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© 2021 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
(Bloomberg) -- Coinbase Global Inc. sank to a record low as investors fled high-flying market newcomers.The operator of the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange slumped 6% to $256.76 on Thursday, dropping for a fourth straight day. That left the shares just above the $250 reference price for its April direct listing. An exchange-traded fund that tracks shares of companies that recently went public plunged for an eighth day, the longest slide since 2015. Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. and Opendoor Technologies Inc., companies that came to market through blank-check offerings, each sank at least 3.8%.“We saw a mini-bubble in SPACs, IPOs, crypto, clean-tech and hyper-growth in late 2020 and early 2021 and many of these asset classes are nursing bad hangovers,” said Mike Bailey, director of research at FBB Capital Partners.Coinbase’s slide comes as investors pour into extremely speculative cryptocurrencies such as Dogecoin and Binance Coin -- tokens that the exchange doesn’t offer. Most of its traffic had come from Bitcoin trades, but the price of the largest crypto coin has been mired in a narrow band for weeks. Coinbase started trading at $381 on April 14 before briefly topping $400. It’s now down 22% from the close on its first day.Nasdaq had set a reference price of $250 a share on April 13 for Coinbase’s direct listing, a number that’s a requirement for the stock to begin trading, but not a direct indicator of the company’s potential market capitalization.“What has really hurt Coinbase, now that their direct listing has taken off, you’re seeing expectations that other exchanges are coming on board,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda. “There’s this belief this could be as good as it gets for Coinbase in the short-term.”The Renaissance IPO ETF dropped 4.2% on Thursday, bringing its year-to-date loss to about 14%.(Updates prices.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
LONDON (Reuters) -Europe's consumers will feel the hit from price rises this year as companies seek to recoup revenues and cover pandemic-related costs. Over the past year, the fallout from COVID-19 has contorted both the demand and supply sides of the global economy, creating bottlenecks in supply chains, havoc in freight markets and a rally in raw materials from corn to copper. Lockdowns, meanwhile, have deprived well-off consumers in Europe and elsewhere of the opportunities to spend their cash, creating record levels of savings and a window of opportunity for companies to push through price increases.
(Bloomberg) -- Zambia said a lack of capital halted production at a copper mine it seized from Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources Ltd., a development the operator disputed.The standstill at Konkola Deep, a high-grade underground pit that also contains cobalt, was triggered by a shortage of funds to develop new mining areas, said Barnaby Mulenga, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines. The lack of capital is also curbing output at other operations of Konkola Copper Mines Plc, which was placed under provisional liquidation in 2019 after the government alleged Vedanta lied about expansion plans and paid too little tax.KCM said on Thursday that Konkola Deep is still operating. Higher copper prices will also make it economical to open up new mining areas, it said in a statement.The developments at KCM come as copper surged back above $10,000 a ton, with the reopening of major industrial economies sparking a commodities rally. Africa’s No. 2 copper producer is reliant on exports of the metal, but production at Konkola Deep may only resume after the resolution of a legal arbitration with Vedanta opens the way for new investment, Mulenga said.“This demand for copper will only get higher and the sooner these issues are resolved there is still an opportunity to exploit this resource,” Mulenga said. “This is a giant which is sleeping and we remain positive that it will be mined at some point.”Zambia Plan to Sell Billionaire’s Mines Stuck in Legal Mire Mulenga said KCM’s current challenges result from Vedanta failing to complete underground works that would have allowed more ore to be extracted from Konkola Deep. The flagship mine in Zambia’s Copperbelt requires most of the $1.2 billion needed to turn KCM around, he said.Vedanta, which has denied the government’s allegations, said it was “saddened” to hear about the production halt at Konkola Deep. The company said it had invested more than $1.7 billion in KCM and had planned to spend a further $1.5 billion to make the operations profitable.Last month, employees of more than 30 contractors at KCM stopped work and staged protests over workers’ grievances.The mounting problems at KCM highlight the political risks as President Edgar Lungu’s government seeks a greater share of mining revenues ahead of elections this year. While Zambia’s copper production rose to a record last year, that didn’t prevent the nation from defaulting on its external debt.Zambia also plans to sell a majority stake in Mopani Copper Mines Plc after acquiring the operations from Glencore Plc, Mulenga said earlier this year. The government wants to raise about $300 million to expand output and pay off the $1.5 billion it owes the commodities giant.A Copper Mining Lesson From Zambia: History Repeats Itself (Updates with comment from KCM in third paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Adidas is trying to win back Chinese shoppers after being caught up in the March uproar over its stances on Xinjiang.
