Earlier Monday in our Morning Lineup post, we highlighted the recent short-term weakness in gold just days after it hit all-time highs. While the declines are disheartening for gold bulls, they can take comfort in the fact that at least gold has been doing better than copper.
Copper prices rallied in the second half of 2022, but that rally stalled out in early January at just over $4.30 per pound, below its highs from last May. Since then, prices have experienced little in the way of positive momentum, falling below both the 50-DMA and 200-DMA. Copper is now down over 15% from its YTD high, and it’s testing the bottom of its longer-term uptrend channel.
On a five-year basis, you can see again how copper prices are currently testing a long-term uptrend after carving out a downtrend that has been shorter-term in length.
A look at the relative strength of copper is where the relationship between the two commodities really gets interesting. From May 2018 through May 2020, copper prices consistently underperformed gold, and this was a period that included what was a US manufacturing slowdown ahead of what became a full-blown economic shutdown during COVID. As governments and central banks flooded the economy with stimulus, the roles of copper and gold completely reversed, and in the span of under a year erased two years of underperformance. Then, from late February 2021 through June 2022, the two commodities performed roughly in line with each other as there was little movement in the relative strength of the two commodities.
In the first half of 2022 as the FOMC started ratcheting up the rate hikes, copper started to lose ground versus gold, and just in the last few weeks, copper’s relative strength has dropped to its lowest level since the start of 2021! If copper’s performance is a sign of the strength or weakness in the global economy, someone better start heating up the chicken soup.
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