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Copper Update: Don’t Forget About Labor

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Copper Update: Don’t Forget About Labor

While the world watches to see who blinks first in the trade war and tariff tiff between the United States and China, the copper industry is being fueled by the potential of a good, old-fashioned labor dispute.

Copper prices bounced back slightly in overnight trading Tuesday morning, boosted by concerns over possible disruptions to supply from the world’s largest copper mine.

According to Reuters, negotiations between workers and management at Chile’s Escondida mine are deadlocked without signs of progress towards an agreement a little more than a week before the current labor contract expires.

“Unions at the Escondida copper mine said that negotiations with management had broken down and that an agreement did not look likely before next week’s deadline,” ANZ said in a note. “This could see the mine suffer another strike-related disruption.”

Interests Rates

While the labor issue carries on in Chile, copper investors will remain focused on the dollar this week after comments by President Trump on interest rates stalled a rally in the greenback last week. President Trump launched an attack on the Federal Reserve late Thursday, claiming their plans to raise U.S. interest rates risked undermining his efforts at strengthening the economy.

President Trump kicked it up a notch on Friday, taking to Twitter to claim that tighter monetary policy was penalizing the U.S. by contributing to a stronger dollar. He also accused China and the European Union of currency and interest-rate manipulation that he claims has put the U.S. at a disadvantage.

The market fluctuated with the dollar, pushing the red metal up 2.06% on Friday, trimming its losses for the week to 0.87%. Copper dipped to $2.6695 per pound last week, the lowest level since July 2017. It opened this morning at $2.76. Click the image below for the latest copper prices.

U.S and China Continue Tit-for-Tat Tariff Talks

The buck doesn’t stop there. As you have probably already heard, President Trump has stated he is prepared to slap tariffs on ALL Chinese imports to the U.S., worth around $500 billion per year, escalating a trade conflict even further.

“Over the past few weeks, the prices of many commodities have moved to new lows for 2018,” states frequent tED contributor Andrew Hecht of Seeking Alpha. “The bottom line is that commodities are under pressure as the odds of a trade war mount. If the President and Fed can line up to counter the Chinese intransigence on the trade issue, the most populous nation in the world could realize that there are $500 billion reasons for them to compromise and reach an agreement with the United States.

“I believe that a solution will come sometime in September or October via a Trump-Xi summit on the economy,” concludes Hecht. “The biggest relief rallies will likely come in the commodities markets that took the brunt of selling over recent weeks.”

Looking Ahead

Investors will also be looking ahead to Friday’s U.S. GDP report to see how the economy performed in the second quarter. The data is expected to show that growth rebounded in the three months to June, boosted by an increase in consumer spending.

Here is a look ahead at events likely to affect the markets the rest of week, as compiled by Investing.com.

Monday, July 23

The U.S. released data on existing home sales.

Tuesday, July 24

The euro zone is to release data on manufacturing and service sector activity.

Wednesday, July 25

New Zealand is to release trade data.

Australia is to produce data on consumer price inflation.

The Ifo Institute is to report on German business climate.

The U.S. is to release data on new home sales.

Thursday, July 26

The ECB is to announce its latest monetary policy decision. The announcement is to be followed by a press conference with President Mario Draghi.

The U.S. is to release reports on durable goods orders and initial jobless claims.

Friday, July 27

The U.S. is to round up the week with preliminary data on second-quarter growth and a revised look at consumer sentiment.

Further Reading

Here’s What Will Stop Copper from Plunging

Metals Traders Look to 2015 Playbook as China Fears Return

What’s behind the metals price rout, and is it over now?

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Jim Williams

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