Commodities update: Shanghai copper nears two-and-a-half year high
Copper soared to a fresh two-year high on Friday, bolstered by promising news on coronavirus vaccines that could halt impending lockdowns and hasten economic recovery.
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE said they plan to file for emergency use on Friday, allowing for the vaccine which is 95 per cent effective to be used in the U.S. in the next month. The advance comes as the rampaging virus prompts governments to impose further restrictions to stem the spread, posing a threat to global growth.
Copper, considered an economic barometer, is heading for an eighth straight monthly gain, the longest run in almost a decade, as rebounding growth in China and signs of progress in developing a COVID-19 drug buoy demand prospects. Investors are also betting on a boost from spending on green infrastructure following the five-year plan hammered out by China, as well as alternative-energy initiatives outlined by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.
“Positive news for the metals is compounding and copper is gaining momentum,” RJO Futures senior market strategist Peter Mooses said by phone. “Base metals have been driven by bullish news all around, and a vaccine is just what the market is looking for: a long-term solution to fears for further disruptions to a global recovery.”
As coronavirus infections surge worldwide, fears of further near-term disruptions to supply are also fueling gains. At a copper mine in Chile, workers at Lundin Mining Corp.’s Candelaria pushed a strike into a second month, as operations remained at a standstill.
“As we see cases increase, we have to expect that further restrictions are not far behind,” ED&F Man Capital analyst Edward Meir said by phone. “The spreading virus could be raising fears that mining operations will again be halted, fueling this supply premium.”
Copper and other metals are also benefiting from moves to restart U.S. stimulus talks and the increasing certainty of a transition to a new administration in the White House. Materials including metals are heading for a prolonged bull market driven by structural changes including a shift to more commodity-intensive economic growth, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a note earlier this week.
Copper surged as much as 2.8 per cent to US$7,294.50 a metric ton Friday on the London Metal Exchange, the highest since June 2018. Prices settled at US$7,277.50 at 5:51 p.m. in London. It rose 4.2 per cent this week, the most since July.
Aluminum also touched a two-year high, while zinc climbed to the highest since May 2019. The LMEX Index of six main metals traded in London is also a two-year peak.
Aluminum “has benefited from an uptick in car manufacturing in China, and the State Council is urging cities to increase the number of license plates,” Anna Stablum, a commodity analyst at Marex Spectron, said in a note on Friday.
United Co. Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer outside China, sees the possibility of a balanced market next year and prices staying at about current levels, Chief of Sales Roman Andryushin said in an interview.
In a potential sign that zinc demand is rising, orders to remove the metal from LME warehouses doubled on Friday, reaching the highest since July, London Metal Exchange data show.