Back in May, I posted an update for copper where I shared my concerns about the possible negative impacts of the cooling Chinese economy. At the same time the technical chart didn’t confirm those concerns and on the contrary, showed a possible upside move for the metal.
In this post, I would like to share some macro economic charts and an update of the technical chart.
Chart 1. Copper Vs China Industrial Production (Monthly)
Copper topped the ranks at the end of last year and moved north to the middle of February without breaking any serious resistance peaking at $2.8230. Then the price drifted lower, closer to the area of the December 2016 low at $2.4480 as projected in my previous update. Copper has now bounced higher and I would like to share with you some new data, which could change my outlook for the metal.
I would like to start from Chinese data as they are the top importer of the metal in the world. China’s copper import dropped almost 20% in 1Q of 2017 according to the Chinese customs statistics and this is not supporting the pricing information. Below are two charts to show you more headwinds from China.
Chart 1. Copper Vs Chinese GDP Growth Rate (Quarterly)
Chart courtesy of tradingeconomics.com
The Chinese economy (left scale, blue) advanced only 1.3 percent in the 1Q of 2017, following a 1.7 percent growth in the previous three months and missing market estimates of a 1.6 percent growth. It has been the weakest expansion since the 1st quarter of 2016. GDP Growth Rate in China averaged 1.84 percent from 2010 until 2017. Continue reading "Copper Could Face Strong Headwinds From China and Australia"→
Despite the Yuan’s value recently plummeting to an eight-year low, the Chinese economy has been rather stable in the second half of 2016, manufacturing PMI held above 50 (above 50 signals expansion); exports reached $196.8 Bln in November(from $176.2 Bln in January); and in industrial production growth averaged 6.14% Year over Year.
Together, these changes all represent a strong indicator of growth - and of bounce-back - and all thanks to the Yuan. Or more accurately, to the Yuan meltdown. Even as the Chinese Yuan shed more than 7.1% this year, it allowed China’s exports to rebound and stabilize industrial and manufacturing production. But all that stability comes at a stiff price, down the line.
While a weaker Yuan helps exporting sectors, it causes problems in China’s domestic economy. In it, an exceptionally weak currency has the same impact as monetary easing, creating an inverse relationship where, when the Yuan’s value is eroded, China’s housing bubble swells.
Chinese policymakers are in the midst of a very delicate maneuver. With a hyped housing market and an unloved stock market, China’s policymakers want the “hot money” from real estate investment to be funneled away from housing and into the stock market. The problem? It won’t be easy and may require sacrificing economic growth, just at the point when growth has begun to stabilize.
The Bubble Returns
For some time now, Beijing has been well aware of the bubbly housing market. In fact, China has experienced two housing slumps in past decade, back in 2011-2012 and in 2014-2015, in both cases, the slump was largely due to the government’s efforts to curb prices in the preceding years. Those efforts were primarily through the implementation of new housing regulations and by clamping down on shadow lending. More importantly, the Chinese government put to good use its main monetary tool, the Yuan. By allowing the Yuan to strengthen, credit became more expensive and, as a result, the hype ended. But the price tag was dear because tightening efforts also resulted in a sharp slowdown in the Chinese economy and a meltdown in the Chinese stock market.
In 2015, the crisis was so severe, in fact, that Chinese policymakers had no choice but to drastically reverse policy by cutting lending rates, intervening in the stock market and, yes, as you might have surmised, devaluing the Yuan. But ironically, just when the easing measures have started to make a real impact, the housing market has once again become overheated and has turned bubbly. Continue reading "Will China Drop The Ball?"→
Chart 1. Crude Oil-Copper Correlation: Gap Widened
Chart courtesy of tradingview.com
Another attempt by oil to close above the psychologically important $50 level (black dashed horizontal line) has failed. This was the third and a good try, and it was after a good correction in July, which makes bulls nervous as they lose their patience. Copper couldn’t keep the correlation gains achieved in July as it didn’t follow the rising crude last month and on the contrary, it moved the opposite way below the $2.2 level. The gap between them widened.