Jan 31, 2020 - Economy & Business

Copper is on life support

Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

The price of copper fell for a record 12th straight session on Thursday, falling to its lowest price on the New York Mercantile Exchange since September and its lowest on the London Metal Exchange since October.

Why it matters: Known as Dr. Copper, the metal is seen as a barometer of the economy's health because of its use in homebuilding and commercial construction.

  • Analysts said the continued weakness in copper was a major warning sign for global markets.

The big picture: Prices for copper, crude oil and other commodities are falling based on fear that the coronavirus outbreak will hurt demand from China, the world's top commodities importer.

  • Factories outside of Wuhan have pushed back plans to reopen after the Lunar New Year holiday to Feb. 10.

Yes, but: "Economic activity in China is suffering, though in terms of manufacturing and construction activity we are at a seasonally low point," Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke told Reuters.

  • "Typically, when we have this sort of short-term shock, there’s catch-up potential for economic activity once the situation normalizes."

Go deeper: Gold has been 2020's star asset

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Coronavirus fears slam the stock market

Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Stocks saw the worst sell-off in months on Friday: the Dow Jones Industrials Average dropped 603 points (2.1%), while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq declined 1.7% and 1.5%, respectively.

Why it matters: Despite a few jitters, the stock market had until now mostly brushed off fears about the coronavirus (the bond market, though, has not) as stellar earning results from big names like Apple, Microsoft and Amazon took center stage.

Oil markets may be overly spooked by coronavirus' energy impact

Two pedestrians in Jiangtan Park on Jan. 27 during the lockdown in Wuhan, China. Photo: Getty Images

Some analysts are beginning to wonder if oil markets are overly spooked by the potential for the coronavirus to dent energy demand as travel and economic activity are crimped.

Why it matters: The human health toll is what matters most, with at least 107 people dead so far. But the coronavirus is also rattling markets, and is arriving when the oil market was already awash in supplies and demand growth was modest.

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020

Crude oil prices fall to 3-month low over coronavirus fears

Pedestrians wearing face masks cross a road in Hong Kong on Jan. 27. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Crude oil prices fell to their lowest levels in over three months Monday as traders weigh how much the spread of the coronavirus will eat into demand because travel and economic activity is curtailed.

Why it matters: The sharp drop, which follows declines last week, shows how the spreading virus is rippling through global markets.

Go deeperArrowJan 27, 2020