SOURCE: Rothman Research

Rothman Research

April 19, 2010 08:25 ET

Hunger for the Red Metal

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA--(Marketwire - April 19, 2010) -  -- -- Some trends never change. Thousands of years ago, copper marked our evolution from Stone Age dwellers to more sophisticated lifestyles. In recent years, copper remains a key appliance in the development of our civilization, with China and US's appetite for the red metal ever growing. It is estimated that China's copper consumption in 2010 might jump between 10 to 15 percent helped by the country's ongoing economic growth. "We have seen China's imports of copper and related products soared to over 1.07 million tons in the first three months of 2010 which represents a huge percent increase for the same time period for the previous two years. China growth locomotive is accelerating steadfast signaling that demand projections might be in the green this year," commented Jack Benassi of, "however, in the last two years, copper has also been a versatile commodity with an rickety trading pattern. A few key factors that have impacted the price of copper in the last two years have been the downturn in the U.S. housing sector, growth rate in China and other emerging economies, and speculative trading." 

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Major copper mining operations are located in the North and South America and Asia with Chile taking the lead as an exporting country for copper. The biggest copper producer is Chilean state owned Codelco which produced around 4 billion lbs of copper in 2009. Two other copper producers that have been performing well over the years are Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) and Southern Copper Corp. (NYSE: SCCO). "Freeport-McMoRan has a wider global business going for itself with mining operations in Indonesia, North and South America and the Democratic Republic of Congo, whereas Southern Copper has mainly focused its activities in Central and Southern America. On Friday's close, FCX was down 3.61%, closing at $81.18 a share on its highest volume for the week and SCCO was also 3% down at $33.27 with its highest trading volume for the week. We believe that Friday's drop in copper stocks' prices was mainly due to China's measures to control the overwhelming expansion of its property sector which utilizes a lot of copper products and also the strengthening of the dollar as investors took knowledge of the SEC fraud charges against Goldman Sachs," observed Jack Benassi of

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After the close on Friday, Copper subsided but prospects for the short to mid-term looks promising for copper as China's hunger for the red metal is not going to contract any time soon based on the country's recent imports figures which indicated that in March imports of copper and copper products were up 42%. Another piece of good news that will drive copper in green territory, in the near-term, is the latest Residential Construction report for March 2010 which was released on Friday bearing positive data. 

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