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Copper soars to record as metals surge on Russia supply fears

Metals are breaking new records with copper spiking to an all-time high and nickel surging more than 16%, as soaring energy prices and fears of supply shocks rattled commodities markets amid war in Ukraine.

The White House said it’s talking to allies about a possible oil embargo on Russia, triggering a spike in oil prices and ratcheting up geopolitical risks after its attack on its smaller neighbor. Higher energy prices mean steeper costs for manufacturers including metals smelters, adding to supply threats as commodity traders grapple with sanctions on Moscow.

Copper, used in power cables and wiring, rallied as much as 1.5% to $10 835 a ton, on the London Metal Exchange, beating the previous record high from May last year. Russia is an important producer of copper, and its exports account for some 3.3% of global output, according to JPMorgan & Chase Co.

Aluminum also hit a fresh all-time high with prices hitting $4 000, while nickel surged over $33 000 a ton and palladium soared to a record.

Global copper supply was already under growing stress before President Vladimir Putin ordered his military into Russia’s neighbor. The world’s shift to renewable energies and electric transportation is poised to ramp up the need for copper in coming years — making the market sensitive to any disruptions.

The copper market is “mispricing Russia supply risk,” as prices have had a relatively modest reaction to the tightening risks seen from the invasion of Ukraine, Goldman Sachs Group said in a note on Friday. The bank forecasts prices will rally to a record $12 000 over 12 months.

Meanwhile, policy messages from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s latest National People’s Congress work report are looking positive for base metals and stocks.

Copper rose 1.1% to $10 796 a ton as of 10:07 a.m. in Shanghai, while nickel gained as much as 16% to $33 650, the highest since March 2008. Aluminum surged as much as 3.9% before trading up 3.2% to $3 973. – (Bloomberg)

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