|High Grade Copper
|$0.0005 per pound ($12.50 per contract)
|10% above or below previous settlement
|Mar, May, Jul, Sep, Dec (H, K, N, U, Z)
|5:00p.m. - 4:00p.m. (Sun-Fri) (RTH 7:10a.m. - 12:00p.m.) (Settles 12:00p.m.) CST
|Value of One Futures Unit
|Value of One Options Unit
|Last Trading Day
|Third last business day of the maturing delivery month
The word copper comes from the name of the Mediterranean island Cyprus that was a primary source of the metal. Dating back more than 10,000 years, copper is the oldest metal used by humans. From the Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt, archeologists recovered a portion of a water plumbing system that had copper tubing in serviceable condition after more than 5,000 years.
Copper is one of the most widely used industrial metals because it is an excellent conductor of electricity, has strong corrosion-resistance properties, and is very ductile. It is also used to produce the alloys of brass (a copper-zinc alloy) and bronze (a copper-tin alloy), both of which are far harder and stronger than pure copper. Electrical uses of copper account for about 75% of total copper usage, and building construction is the single largest market (the average U.S. home contains 400 pounds of copper). Copper is biostatic, meaning that bacteria will not grow on its surface, and it is therefore used in air-conditioning systems, food processing surfaces, and doorknobs to prevent the spread of disease.
Copper futures and options are traded on the London Metal Exchange (LME) and the CME Group. Copper futures are traded on the Shanghai Futures Exchange. The CME copper futures contract calls for the delivery of 25,000 pounds of Grade 1 electrolyte copper and is priced in terms of cents per pound.
Prices - CME copper futures prices (Barchart.com symbol HG) in Q1 of 2022 raced higher and posted an all-time high of $5.0100 per pound in March. Global copper supply concerns sent copper prices soaring after Russia invaded Ukraine, which rattled raw materials markets and prompted many countries to impose bans on Russian commodity exports. Demand for copper was already strengthening amid the global recovery from the pandemic. Copper prices then ratcheted lower and posted a 2-year low of $3.15 per pound in July on concern that record high fuel prices in Europe would push the Eurozone into a recession. In addition, a resurgence of Covid in China kept large swaths of the country locked down with its Covid-zero policy and curbed China's demand for industrial metals. Finally, interest rate hikes by most of the world's central banks during 2022 slowed global growth. Copper prices stabilized in Q4 and moved higher into year-end after China eased some of its Covid restrictions. Copper prices finished 2022 down -14.6% yr/yr at $3.8055 per pound.
Supply - World production of copper in 2022 rose by +3.8% yr/yr to a record 22.000 million metric tons. The largest producer of copper was Chile with 23.6% of the world's production, followed by Peru with 10.0%, China with 8.6%, the U.S. with 5.9%, and Russia with 4.5%. U.S. production of total new copper in 2022 rose by +4.1% yr/yr to 960,000 metric tons, far below the record U.S. production level of 2.140 million metric tons seen in 1998.
Demand - U.S. consumption of refined copper in 2022 rose by +1.7% yr/yr to 1.800 million metric tons. The primary users of copper in the U.S. are wire rod mills, followed by brass mills.
Trade - U.S. exports of refined copper in 2021 rose by +14.7% yr/yr to 47,570 metric tons. U.S. imports of copper in 2021 rose by +35.9% yr/yr to 918,900 metric tons, below the record high of 1.070 million metric tons in 2006.
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