Why Do Copper Prices Fluctuate?

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Copper Pricing

January 12th, 2017 - As one of the oldest metals put to use by humans, copper has been utilized for over 10,000 years. A copper pendant unearthed in what is now northern Iraq has been dated to about 8700 B.C. Since copper was the only metal known to people for nearly five millennia, it was used for all metal applications.

But copper hasn’t lost its shine as still today, it is the third most used metal in the world (behind iron and aluminum usage). Why so? Due to copper’s high versatility, conductivity, and electrical properties, 60% of copper is used in electrical wire and cable and electronic goods and connectivity applications.

As copper is an integral part of Northwire’s quality industrial cable, medical wire, military grade wire, and a variety of cable applications, copper prices are included on Northwire.com and reported twice a month within NWI’s eCurrent newsletter. (Sign up to receive your eCurrent newsletter featuring copper price updates.) Fluctuating copper prices are experienced throughout the year due to numerous factors which include:


When a surplus of copper exists and the supply exceeds the demand, prices fall and when a situation occurs that reduces the availability of copper, a price hike will be experienced – just as is the case with most commodities.

Supply Disruptions:

Any disruptions in mining (or the speculation of disruptions) in a specific region can affect global copper prices significantly. Natural disasters such as landslides in mining locales are quite common as well as the striking of mine workers. Variables with weather, the time of the year, political instability, or transportation issues can reduce regional supplies and elevate copper pricing.

Speculative Predictions, Market Chatter, and Trading Considerations:

An immediate rise or fall in price is often experienced when reputable sources make copper price predictions. As a result, trading activities to either acquire new or protect existing copper investments take place. Copper futures additionally drive forward investments, project development, and the number of companies engaged in the copper industry. Hedge funds with a commodity focus can also increase short-term instability for copper prices through large purchases or sales.

Market Demand:

The urbanization in emerging markets such as China and India has resulted in a recent trend of spiked increase in copper demand. Populations moving into urban areas increase the need for residential housing, industrial construction, and transportation systems which all place new demands on copper resources.

Both the United States and China are leading buyers of copper and as a result, the economic climate of both can influence pricing for most commodities.

Production Costs:

Fluctuating extraction overhead has an effect on copper pricing as well and includes such factors as labor wages, cost efficient mining processes, government tax rates and regulations, and inflation levels.

Beware of Counterfeits!

In order to cut costs, unethical wire manufacturers and cable distributors may try to replace quality copper with cheaper substitutions. While this counterfeit wire and cable is crafted to appear as copper cable, it is really made with lower cost iron alloys. As a result, it is critical to source cable and wire from only quality cable manufacturers as counterfeit cable is extremely dangerous to installers, occupants of buildings, and the environment and comes with high risk of fire, electrocution, toxic smoke, poor signal integrity, slow network speed, and excessive downtime – making the cheaper counterfeit cable extremely costly and high risk!

Good news! You can benefit from Northwire’s USA made cable and 44+ year reputation of integrity within the cable engineering industry.