The slumping price of copper is signalling trouble ahead for the economy. But investors in the base metal or related stocks should keep their eyes on the long-term case here: Copper’s importance to renewable energy should get it through this setback.
Things are grim right now, of course. The price of copper slipped below US$4 a pound this week, to an intraday low of US$3.64 early Friday, for the first time in more than 16 months. That marks a decline of more than 25 per cent from its recent high in March, and it underscores copper’s reputation for signalling economic trouble.
It’s known as Dr. Copper for a reason: Since the metal has many critical uses in communications, technology and infrastructure, the fluctuating price can serve as a useful indicator of broad economic activity, turning a base-metal commodity into an economist.
Investors have turned to copper in recent years as a far more specific bet on addressing climate change. Copper is essential for electrical conductivity in renewable energy systems, including wind and solar power. And electric vehicles use far more copper than traditional cars
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