(Bloomberg) -- One of the biggest Brexit battlegrounds between the European Union and the U.K. now has a price tag: at least $2.4 million a day.That’s how much any move by the European Union to cut off access to London’s dominant clearinghouses for derivatives could cost traders in euro interest rate swaps, net of buying, according to an estimate from Albert Menkveld, professor of finance at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, who has sat on advisory panels to European regulatory authorities.Fragmenting cross-Channel clearing would result in additional costs because global dealers would need more collateral for their positions in multiple clearinghouses in the U.K. and in the EU, Menkveld said. They wouldn’t be able to offset, or net, the positions as easily and that would require dealers to raise extra funds.Those additional costs would likely be passed on to pensions, money managers and other users of derivatives in the local jurisdiction, Menkveld said, who compares the burden on financial markets to traffic jams caused by passport controls.“This is the price we all paid for control by national authorities,” Menkveld wrote in a blog post. “As a European citizen I can now zip onto the Autobahn at 100-plus kilometers per hour, but my pension fund might soon pay for crossing the border with the U.K. to diversify risk.”His tally is one of the first to show the immediate fallout if authorities stop the seamless, cross-Channel settlement of trillions in euro interest rate swap contracts, which currently takes place largely in London. The actual cost could be far greater if it weakens London’s attractiveness as a global financial center. The business is widely viewed as a core pillar of London’s standing and the EU’s desire to pull more of that business away has prompted sabre-rattling from politicians, financiers and even the governor of the Bank of England.The U.K. and major lobby groups for the biggest banks and money managers in the world are calling for the EU to maintain easy access to London clearinghouses, including the London Stock Exchange Group Plc’s LCH unit which is the world’s biggest for euro interest rate swaps. The European Commission in Brussels wants the bloc’s traders to move more of their euro-denominated business inside the EU and not rely so heavily on London. A ruling last year extended access to London through June 2022.Clearinghouses serve as a key hub in the global financial system, settling hundreds of trillions of dollars in deals between banks, hedge funds, pensions and a wide range of corporations. The firms collect collateral, or margin, from buyers and sellers to reduce the risk that the default of one side spreads panic to the other and, in turn, across the broader system.If the temporary decision isn’t renewed, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey has said a quarter of euro-derivatives clearing business would need to shift to the EU. The rest would likely stay in London because it is currently the most efficient place for it, he said.Additional CostsThe estimated net price impact probably understates the total additional costs to traders in the market from the disruption that would ensue, Menkveld said.Costs could mount because traders would probably have a harder time offsetting positions in euros, pounds and other currencies as well as the increased compliance burden. In more stressed markets, traders could face much higher costs from the split and difficulty using clearinghouses in both the U.K. and the EU, he said.“There is a trade-off here between the benefits of local control by regulators, and the additional costs that fragmented clearing imposes,” Menkveld said. “The benefit is hard to quantify but the costs are non-trivial.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. consumer credit climbed in March by more than forecast, highlighting an increased willingness to borrow as economic activity resumes.Total credit rose $25.8 billion from the prior month after a $26.1 billion gain in February, Federal Reserve figures showed Friday. On an annualized basis, borrowing rose 7.4% in March. Economists in a Bloomberg survey had called for an $20 billion gain.Revolving credit, which includes credit cards, rose $6.4 billion after an $8 billion increase. Non-revolving credit, which includes auto and school loans, jumped $19.4 billion, the most since June. Demand for cars has been strong, but limited by supply constraints due to a global semiconductor shortage.The broad-based borrowing increases suggest consumers are growing more confident as government stimulus checks circulate, vaccinations become more widespread and states ease or lift restrictions all together.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
The stage is set for an explosion in the amount of stock buybacks, says Goldman Sachs.
