Signs that metals prices have bottomed out buoys miners – by Ian McGugan and Brent Jang (Globe and Mail – March 2, 2016)

Ivan Glasenberg is feeling better about the outlook for metals prices – and this time he may be right.

The chief executive officer of Glencore PLC, the giant miner and trader, indicated on Tuesday that he is growing more upbeat about commodities after a brutal 2015 in which his company lost 70 per cent of its market value as raw materials prices plummeted. “Have we bottomed? I think so,” he told reporters.

To be sure, that is pretty much the positive sentiment you would expect any mining chief to spout during one of the most brutal downturns in decades. But this time around, Mr. Glasenberg’s optimism may have the additional virtue of being true.

No one is calling for any immediate bounce-back in metals prices. However, it is at long last possible to detect early signs of a bottom.

After five years in which prices kept sinking lower, there is now tentative evidence that the market is finally finding firmer footing.

One encouraging sign is evidence of supply cuts in some key markets, most notably a decision this week by the Chinese government to lay off 1.3 million workers in the coal sector in an attempt to curb overcapacity. Another positive indicator is the recent bounce in the shares of some of the miners that were most hard hit in 2015.

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