GFMS: Copper’s False Dawn Will Fade

The global copper market is heading for its fifth consecutive year of surplus and price decline in 2016 as demand growth, reined back by China’s continued slowdown, meets with more than ample supply. While the GFMS team at Thomson Reuters expects the forecast surplus this year of 150,000 metric tons (mt) to amount to less than half of last year’s 363,000 mt, this does not herald an imminent return to deficit and a marked upturn in prices. That was the sobering message from Thomson Reuters, which released its GFMS Copper Survey 2016, as copper industry leaders gather in Santiago, Chile, for Copper Week during April.

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Demand Remains Healthy as Growth in Mined Silver Slows

Silver is prized primarily for its dual role as a monetary asset as well as an important industrial metal used in a widerange of applications. Industrial demand for silver, the largest component of total silver offtake, is set to increase its share of total demand in 2016, according to the Silver Institute. In 2015, industrial fabrication demand accounted for an estimated 54% of total physical silver demand.

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Metal Prices Record Modest Improvement

For the first month of 2016, metal prices seemed to improve or stabilize for the most part. Gold moved $58.60 per ounce (oz) higher to $1,127.10/oz. Even though platinum was only down $15/oz, palladium was down $63/oz to $496/oz, an 11.3% decrease. Iron ore improved $3.50/dry metric ton (dmt) to $44/dmt. Base metals were relatively flat, except for zinc, which posted a $140.50/mt improvement of 9.2%.

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Rough Diamond Prices Remain Under Pressure

Rough diamond prices will remain under pressure over the next 12-18 months. Prices dropped by about 18% during the first 11 months of 2015 due to slowing sales of diamond jewelry, according to Moody’s Investors Service. This latest drop in prices, which would be 28% below the 2014 peak, may be insufficient to revive demand, and the analysts said producers may have to cut costs (reduce prices) even more in 2016.

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