Copper gallops to record high

Copper touched an all time high of $10,000 per tonne on Thursday, vaulting as investors piled in against the backdrop of supply shortages and strong demand.

Benchmark prices on the London Metal Exchange struck the record in early trading before easing to around $9,905 in the afternoon. The rally comes on the heels of the news that the London-listed Chilean miner Antofagasta had failed to meet its already reduced copper output target for last year.

The slight shortfall reinforced concerns about an overall copper market deficit in 2011, with a recent survey pointing to a supply-demand mismatch of as much as 444,000 tonnes this year.

With supplies running low, prices were also driven higher by optimism regarding the US economy – the world's second largest copper consumer – ahead of the release of unemployment figures this afternoon.

Recent data from China, which accounts for some 40 per cent of global copper demand, added to the cheer, with figures from the country's manufacturing sector pointing to a moderate slowdown that is unlikely to materially dampen the emerging giant's appetite for industrial metal.