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Copper Advances as US-China Trade Eases, Factory Activity Woes Fade

February 6, 2019 at 17:40 by Andrew Moran

Copper futures are advancing midweek as US-China trade tensions ease and concerns over Beijing’s factory activity numbers from last week fade into the background. Could this be start of a bull run? A new report suggests that the industrial metal could rally by 10% by the summer – copper prices are already up 7% so far this year.

March copper futures jumped $0.02, or 0.75%, to $2.84 per pound at 16:01 GMT on Wednesday on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Year-to-date, copper prices have risen 7.4%.

The red metal is gaining on reports that senior US and Chinese officials are about to initiate another round of trade negotiations in Beijing next week, which will concentrate on intellectual property. The meeting, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, will attempt to establish a deal that would raise US tariffs on Chinese goods on March 2.

This news helped offset concerns about sluggish factory activity in China, slumping to a three-year low in January as new orders dipped and output declined. When the figures were released, it exacerbated concerns that a significant slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy is on the horizon.

Despite fears lingering in the background, Citibank has become bullish on copper, forecasting that the red metal will surge by 10% within the next six months. The Wall Street titan thinks the US and China will soon reach a trade deal and the global economy will recover from the recent slump. This comes as copper tumbled 15% in 2018.

In other industry news, it was confirmed that the Zambian government will introduce a new 5% copper import duty as part of the Mining Ministry’s efforts to keep a greater portion of mineral resource profits. Because the country is sliding into more debt, officials believe these revenues can help it tackle its debt.

A stronger US dollar capped copper’s gains as the greenback edged up 0.17% to 96.24. A higher buck makes dollar-denominated commodities more expensive for foreign investors to purchase.

In other metals markets, April gold futures shed $2.90, or 0.22%, to $1,316.30 per ounce. March silver futures fell $0.10, or 0.65%, to $15.74 an ounce. March platinum futures slipped $7.00, or 0.85%, to $812.90 an ounce. March palladium futures tacked on $11.00, or 0.82%, to $1,352.20 per ounce.

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