The robust surge in copper prices in recent times might be a metaphorical lighthouse, guiding us towards brighter economic shores, even as ominous predictions of an impending recession persist.
The economic barometer that is copper has long held the reputation of a clairvoyant of sorts, providing a sneak peek into the state of the economy. Its ubiquity across diverse sectors of the economy makes copper’s price trends a useful pointer toward shifts in demand, hence giving us an insight into the pulse of economic activity.
Not too long ago, in early 2023, copper prices faced a daunting 17% plunge from their peak. Yet, it seems the humble metal has dusted itself off, bouncing back with a significant 12% leap from its May 25 nadir, reaching a remarkable $3.96 per pound recently.
Fairlead Strategies’ luminary, Katie Stockton, has her sights set on specific resistance targets should copper’s rally gain more traction. “An additional uptick would pave the way for positive intermediate-term development, indicative of a more promising economic landscape. Secondary resistance hovers around $4.20 to $4.30 per pound,” she commented in a recent note. A journey to these levels would imply a copper rally exceeding 20% from its end-May low.
Ryan Detrick, Carson Group’s top market strategist, wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at further upward momentum in copper prices. He has been beating the drum for sustained economic growth throughout the year. “Copper, the proverbial scholar of the global economy, showcases strength contrary to the prevailing anxieties,” Detrick shared. “With the housing market finding its footing and robust consumer spending, we believe the economy could sidestep a recession in 2023. Copper’s recent rally might be another indicator supporting this lone stance.”
However, we should note that rising copper prices don’t always equate to an uptick in demand for the commodity; other elements could influence them. According to Fundstrat’s Tom Lee, the recent copper rally could be tied to end-of-quarter positioning dynamics. Meanwhile, Steve Sosnick from Interactive Brokers points to dwindling copper supplies as a possible cause.
Sosnick observes that copper futures are experiencing a higher-than-usual backwardation. “As prices rose over the last month, front month futures outpaced back months, indicating potential short-term relative scarcity driving up prices,” Sosnick opined.
He further suggests that recent interest rate cuts in China could have a more profound impact on copper prices, rather than overarching economic strength, “especially since other essential commodities, like oil, aren’t exactly signaling economic vigor.”
Whether the copper price surge is riding the wave of economic robustness or simply reacting to dwindling supplies, the sustainability of this rally will be the key determinant. It’s an exciting space to watch for all savvy investors and economic enthusiasts, and one that could provide valuable insights into our economic future.