.

Prices have increased by over 25% since the start of the year, leading a broader rally in major industrial metals. Gold has also hit a record high alongside copper, with both metals buoyed by optimism that the US Federal Reserve will begin cutting interest rates this year.

However, many in the physical trade warn that copper prices are outpacing reality. Demand remains relatively weak, particularly in top buyer China, where inventory levels are still high.

Metal Diversion
A string of setbacks occurring at major mines is sparking concerns that an eagerly anticipated decrease in production will happen sooner than previously thought. Smelter treatment fees, which serve as an indicator of tightness in the ore market, plummeted below zero in April.

Additionally, a short squeeze on the Comex exchange in New York pushed prices there to an unprecedented premium over the LME, prompting a rush to redirect metal supplies to the US, resulting in reduced metal availability elsewhere.

According to Gong Ming, an analyst with Jinrui Futures Co., “The Comex short squeeze is diverting copper to the US and tightening supplies in other regions. The Chinese market is expected to witness inventory withdrawals soon, accompanied by rising exports.”

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Azeez Mustapha

Azeez Mustapha is a trading professional, currency analyst, signals strategist, and funds manager with over ten years of experience within the financial field. As a blogger and finance author, he helps investors understand complex financial concepts, improve their investing skills, and learn how to manage their money.

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