(Bloomberg) -- A tiny exchange-traded fund that raised eyebrows last month when it changed its ticker to BTC -- the three-letter shorthand almost everybody in crypto uses for Bitcoin -- is reversing the move.The ClearShares Piton Intermediate Fixed Income ETF will revert to the ticker PIFI from May 11, the fund’s issuer said in a brief filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. No explanation was given for the move.The fund’s initial change to BTC in April stirred speculation ClearShares was moving to secure the ticker for an eventual Bitcoin ETF, as multiple firms race to get SEC approval for the first such product.That theory gained traction when Grayscale Investments LLC, the company behind the world’s biggest cryptocurrency trust, said it was taking a stake in ClearShares. Days earlier the firm had announced it was “100% committed” to converting the $31 billion Grayscale Bitcoin Trust into an ETF.The SEC punted on its eagerly-waited verdict late last month, pushing the decision on whether to approve a Bitcoin product to June 17.Read more: SEC Punts Long-Awaited Bitcoin ETF Decision to at Least JuneTicker confusion among investors is nothing new, and seems to have intensified as retail traders play an ever-greater role in the stock market. For instance, the popularity of Zoom Video Communications Inc. sparked brief surges in the shares of Zoom Technologies Inc., after traders confused its ticker symbol ZOOM with that of the video-conferencing company.New York-based 5G Edge Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, filed last month to go public under the symbol ARK, strikingly similar to the tickers for Cathie Wood’s line-up of popular ETFs.Assets in the Piton Intermediate Fixed Income ETF have almost doubled to $62 million since the BTC switch, with all of the new inflow coming in a single day shortly after the symbol change.Spokespersons for Grayscale and ClearShares didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
LONDON (Reuters) -The Bank of England slowed the pace of its trillion dollar stimulus program and forecast a faster recovery for Britain from the coronavirus slump on Thursday, but stressed it was not tightening monetary policy. Governor Andrew Bailey said it was good news that the economy looked set for a stronger recovery than previously forecast, with less unemployment.
The longer-term uptrend is likely to remain intact as long as prices can hold above the major 50% level at $1788.50.
Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary may agree with billionaire investor Warren Buffett, and his right-hand man, Charlie Munger, on a number of things. The trading app Robinhood, isn’t one of them.
Stocks traded mixed Friday as investors digested a disappointing April jobs report, which showed the U.S. economy added back far fewer jobs than expected last month despite easing stay-in-place restrictions.
The Bank of England's decision on Thursday to slow the pace of its bond-buying makes it the second central bank from a G7 economy to begin the slow exit from pandemic-era money-printing stimulus schemes. The big three of central banking - the U.S. Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan - won't officially pare stimulus for a while. The Bank of Canada's C$1 billion ($806 million) cut to its weekly bond-buying programme last month highlights the next phase is about slowing hefty asset purchases.
