- Copper is often used as a barometer for the health of the global economy.
- Naturally, Jim Cramer’s interest was naturally piqued when the red metal made a big breakout to the upside recently.
“Copper’s strength is part of the traditional metrics that define economic growth and it can be a part of the rational justification for what so many believe is an irrational rally,” the “Mad Money” host said.
When demand for copper increases, that means industrial activity is on the rise because copper is used to make a wide array of things from new factories, to new houses and automobiles.
However, Cramer did note that he doesn’t know if demand has increased because there have been major production cuts, which could signal the jump is supply driven rather than due to stronger demand.
To get the real deal on what the charts predict for the future of copper, Cramer spoke with technician Ed Ponsi, who is the managing director of Barchetta Capital Management and colleague at RealMoney.com.
With copper at a 12-month high and major stock indices at all-time highs, Ponsi found that history tends to make powerful moves when both stocks and copper move together.
“It is not a crystal ball. However, those who ignore history are doomed not to profit from it, so it would be a mistake to ignore copper’s latest move,” Cramer said.
What the market really loves is increased demand for copper, and most factors seem to be supply related, unfortunately. Workers are on strike at BHP Billiton‘s Escondida mine in Chile, the largest copper mine in the world. Freeport-McMoRan also cut production at its Grasberg copper mine, the third largest in the world.
However, there was one element that Ponsi thinks could be very bullish. China consumes nearly 50 percent of the world’s copper, so when its economy is on the rise, the price of copper tends to soar.
Looking at the weekly chart of copper going back to 2008, from the bottom in 2009 to the peak near 2011, the price of copper nearly tripled. Ponsi noted this was largely driven by China.
For the first time in years, there are bullish signals coming from China’s economy, as according to last week’s positive trade balance figures, exports are up 7.9 percent in January and imports up 16.7 percent.
Ponsi thinks the strength in copper could be great news for both the global economy and for U.S. stocks in particular.
“I am still a bit skeptical because if copper is only rallying because of tighter supply … then that is a lot less significant for economies around the globe,” Cramer said.
However, by traditional measures of economic strength, copper’s rally could mean good things for the future of the stock market.
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