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Copper is Bullion too!
Prices are on the increase!
This is a sound investment for the future
China sits on 40% of the worlds copper. With China and India emerging as global traiders, the price of copper, which is in very high demand, is set to rocket
17:17, Thursday 28 April 2011,
Gold has been seen as a symbol of wealth for thousands of years, while copper is a metal that's so poorly regarded it's what we use to make our lowest-value coins from.
Except we don't use it any more. Why? Because the value of copper has risen so much it would cost quite a bit more than 1p to make a penny piece from it now. Since 1992 the Royal Mint has made 1p and 2p pieces of copper-plated steel instead.
The value of copper is now so high that trains are being delayed across Europe as thieves steal the wires from the ground near train tracks, security is being beefed up and laws changed to try to prevent more theft. In the UK copper water pipes are being ripped from walls, school roofs are being stripped and water tanks stolen as thieves loot easily-accessible copper.
Copper has tripled in price in two years, from just over $3,000 per metric tonne in February 2009 to above $10,000 (£6,000) a tonne in February 2011, although it has slipped back a little since then. "Perhaps copper is the new gold," Pinaki Rath, the managing director of Gold Matrix Resources, said this week.
And as the world's economies continue to improve their infrastructure and crave more modern conveniences, copper may even provide better long-term returns than gold.
Why copper prices are rising
Used in a variety of infrastructure, electrical and power generation products, copper could be the best way to play the industrial metal complex and the strengthening global economy.
The red hot metal is facing good long and short term prospects despite the generalised rise in commodity prices. On the supply side, global stockpiles of copper are expected to fall to an all-time low this year on top of the nearly 22% decline in inventories in 2010.
Analysts predict that the global refined-copper market may experience a deficit of 500,000 tons to 600,000 tons in 2011. Various bank analysts and executives from copper producer Freeport-McMoRan have stated that low ore grades and scarce new resources will dwindle supplies. Australia's Macquarie Bank estimates that 2011's shortage may be the largest since 2004.
On the demand side, continued emerging market growth is one of the main factors in copper investment. Analysts at Barclay's estimate that China currently accounts for 40% of global copper demand. However, its per capita use is still 10 years behind the average developed Asian economy.
As China matures, its copper consumption will need to rise to 20 million tons. The current annual total worldwide production of copper is only about 16 million tons. India's copper demand is set to grow by 7-11% through 2011, as it expands its energy transmission architecture. In addition, many analysts see potential new future demand for copper by hospitals due to its antibacterial qualities. This new source of demand is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of tons.
All of this bullishness for the industrial metal has many analysts upping their price targets for copper for 2011. Macquarie estimates that copper throughout the year will average $11,025 a metric ton, a 32% increase on its previous estimate. Morgan Stanley also increased its price targets for the metal through 2015. Analysts there predict prices will average $4.45 a pound in 2011. (Ore in the ground).
Copper prices are currently trading at around $9,350 a tonne (£5,647)
While gold and silver get all the attention, the long-term base metals rally chugs on with copper as the star of the show. Despite the run up in copper prices throughout 2010, the metal will undergo a major supply-demand deficit going forward.
With improvements in global infrastructure increasing at a rapid pace, investors should consider adding some copper exposure to their portfolios.