Copper Shines, Gold Struggles as Investors Chase Riskier Assets
A bundle of pressed lengths of copper wire at a mining and smelting complex. (Photographer: Oliver Bunic/Bloomberg)

Copper Shines, Gold Struggles as Investors Chase Riskier Assets

Copper powered to a seven-year high as the rush for growth played out in metals markets, with traditional haven gold dropping amid growing optimism for an end to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bullion extended its slide below $1,800 an ounce and copper added to a four-week surge on the back of Moderna Inc.’s announcement that it plans to request clearance for its coronavirus shot in the U.S. and Europe. The moves accelerate a pivot into risk assets in November, with global stocks heading for a record month.

“Robust price rallies in industrial commodities like copper point to an ongoing rotation from a risk-averse to risk-on asset market regime,” Citigroup Inc. analysts including Aakash Doshi said in an emailed note. Gold faces a “more uncertain path in 2021” as global growth prospects improve, they said.

Copper Shines, Gold Struggles as Investors Chase Riskier Assets

The latest boost for risk appetite came during last weekend, when top U.S. health officials said a vaccine will probably be deployed across the U.S. before the end of the year. Elsewhere, an index of China’s manufacturing sector rose to a three-year high on Monday and the country is taking steps to boost domestic consumption, including of autos and home appliances.

“It seems that base metals want to push higher, singularly focused on strong Chinese growth and pretty much oblivious to the fact that macro conditions in the West and several other countries still remain rather lackluster, as governments continue to grapple with virus infections that they have yet to bring under control,” ED&F Man Capital Markets analyst Ed Meir said in a note. “Conditions in most base metals, particularly copper, remain quite overbought, but despite that, it seems that funds want to a make a run to the psychologically significant $8,000 mark.”

  • Copper rose as much as 2.8% to $7,708.50 a metric ton, the highest since March 2013. The metal settled at $7,580 at 5:51 p.m. in London and posted the biggest monthly gain since 2016.
  • Gold fell 0.4% to $1,780.73 an ounce and is on track for a fourth straight monthly loss. Bullion for February delivery fell 0.4% to settle at $1,780.90 an ounce. Silver gained 0.4%.

Bullion is suffering as investors reverse this year’s hunt for havens amid deep economic ruptures and a fractious U.S. general election. But other factors that favor gold -- ultra-dovish monetary policy and the risk of steeper inflation -- remain in place.

“The current weakness of gold is all the more remarkable given that the U.S. dollar is likewise weak,” Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG, said in an emailed note. “After the price fell below the support level at $1,800 on Friday, the technical picture became even more gloomy, which no doubt has prompted further short-term-oriented investors to withdraw.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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