Metals surge takes copper through $8,000 a tonne

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The Independent Online

The copper price burst through the $8,000-a-tonne mark for the first time yesterday as speculators also pushed zinc, nickel and platinum to new records.

Copper surged as much as 3.8 per cent to hit $8,110 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange, prompting analysts to pencil in targets of as high as $10,000.

"It is impossible to gauge where copper's upward spiral will stop, but for now, it is likely to be higher still," Edward Meir, a metals analyst at Man Financial, said.

Copper, which is used in wiring, tubing and coins, has gained about 85 per cent this year, compared with the 8.6 per cent gain by the Dow and 8.2 per cent by the FTSE 100.

Prices have been driven up by soaring demand, particularly due to the industrial revolution in China, and supply constraints. Demand from China has risen to 23 per cent of world production and since 2002 it has been the world's largest consumer.

Yesterday there was speculation that Grupo Mexico would close its copper, silver and zinc mine in the state of Zacatecas because of a strike by miners, which has hit production. On Tuesday Chile's Los Pelambres copper mine, owned by Antofagasta, said it expected to produce 319,000 tonnes of copper this year, down 4.4 per cent from last year.

Other commodities have also rocketed higher. Zinc and platinum hit record highs, aluminium a new 18-year peak and gold a 25-year high of $704.50 an ounce.

Crude oil prices rose after the US Energy Department said petrol consumption rose last week to its highest level this year. Traders shrugged off a separate report showing an increase in stocks of crude and petrol.