(Bloomberg) -- Some of the City of London’s biggest firms are backing government proposals designed to attract more business.Bankers, brokers and accountants “largely supported” proposals unveiled earlier this year by the U.K. government to boost London’s listing regime, according to a report Friday by the financial center’s governing body.Interviewees -- including representatives from the London Stock Exchange Group Plc, Deutsche Bank AG and law firm Linklaters -- back the introduction of weighted voting rights on the premium segment of the London stock exchange to give founders more control over their companies, and lowering the minimum stake that has to be floated in an IPO.The support will be welcome news for the U.K. government after some of London’s biggest investors have expressed concerns that changing standards could weaken investor protections. When Deliveroo Plc listed in March, its dual-class structure was criticized by the likes of Legal & General Investment Management, even though the company is confined to the standard segment of the LSE for now.With over $10 billion of IPOs this year, London is the biggest listing venue in Europe, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That lags New York, where nearly $69 billion has been raised, and Hong Kong, which has drawn $20 billion of listings.“It is crucial that businesses around the globe can access the U.K.’s equity capital markets, said Catherine McGuinness, chair of the policy and resources committee at the City of London Corporation. “We should act now to ensure that the U.K. remains internationally attractive as a listing venue.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is wading deeper into the $1 trillion Bitcoin market, offering Wall Street investors a way to place big bets.The investment bank has opened up trading with non-deliverable forwards, a derivative tied to Bitcoin’s price that pays out in cash. The firm then protects itself from the digital currency’s famous volatility by buying and selling Bitcoin futures in block trades on CME Group Inc., using Cumberland DRW as its trading partner. Goldman, which still isn’t active in the Bitcoin spot market, introduced the wagers to clients last month without an announcement.“Institutional demand continues to grow significantly in this space, and being able to work with partners like Cumberland will help us expand our capabilities,” said Max Minton, Goldman’s Asia-Pacific head of digital assets. The new offering is “paving the way for us to evolve our nascent cash-settled crypto-currency capabilities.”Goldman Sachs, which restarted a trading desk this year to help clients deal in publicly traded futures tied to Bitcoin, said in March it was also close to offering private wealth clients additional vehicles to bet on crypto prices. But the push into forwards dramatically increases its capacity to help big investors take positions. The partnership with Cumberland underscores the bank’s willingness to work with outside firms to help it do so, according to people familiar with the matter, speaking on the condition they not be identified.For years after its creation in 2009, Bitcoin was shunned by Wall Street banks, with JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon once threatening to fire any of his traders caught buying and selling the digital currency. While Dimon later softened his tone, the banking world has long seen Bitcoin as a plaything for criminals, drug dealers and money launderers.Read more: Wall Street Stays on Crypto Sidelines as Tesla Boosts BitcoinBut client interest and Bitcoin’s astronomical price gains -- reaching a high of almost $65,000 in April -- have turned many bankers around, with Morgan Stanley making a Bitcoin trust product available to its customers and JPMorgan working on a similar offering.“Goldman Sachs serves as a bellwether of how sophisticated, institutional investors approach shifts in the market,” said Justin Chow, global head of business development for Cumberland DRW. “We’ve seen rapid adoption and interest in crypto from more traditional financial firms this year, and Goldman’s entrance into the space is yet another sign of how it’s maturing.”Banks are still wary of the regulatory challenges of holding Bitcoin outright. As derivatives settled with cash, the products Goldman Sachs is offering don’t require dealing with physical Bitcoin. In a similar way, the Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan trusts give customers access to vehicles tracking Bitcoin’s price while using a third party to buy and hold the underlying digital asset.Goldman Sachs may next offer hedge fund clients exchange-traded notes based on Bitcoin or access to the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, one of the people said.“The crypto ecosystem is developing rapidly,” Chow said. “There is progress being made in offering ETFs, new custody providers coming online and optimism that regulatory efforts are coming into focus. It’s a great time to be in the space.