Copper soared through the $2.70 level on Friday, to close at a near two-year high, as global supplies of the red metal are threatened. A strike at Escondida in Chile, the world’s largest mine, has curtailed production there, and Freeport is unable to export its copper from Indonesia.
Aluminum is challenging its prior high of 87¢ set in May 2015; lead is approaching $1.10, a price not seen since early 2013, and we have to go back to 2007 when zinc was last stood at $1.30. In sharp contrast though, nickel and tin are far behind the rest of the base metals team. But caution is warranted here, as the newly appointed environmental minister in the Philippines plans to shut half the mines in that country where about 17% of the world’s nickel is produced.
With regard to tin, although inventories have risen recently, they have nevertheless fallen more than 20,000 mt, or 80% since 2009. So while nickel and tin look technically weak at the moment, it will come as no surprise to see these guys wake up, and join the rest of the family at the table of higher prices.