Lombardi: Stock Market Commentary & Forecasts, Financial & Economic Analysis Since 1986

Copper

This metal has been mined for thousands of years. Copper has a very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and has a reddish-orange color. Most copper is mined from large, open-pit mines. Chile is the top mine producer of the metal, followed by the U.S. Copper is used in electrical wires, plumbing, roofing, and various industrial uses in machines. In many instances, copper is used in place of aluminum because it is a better electrical conductor. Since it is waterproof, it has been used as roofing material. The green color of copper occurs when it is oxidized over a long period of time.

Significant Divergence Between Copper Prices and Stock Market Not to Be Ignored

By for Profit Confidential

Two Leading Indicators Warn of a Stock Market TopIn the midst of all the optimism we see towards key stock indices these days, there are two leading indicators that are flashing warning signals. They say, “Be careful, and don’t get caught up in the euphoria.”

Let’s start with the amount of money investors are borrowing to buy stocks…

Margin debt, the amount of money borrowed to purchase stocks, is one of the leading indicators of where key stock market indices will go. Historically, the higher margin debt gets, the more risk for key stock indices. This indicator predicted the top of the stock market in 2007 and the Tech Boom top of 2000.

As it stands, margin debt on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is at its highest point ever recorded—$451 billion. (Source: New York Stock Exchange web site, last accessed March 25, 2014.) Sadly, this fact continues to be ignored by stock advisors. Yes, investors have borrowed almost half a trillion dollars to buy NYSE-listed stocks!

Another key indicator that suggests key stock indices are stretched is copper prices.

Since the beginning of the year, copper prices have plunged lower. What’s interesting about this is that copper prices usually top before the key stock market indices do; they usually bottom before stocks as well. In the chart below, I have plotted copper prices (black line) over the S&P 500 and circled areas where copper has acted as a leading indicator of key stock indices.

SPX S&P 500 Large Cap ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Copper prices topped in 2007 before key stock indices did. Then in 2009, they bottomed out well before the S&P 500, about three months earlier. Then in 2011, … Read More

What the Breakout in the Gold-to-Copper Ratio Is Telling Us

By for Profit Confidential

Copper Flashing a Buy Signal for GoldCopper is considered an industrial metal, used in industries across the board. When copper prices fall, it’s usually an indicator of a slowdown in the global economy. On the contrary, gold bullion isn’t much of an industrial metal; rather, it is used as a hedge against uncertainty in the global economy.

When you look at these two metals together, often referred to as the gold-to-copper ratio, they tell us something very important: the ratio of how many pounds of copper it takes to buy one ounce of gold bullion has long been an indicator of sentiment in the global economy.

If the gold-to-copper ratio is in a downtrend, it means investors are betting on the global economy to grow. In contrast, if it is increasing (if the number of pounds of copper it costs to buy an ounce of gold is rising), it tells us investors are concerned about protecting their wealth in a slowing global economy.

Below, you’ll find a chart of the gold-to-copper ratio.

GOLD - Spot (EOD) Copeer ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Looking at the chart above, it is clear something happened at the beginning of 2014. Investors became very worried. Since the beginning of the year, the gold-to-copper ratio has increased more than 28%—the steepest increase in more than two years.

And the weekly chart of copper prices looks terrible too:

Copper - Spot Proce (EOD) CME ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Copper prices have been trending downward since 2011. In 2013, these prices broke below their 200-day moving average and recently, they broke below a very critical support level at $3.00. While all of this was happening, on the chart, there was also a formation of a … Read More

What the Collapse in Copper Prices Means for Investors

By for Profit Confidential

Why Are Copper Prices CollapsingAlmost daily, there’s a new piece of information coming out about the Chinese economy that suggests economic conditions there are worsening. We see China’s manufacturing sector is contracting and there’s a credit crunch in the making.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story last Friday on the state of the Chinese economy and its rapid decline in growth. It cited Premier Li Keqlang’s warning to investors that China was “likely to see some corporate defaults in debts.” (Source: “China Reports Broad Economic Slowdown,” Wall Street Journal, March 14, 2014.)