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- High-grade U.S. bond spreads hit a more than three-year low on Friday as investors prowling for yield amid easy monetary policies drive demand for corporate debt.The risk premium on high-grade bonds tightened one basis point to close at 87 basis points, a level reached only a handful of times since the 2008 financial crisis, according to Bloomberg Barclays index data. Even as issuers storm the market with new debt sales, the seemingly insatiable investor demand has so far continued to translate into attractive funding costs for companies.Investment-grade bonds have posted their best returns since November, logging gains of more than 1% in April amid strong economic projections, following the worst start to a year since 1980. Inflation concerns earlier in the year drove up Treasury yields and caused some debt buyers to grow cautious of duration risks in fixed income.Bond investors are again racing to find places to park their cash as spreads across the spectrum plummet amid strong corporate earnings, improving economic forecasts and an accelerating Covid-19 vaccine rollout.Investors have added cash to corporate bond funds all year with inflows reaching $3.85 billion in the week ended May 5, according to Refinitiv Lipper.Still, new federal tax policies that target corporations and high earners could dim the outlook. Inflation could also pick up, causing a rise in Treasury yields that hits investment-grade debt, which is sensitive to rates moves because of its duration. But it might take more than that to stem the tightening of spreads as foreign buyers add to demand.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The dust hadn’t yet settled on Archegos Capital Management’s implosion, when hedge funds started shifting their bets toward banks that avoided getting hurt, hoping to keep leveraging up just like before. Good luck with that.For weeks behind the scenes, Wall Street’s giants have been autopsying failures at rivals including Credit Suisse Group AG and Nomura Holdings Inc., identifying risks that they plan to address by more thoroughly vetting hedge funds or imposing more onerous terms on their trades, according to people close to the discussions. No one wants to be the next to tell shareholders and regulators how they failed to heed the lessons of Archegos.Inside Bank of America Corp., which refused to do business with Archegos, Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan has been quizzing subordinates on what more is needed to protect the firm. The episode has hardened the resolve of Wells Fargo & Co. executives that low-risk margin lending is wiser, even if less profitable. UBS Group AG CEO Ralph Hamers has signaled that clients will have to hand over more information when borrowing.And in New York, managers of small hedge funds who lack the negotiating clout of trading whales are grousing. For the little guy especially, the saga will make it harder to borrow money from banks to finance bets.While specific measures will vary by bank and client -- and in many cases are still being ironed out -- the talks and tensions point to greater pressure on clients to reveal their biggest wagers, stricter margin limits on those positions, more frequent collateral adjustments and more rigorous audits. The deliberations were described by executives close to prime brokerage desks and money managers.“There will be more calories expended, both in terms of those desks doing due diligence in the market as well as in some cases they may outright ask clients about that,” Mike Edwards, deputy chief investment officer at Weiss Multi-Strategy Advisers, a $3 billion hedge fund. Previously, it was “not a requirement at most places that you would disclose to a swap counterparty that you have the same position on at multiple places.”Such concerns have risen to the top of the regulatory world. Fed Governor Lael Brainard, the head of the Board’s financial stability committee, called for “more granular, higher-frequency disclosures” on Thursday.“The Archegos event illustrates the limited visibility into hedge-fund exposures and serves as a reminder that available measures of hedge-fund leverage may not be capturing important risks,” she said.The Securities and Exchange Commission will consider adjusting some of its rules that require investors to publicly report large stock holdings so they will also cover swaps, Gary Gensler, the regulator’s new chairman, told lawmakers on Thursday.Two Sigma’s MoveThe thirst from banks to boost business with clients like Bill Hwang’s Archegos allowed him to shop for the most generous terms and amplify his wagers. He was able to parlay over $20 billion of his fortune into total bets that exceeded $100 billion, built on the back of banks tripping over each other to fuel his leveraged empire. Hwang used that to to make aggressive asks, demanding strikingly off-market margin terms -- such as $8.50 in leverage for