VANCOUVER – In recent years, as prices for many resources slid, copper held its ground. Gold and silver stumbled, uranium and iron ore deteriorated, and coal and potash dragged, but copper simply settled from a five-year high of US$4.50 per lb in early 2011 to average a respectable US$3.50 for the next few years.
Now, suddenly, copper is falling. On March 11 copper futures on the London Metals Exchange closed at US$2.958 per lb, down 8% in four days and below US$3 per lb for the first time since October 2011. The day before, the most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell to its lowest level in more than four years.
Copper is supposed to be the metal with the PhD in economics, its price driven by a supply-demand balance that ebbs and flows according to global market realities. However …
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