Copper is among the most practical commodities in the world, as the industrial sector relies heavily on the material for a number of uses. Not only does it have wide applications in the industrial world, but the economic space as well. With the nickname “Dr. Copper,” the reddish-brown metal is often used as a proxy for the global economy as a whole, precisely because of the demand created by the industrial world [for more copper news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Metals across the board have suffered steep losses in recent days, with gold’s alarming 9% one-day drop rattling the markets and investor confidence. And while gold remains as one of traders’ top concerns, another metal’s volatile movements has been raising some red flags. Yesterday, copper futures for April delivery tumbled 3.6% to $3.1880 a pound, marking the lowest level since October 2011. The metal has almost dropped 20% from its most recent high, so the probability of copper entering bear territory is quite likely [for more copper news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
The industrial metal space has been struggling to gain traction as of late, as a cloudy forecast for the global economy has left these commodities in limbo. But that was not before many made strong runs in the past decade. According to Bloomberg, “six primary metals more than tripled in the 10 years to 2012.” These highs have started warding off a number of buyers as many fear a slowdown in key markets like China and other emerging economies [for more industrial metal news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
As 2012 draws to an end, investors are taking time to reflect on some of the best and worst performing commodities of the year. Though the year’s headlines have been dominated by energy and precious metals, there are a number of assets that have flown relatively under the radar. Industrial metals are among the most practical commodities on the market given their wide use in our everyday lives, but they rarely receive attention over something like gold or oil. Below, we outline the performances of some of the biggest industrial metals for 2012 [for more industrial metal news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Homebuilders and other housing industry stocks have been strong performers in 2012 as low interest rates offset higher underwriting standards for home loans. The SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB) rose more than 54% since the beginning of this year, while the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction ETF (ITB) is up more than 74% over the same period [for more housing news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
For more than two years now, issuers like JP Morgan and iShares have been battling to bring physically-backed copper ETFs to the markets. At first glance, it seems like a solid idea; after all, GLD and SLV are two of the most popular ETFs in the world, and each of them offers physical exposure to their respective metals. Yet the proposed copper products remain in the doldrums, as the red tape and roadblocks seem to be endless for these proposed products [for more copper news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
As traders try to make their way through the volatile and often dangerous world of commodities, the futures curve is one of the most important aspects to focus on. Many traders look for contangoed curves to either make savvy trades or avoid potential blunders for their portfolio. Contango, the process by which near month futures are cheaper than those expiring further into the future, is often caused by storage costs of hard assets, but can also be a reflection of future price expectations. In this iteration of our contango report, we focus on three key metals for investors to keep an eye on [for more information on commodities in contango subscribe to our free newsletter].
The introduction of commodity ETFs brought trading to a whole new level, as your average retail investor now has the opportunity to trade something like natural gas futures through a single ticker. As the years have gone on, a number of these products have grown to be some of the most widely-used financial instruments for their respective commodity. One advantage to ETFs, however, is that liquidity is not hindered by average volume due the the creation process. Instead, there will just be some funds that are more liquid and tradable than others [for more commodity ETF news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Marc Faber, who shares the moniker “Dr. Doom” with Nouriel Roubini, has made a name for himself not only from his intelligence, but also from his outspoken and often controversial views. Faber has recently predicted a 100% chance of a U.S. economic recession and says that he is simply waiting for things to fail. To put things lightly, he is something of a bear, as he often points out the faults of the economy or singles out failing sectors. It seems as though he has done it again, but this time with industrial commodities, namely industrial metals [for more industrial metals news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, is one of the most famous investors in the world. So when he makes a big bet, there are plenty of individuals who are willing to follow or are at least curious as to whether or not they should do the same. Buffett’s latest bet was placed in the U.S. housing industry, a market segment that has been rattled since 2007 and is still struggling to find a foothold. The famed businessman justified his bet by stating that he has watched every asset class besides housing for the last two years and now that markets have flattened, he sees housing with room to run [see also Why Buffett is Dead Wrong on Gold].