every $1 he put in -- for building his book in Chinese stocks. Some banks demurred, others played ball.In the wake of his fund’s collapse, it’s less likely that other hedge funds will be able to win such terms. Bank officials declined to be interviewed.No bank got hit harder than Credit Suisse when Archegos was unable to meet margin calls from prime brokers in March. The Swiss bank lost more than $5.5 billion after losing a race with peers to sell off the family office’s unusually concentrated and leveraged bets on stocks, in a portfolio that swelled to more than $100 billion.Not too long after, Two Sigma heard from contacts at Credit Suisse, according to people with knowledge of the exchange: Could the investment firm please trim its exposure and move a few billion dollars somewhere else?It wasn’t a hardship; investment firms as big as the $58 billion quant money manager are used to shifting between brokerages. But it adds to a broader outflow, as Credit Suisse adjusts risk tolerances and practices, slashing lending to hedge funds by a third. Hedge fund manager Marshall Wace, with more than $50 billion in assets, also shifted business from Credit Suisse to some U.S. banks, a person familiar with the matter said last month.Unusual ReviewWithin days of the Archegos blowup in March, Deutsche Bank AG and BNP Paribas SA alone had received more than $10 billion in inflows from a number of clients pulling away from Credit Suisse, according to a person with knowledge of the moves. The investors included D.E. Shaw, Two Sigma and Marshall Wace. Representatives for the firms declined to comment.Additional inflow recipients include Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America, according to people with knowledge of their businesses, both of which are working on measures to keep risks in check.Inside Bank of America, executives fielding that money have been conducting an unusual review: Examining what went right in the lender’s decision to refuse Archegos as a client this year. That could help the firm avoid potential headaches. Discussions there have revolved, in part, around boosting collateral for certain types of swaps, depending on the situation.When Archegos came up at the bank’s annual meeting last month, Moynihan lauded senior executives for paying close attention to the amount of risk the board is willing to take.Archegos had around $3 billion at the start of 2020 before it lost roughly half within a few months, according to a bank executive that worked with the investment firm. By March of this year its portfolio had soared to $23 billion -- making it a prized customer at a handful of banks around the world.Warning SignsReviews by prime brokers have pointed to an array of warning signs that not everyone heeded, such as the dramatic month-to-month swings in the value of its portfolio. There also was its heavy preference for swaps -- rather than direct stakes -- that hid its concentration of bets on a handful of companies. And it used an accounting firm not normally associated with money managers commanding so much firepower.As Archegos swelled, the reaction among prime brokerage managers was split: At one bank, they expressed amazement to colleagues, at another executives saw it as radioactive and steered clear. Employees at that firm have since been examining other hedge fund clients for similar patterns and expect to have conversations with some about adjusting the terms of their business.Many big hedge funds set up multiple prime brokerage relationships, sometimes using a few of the industry’s giants -- JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley -- as well as a few others such as Credit Suisse for supplementary leverage on their bets.But managers overseeing smaller mounts of money typically find they don’t have as many options. Though some banks such as Morgan Stanley make a point of serving fledgling funds, smaller money managers say they generally face more-onerous terms on trades.Worsening TermsThe Archegos blowup is going to make that situation all the worse, two veteran managers atop smaller firms said. Deeper due diligence costs prime brokerages time and money. Fewer mid-sized prime brokerages will offer as much margin or the breaks on trading terms that were available just months ago. The money managers worry that they face a more take-it-or-leave-it environment than interest in doing business.The frustrations over Archegos are shared by bigger firms too.In a letter to investors, Marshall Wace co-founder Paul Marshall raged over how Archegos caught prime brokers by surprise using opaque swaps.“The prime brokers have paid the price for extending so much risk,” he wrote last month, chiding them for not asking enough questions. “PBs will improve.”(Updates with comment from SEC chairman in ninth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Investors appear unwilling to give up until there is definitive proof that the Fed is getting ready to begin tapering its bond purchases.
