Jun 27, 2022 - Economy

Copper prices down sharply this month

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Copper prices are down sharply this month, yet another sign that the outlook for global growth is softening, especially in China.

  • Futures prices for the metal — used in the wires in everything from cars to houses to electronics — are down roughly 13% this month.

Why it matters: Copper prices are widely seen as offering a useful reading on the health of global industry, especially China's factory and construction-heavy domestic economy. Lower prices are traditionally viewed as a sign of softness.

  • The downturn in copper confirms other indicators of weakness in the world's second-largest economy, which has been hard hit by COVID-related lockdowns in massive economic centers like Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Let's nerd out: Markets geeks sometimes refer to the metal as "Dr. Copper," in reference to its supposed acumen at calling economic turning points, something actual Ph.D. economists are notoriously bad at.

The bottom line: The global economy seems to be slowing, which could take some of the pressure off of supply chains — and by extension prices, such as those of copper.

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