12/09/2017 08:13 AST

Hedge funds ignored the warnings about the red-hot copper market, and it may have cost them. After amassing their largest holdings ever, money managers saw the value of the metal plunge last week, halting the longest rally in a decade. While global copper supplies are tightening, Barclays had warned clients in August that production shortfalls were “over-hyped,” and Goldman Sachs Group said the metal was about 10% above fair value. Even Oscar Landerretche, the chairman of top producer Codelco, had said the gains weren’t sustainable. “Copper, really, is riding a wave of speculative fervor,” said Chad Morganlander, a Florham Park, New Jersey-based money manager at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co, which oversees $240bn. “A pull-back like this shouldn’t be a shock to anyone.”

Hedge funds and other large speculators increased their net-long copper position, or the difference between bets on a price increase and wagers on a decline, by 0.4% to 125,376 futures and options contracts in the week ended September 5, according to US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released three days later. The short position rose for the first time in six weeks.

Copper futures for December delivery on Comex in New York fell 2.5% last week, ending an eight-week run of weekly gains for the most-active contract, the longest since May 2006. Yesterday, prices rose 1.1% to $3.074 a pound in New York, and are still are up 47% from a year ago.

Supply concerns are easing after Phoenix-based Freeport- McMoRan said on August 29 that it is preparing to sell a majority stake in the Grasberg copper mine to local investors. The move is part of an effort to end a dispute with the Indonesian government over terms of its contract to operate in the country.

The accord could reduce the risk of further disruptions in production and may even lead to a ‘positive surprise’ in 2018 mine output, Standard Chartered Plc said in a report September 4. Expectations for a rebound in supply could weigh on prices, analysts at the London-based bank including Nicholas Snowdon said.

Disruptions at Grasberg and BHP Billiton’s Escondida mine in Chile pared global output in the first five months of the year, causing a shortfall in refined metal for three straight months through May, according to the Lisbon-based International Copper Study Group.

This year’s deficit will total 156,000 metric tons as mine production growth slows amid stronger Chinese demand, Dane Davis, a Barclays analyst, said in a note dated August 29. Still, he said the current supply conditions won’t last and that prices could decline by the fourth quarter. In a separate report, he called copper above $3 “overvalued and unsustainable.” Goldman analysts led by Jeffrey Currie said in a September 4 note that while “strong economic data and solid supply and demand fundamentals played an important role in the copper rally,” the metal has already climbed above its fair value of $6,200 a tonne ($2.81 a pound).

Falling copper premiums, as well as relatively cheap scrap supply and the growing speculative positioning point to “near-term weakness for copper prices,” Deutsche Bank analysts wrote in a note received yesterday. Premiums – the amount paid over exchange prices for spot delivery – fell in the China import market to $66 a ton by the end of August, from $72 at the end of July, according to SMM Information & Technology Co.

Even with those cautions, some investors say copper’s stumble last week is unlikely to persist given the outlook for robust demand and declining stockpiles. Combined inventories in warehouses tracked by exchanges in New York, London and Shanghai fell for a fourth straight week to the lowest since January.

Goldman said in its September 4 note that the bank’s technical analysis suggests a copper target price of $7,350 a ton, as momentum signals further upside risks. The JPMorgan Global Manufacturing Index advanced for a second

Gulf Times

Ticker Price Volume
QNBK 135.00 120,132
SABIC 112.40 5,501,053
STC 81.90 613,277
ALMARAI 54.10 748,793
WALAA 33.40 757,302
TAWUNIYA 72.00 683,657
BURUJ 34.25 27,534
(In US Dollar) Change Change(%)
Gold 1,331.8 21 1.6
Silver 16.55 0.38 2.35
Platinum 956 14 1.49
Palladium 986 9 0.92
Aluminium hits 3-month low as stocks ramp up, tariffs loom


Aluminium slid to a three-month low on Thursday, hurt by a rise in stocks, the prospect of looming US import tariffs, and expectations that supply from China will rise as its winter pollution control

Gulf News

Gold edges lower, seen vulnerable ahead of U.S. inflation data


Gold slipped on Tuesday, pressured by a firmer dollar and concern that US inflation data later in the day will be robust, strengthening the case for more US interest rate hikes.

Analysts po

Gulf News

Copper miners take hunt to Mongolian dunes


When temperatures rise and winds drop in the coming weeks, a band of explorers will hunt for copper riches in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. For years Rio Tinto has been the sole international copper mine o

Oman Daily Observer

Gold off lows as dollar slips on slowing US wage gains


Gold prices bounced off their lows on Friday after the US dollar slipped against most of its peers as slowing wage gains foreshadowed a gradual inflation increase this year.

US jobs growth

Gulf News

Gold gains ground amid concerns over trade war


Gold touched a near two-week high on Monday as investors opted for safe-haven assets on political uncertainty in Italy and fears of a potential escalation of a simmering global trade war.

The Gulf Today