Copper futures are trading lower by 2.4% Tuesday, extending declines that have forced the red industrial metal lower by nearly 12% since the start of 2014.
Signs point to Monday’s copper rally being no more than a technical bounce because the fundamental picture is far from encouraging. While other industrial metals, such as nickel, have traded higher in 2014, copper is the worst performer of the six London-traded industrial metals. [Nickel ETNs Rallies, Lifted by Russia/Ukraine Conflict]
Slowing economic growth in China, the world’s largest copper consumer, looms large. “Global consumption of the metal will trail production by 81,000 metric tons in 2014 after a deficit of 175,000 tons last year,” reports Luzi Ann Javier for Bloomberg. China’s imports of products fell to 380,000 metric tons in February from a record 536,483 tons a month earlier, Bloomberg reported, citing Chinese customs data.
Copper exchange traded products are feeling the pain. For example, the iPath Dow Jones-UBS Copper Subindex Total Return ETN (NYSEArca: JJC) is off almost 9% in just the past month while the United States Copper Index ETF (NYSEArca: CPER) is lower by 7.5% over the same time.
Equity-based copper ETFs are feeling the pain as well. The $28.6 million First Trust ISE Global Copper Index Fund (NasdaqGM: CU), which is heavily focused on non-U.S. companies, is off about 4% in the past month. CU allocates 14.3% of its weight to U.S. stocks with Canada and the U.K. combining for over 58% of the ETF’s weight. Six emerging markets are represented in the ETF. [Supply Woes Hamper Industrial Metals ETFs]