Copper’s teeter near marginal output cost sparks fears

Dec 09, 2008 | 11:46 AM | Anne Riley

Copper prices teetered around the $3,100-a-tonne mark, about the marginal cost of production for some smelters, according to Barclays Capital Plc, London, renewing concerns among industry players that slumping prices might plow right through formerly reliable pricing supports.

"Marginal costs in this kind of environment aren't offering much in terms of support. I think you probably will see prices break down to $3,000 a tonne," Barclays analyst Gayle Berry said Tuesday, calling that point "an important psychological number for the market."

Although a handful of copper projects have already been taken off-stream this fall, as metal prices have lost more than half their value compared with summer highs, analysts said a slew of additional cutbacks are still in store if prices don't hold at the marginal cost of production.....

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