The economic slowdown in the Chinese economy is another reason why the U.S. economy will slow down in 2014.

Too often investors forget that China is one of our major trading partners and a significant number of American companies operate in China. If the economic slowdown in the Chinese economy gains strength, then those American companies selling goods to China and those operating there will see their profits shrink.

As the Chinese economy boomed over the past 10 years, the prices of copper and other base metals needed in the building of the country’s infrastructure skyrocketed. Now, with an economic slowdown looming in the air for the Chinese economy, base metal prices, especially copper prices, are sliding lower.

The chart below shows how copper prices have declined significantly since the beginning of 2014.

Copper - Spot Price (EOD) CME ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

How will lower copper prices affect North American investors? Those companies in the U.S. economy that deal with base metals, such as copper, will see their profitability decline; thus, their stock prices will decline.

On a macro scale, the sharp decline in copper … Read More

Why Copper Prices Are Collapsing

By for Profit Confidential

Economic Growth Falls to 2009 LevelCopper prices are collapsing, a sign that manufacturing activity in the global economy is slowing.

The chart below shows copper prices are down more than five percent so far this year. Notice the steep decline in copper prices starting this January.

Copper is a major commodity used as a material ingredient in a wide variety of manufactured goods. If copper prices are declining, which means demand is falling, we get an early indication that manufacturers are producing less because customer demand is soft.

At the same time, in another startling development, the Baltic Dry Index (BDI), the next chart below, has collapsed 50% from the beginning of the year.

Copper - Spot Price (EOD) Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

The BDI basically tracks shipping prices of raw materials in the global economy. When the BDI declines, it means fewer goods are being shipped in the global economy, a sign that the worldwide economy is slowing.

Baltic Dry Index (EOD) Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Last but not least, as we have been hearing in the news, the emerging markets in the global economy are in trouble.

Manufacturers in the global economy, not being able to sell enough to developed countries like the U.S. and Europe, were hoping to sell more of their goods to once “fast”-growing emerging markets. But now, economic growth in these countries is slowing, too.

Russia, one of the major emerging markets in the global economy, reported its 2013 economic growth rate was the lowest since 2009! The Russian Federal Statistics Service said the economy grew by 1.3% in 2013 compared to 3.4% in 2012. (Source: Bloomberg, January 31, 2014.)

Other emerging markets like India and China have … Read More

My Early Insights on the Big Stock Market Winners in 2014

By for Profit Confidential

Reviewing the Year in StocksThis past year will be forgettable for those investors who stayed loyal to the metals: gold, silver, and copper.

Gold lost its luster with very little as far as global inflation, no major uprising in the Middle East, and the stock market delivering impressive returns. At this juncture, despite gold’s recent bounce to the $1,240-an-ounce range, I continue to advise looking elsewhere at this time, as I doubt gains will be sustainable. Traders could buy on weakness down to $1,200 and sell on rallies towards $1,240. That’s the only way you’re going to make money in gold at this time. (Read “Should Investors Hold Out for $1,300-an-Ounce Gold Before Investing?”)

Silver followed gold lower, but could rally should the economic renewal continue to pick up steam. Trade silver if you feel the global economy is recovering. The same goes for copper.

In contrast, the big winner in the stock market this year was the solar sector, which surged about 164%, according to data from Barchart.com. Yet while the gains have been impressive, you don’t want to be chasing the gains higher, due to the extreme volatility of solar stocks in the stock market at this time.

If you are looking for solar opportunities in the stock market, stick with companies in the United States and Canada. The “Best of Breed” in this sector is probably large-cap First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ/FSLR), a developer of solar hardware that converts the sun’s rays into electricity. But if you are searching for smaller companies, consider checking out SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ/SPWR) on the mid-cap side and Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ/CSIQ) on the small-cap front. A … Read More

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