Cautious on Copper

Plenty of commodities, including industrial and precious metals, are soaring this year on the back of the dollar’s descent. That includes copper and the iPath Dow Jones-UBS Copper Subindex Total Return ETN (NYSEArca: JJC), an exchange traded note that tracks copper price movements.

JJC is up 7.6% year-to-date and more than 11% over the past month, but that rally has some commodities market observers exercising caution on the red metal. While production cuts may support prices now, the bounce in the copper market may be short lived as fundamental factors remain weak.

Despite falling prices, which have pushed as much as a tenth of the world’s copper miners into the negative, the drop has not been severe enough to trigger supply cuts, Reuters reports. [ETF Chart of the Day: Copper Call]

Last year, Deutsche Bank also cut its copper projections due to weak Chinese demand. DB also expects rising supply in 2016 on new mine commissions, which could cause copper to “remain vulnerable to periodic bouts of ‘shorting.’”

“Copper prices, widely viewed as a barometer of global economic health, are highly sensitive to sentiment in China, which accounts for roughly 45% of global copper demand. Chinese policy makers increased monetary stimulus by lowering the amount of cash that commercial banks must keep on reserve by 0.5% late last month, signaling to the market that China will keep trying to stabilize economic growth. Growth slowed to 7.4% last year, the country’s weakest rate in 24 years,” reports Manuela Badawy for Barron’s.

China, the world’s second largest economy, has been grappling with weaker growth, raising concerns over its ability to maintain previous levels of demand for raw materials, like copper.