(Bloomberg) -- Copper soared this week to an all-time high, continuing a sizzling rally that’s seen prices double in the past year.The previous copper record was set in 2011, around the peak of the commodities supercycle sparked by China’s rise to economic heavyweight status — fueled by massive amounts of raw materials. This time, investors are betting that copper’s vital role in the world’s shift to green energy will mean surging demand and even higher prices. Copper futures rose as high as $10,440 a ton in London on Friday. What’s the big deal about copper?Through human history, copper has played a critical role in many of civilization’s greatest advances: from early monetary systems to municipal plumbing, from the rise of trains, planes and cars to the devices and networks that underpin the information age.The reddish brown metal is mostly unrivaled as an electrical and thermal conductor, while also being durable and easy to work with. Today, a vast array of uses in all corners of heavy industry, construction and manufacturing mean it’s a famously reliable indicator for trends in the global economy.The copper market was one of the first to react as the Covid-19 coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, with prices slumping by more than a quarter between January and March last year. Then as China’s unprecedented steps to control the domestic spread of the virus started to yield results, copper rapidly rebounded -- and it hasn’t looked back since.But it’s not just China driving the rally. While the country accounts for half of the world’s copper consumption and has played an integral part in copper’s surge, demand there has actually softened this year. Yet prices continue to drive higher.Why is copper surging now?It’s partly due to evidence of recoveries in other major industrial economies, with manufacturing output surging in places like the U.S., Germany and Japan. But investors have also been piling into copper on a bet that global efforts to cut carbon emissions are going to mean the world needs a lot more of the metal, putting a strain on supply. New mine production may be slow to arrive, as mines are hard to find and expensive to develop.Electric vehicles contain about four times as much copper as a conventional car, and vast amounts of copper wiring will be needed in roadside chargers to keep them running. Bringing electricity from offshore wind farms to national power grids is also a copper-intensive exercise.Governments around the world have announced ambitious infrastructure investment plans, much of which involves construction, green energy, or both.Are things that use copper getting more expensive?Increasingly, yes. Major manufacturers have been hiking prices for air-conditioning units and fridges over the past few months, and they’re warning there may be more to come.Still, copper is often used in small quantities in complex consumer goods, and so the doubling in prices over the past year won’t be nearly as painful for consumers as an equivalent jump in food or fuel prices would be. Similarly, governments rolling out big spending programs might not be too worried about a rise in copper alone.But with other raw materials rising too, there are growing signs that they’ll get less bang for their buck as the cost of big-ticket items like wind turbines rise.What does it mean for the economy?There are mounting concerns that the broad rally in everything from lumber to steel will force central bankers to step in to stop inflation in raw-materials markets spiralling out of control.In turn, the stellar economic rebound that’s driving the commodities rally may start to stall as businesses are hit by higher interest rates, compressed margins, and waning demand from consumers. The key question for policymakers at the Federal Reserve — and traders on Wall Street — is whether the broad spike in commodities prices will be temporary.Could the rally fizzle out?In the case of copper, there are some signs that spot demand is starting to cool, particularly in China, and some analysts and traders say the record prices aren’t justified by today’s fundamentals.The view among policymakers is that the rise in commodities prices will prove short-lived, as consumers will focus their spending on services and experiences as economies open up, easing the strain on demand for commodities-intensive items such as second homes, electronics and appliances seen during lockdown.For copper though, it’s not just about strong demand today. In fact, a lot of expected spending on renewables and electric-vehicle infrastructure is yet to really materialize. When it does, it could transform the outlook for copper usage in countries such as Germany and the U.S.How high could copper go?Trafigura Group, the world’s top copper trader, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. both say prices could hit $15,000 a ton in the coming years, on the back of a global surge in demand due to the shift to green energy. Bank of America says $20,000 could even be possible if drastic issues arise on the supply side.The copper market itself may also be facing a big shift. Trafigura predicts that demand growth in China will be eclipsed by rising consumption in the rest of the world over the coming decade, in a dramatic reversal of the recent trend. That could help underpin a new “supercycle” in the copper market, driving prices higher for years on the back of a step-change in global demand.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
As U.S. stocks head into a seasonally rocky stretch, investors are gauging to what extent markets have anticipated a number of factors that could sway asset prices, from massive government stimulus to looming inflation. Though equities remain near all-time highs, some sectors have gotten off to an uneven start this month, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite down more than 2% so far this week while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose to a record on Thursday. While retail investors have been net buyers of stocks for 10 straight weeks, hedge funds have been sellers, client data from BofA Global Research showed, with the four-week average of net sales of equities by hedge funds hitting their highest levels since the firm began tracking the data in 2008.