The iPath Bloomberg Copper Subindex Total Return ETN (NYSEArca: JJC) is capping a strong 2017 in impressive fashion. The high-flying copper exchange traded note is up almost 5% over the past week and 13% in the fourth quarter, putting it in position for a 2017 gain of 30% or more.
Some commodities traders are wagering that copper can regain its recently set highs and then some. Industrial metals like copper, nickel, iron and steel have all rebounded in recent months as traders bet on improving global economic conditions would bolster demand for the base metals after prices hit multi-year lows.
“The advance in 2017 has been backstopped by supply disruptions just as the outlook for global growth improves and investors and miners target potential new uses, including in electric vehicles,” reports Bloomberg. “The world’s largest producer, Chile’s Codelco, has said prices may test records above $10,000, while UBS Group AG’s wealth management unit on Wednesday predicted further gains.”
A near-term issue for copper is the ability of the Trump Administration to get its ambitious infrastructure efforts off the ground, something many market observers believe will not happen until next year. Additionally, if that effort does not approach the $1 trillion in expenditures promised by the president on the campaign trail, markets could be disappointed.
“Copper for delivery in three months rose 1.6 percent to $7,236.50 a metric ton ($3.28 a pound) on the London Metal Exchange as trade resumed after the Christmas break. The price earlier touched $7,259, the highest since January 2014. The metal has now risen for nine days, the longest streak since 2004, and has gained 31 percent this year, the most among LME metals after aluminum,” according to Bloomberg.
Investors have pulled nearly $9 million from JJC in the fourth quarter and the copper ETN is lighter by $7.1 million this year.
Barring labor strikes in Chile, copper market observers expect the market to be fairly balanced next year with a modest rise in production. Earlier this year, there was a 44-day strike at a Chilean copper mine, the longest in the country’s history. Since 2009, the country has seen three copper strikes lasting longer than a month.
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