Copper slumps to a post-crisis low

Copper has hit the skids, dragging down equities and bonds with it.

It has not been a good week for commodities. While oil's latest decline was in the spotlight, copper plunged well below $6,000 a tonne for the first time since 2009. That left the Bloomberg Commodity index at a 12-year low.

The ongoing falls in raw-materials prices rattled equities and bonds. US ten-year Treasury yields fell to their lowest level since May 2013 as prices rose. The World Bank added to jitters by trimming its 2015 global growth forecasts.

What the commentators said

All the talk of slumps and falling prices isn't helping. "There is certainly a deflationary mind-set in the markets," said Jim Vogel of FTN Financial.

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This is "an overreaction" on the part of investors, reckoned Bart Malek of TD Securities. "It's too early to say the world is falling apart."

Falling oil prices should boost global growth late this year, agreed Capital Economics, ensuring global GDP growth of 3% in 2015, pretty much the same as last year. And the fall in copper "is still consistent with only a small dip in China's manufacturing sector, rather than a hard landing'".

Perhaps, said Deutsche Bank, but don't expect a turnaround in copper prices any time soon. Supplies look healthy, and the slowdown in Chinese property sales has yet to feed through fully to copper demand. Throw in new Chinese credit restrictions, said Malcolm Freeman of Kingdom Futures, and the current price of $5,800 a tonne looks about right.

Andrew Van Sickle

Andrew is the editor of MoneyWeek magazine. He grew up in Vienna and studied at the University of St Andrews, where he gained a first-class MA in geography & international relations.

After graduating he began to contribute to the foreign page of The Week and soon afterwards joined MoneyWeek at its inception in October 2000. He helped Merryn Somerset Webb establish it as Britain’s best-selling financial magazine, contributing to every section of the publication and specialising in macroeconomics and stockmarkets, before going part-time.

His freelance projects have included a 2009 relaunch of The Pharma Letter, where he covered corporate news and political developments in the German pharmaceuticals market for two years, and a multiyear stint as deputy editor of the Barclays account at Redwood, a marketing agency.

Andrew has been editing MoneyWeek since 2018, and continues to specialise in investment and news in German-speaking countries owing to his fluent command of the language.