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Copper Talk: Has copper lost its knack for predicting future economic conditions?

Copper prices lost 7% in 2013 even as U.S. manufacturing rose 2.2% and builders broke ground on 18.7% more homes. This Bloomberg report says construction accounts for about 40% of copper use, with a typical home containing about 439 pounds.

This Bloomberg report throws another log on the fire of controversy over plummeting copper prices and their accuracy these days as a leading indicator for global economic conditions. The report said in part:

“While the world economy is forecast to expand by the most in three years, the metal that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said he once considered a useful indicator is plunging. Prices in New York are off to the worst start to a year since the Comex futures debuted in 1988. In the past 16 quarters, copper moved in the same direction as global gross domestic product just six times. In December, its correlation to the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was the lowest since 2008.”

Bloomberg also said in the article that declining copper prices do not appear to be in synch with rising demand for copper in housing and manufacturing applications:

"Copper prices lost 7 percent in 2013 even as U.S. manufacturing rose 2.2 percent and builders broke ground on 18.7 percent more homes, bringing total housing starts to a six-year high. Construction accounts for about 40 percent of copper use, with a typical home containing about 439 pounds."

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