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Copper, on a red-hot winning streak, is testing a critical level

As we wrap up this year and look ahead to 2018, many investors are focused on how strong global growth might be next year. This consensus is looking for strong growth, with U.S. tax cuts leading the way, though certainly not the exclusive catalyst for global economic expansion.

Of course, the consensus can frequently prove wrong; one only has to look back at what the majority thought about the dollar and long-term interest rates this time last year ("They have to move higher!") or what the majority thought about oil last June ("It has to go lower!") to see how wrong the masses can be at times.

With China re-engaging in its deleveraging process, it's no certainty that global growth in 2018 will be as strong as the herd believes.

With that in mind, copper is traditionally a leading indicator of worldwide growth, and I'll be watching the commodity's price action closely in the coming weeks and months.

Just a few weeks ago, the key commodity was showing signs of weakness, but it has rallied very strongly since Dec. 5. In fact, its 11 percent rally since then has taken it to fresh new highs, back to early 2014.

We do have to point out that this new high is just a slight one, so we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. Just above copper's current levels are the highs from early and mid-2014, an area that represents the 50 percent retracement of the entire sell-off from 2011 highs. Thus, we are approaching some very important resistance levels.

Copper

In other words, if copper can break above that 3.27 to 3.34 range in any meaningful way, this should be very positive for the metal. On the flip side, if copper fails at this level and rolls back over in a significant way, that's going to be quite negative.

Keep in mind that if copper pulls back over the next week, it will not mean that the rally has failed, nor would a slight break above that range mean that a breakout has been confirmed.

Bottom line? There is no question in our mind that copper is at a key technical juncture, and its next significant move should be quite important.

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Sara Eisen

Sara Eisen joined CNBC in December 2013 as a correspondent, focusing on the global consumer. She is co-anchor of the 10AM ET hour of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" (M-F, 9AM-11AM ET), broadcast from Post 9 at the New York Stock Exchange.

In March 2018, Eisen was named co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F, 1PM-3PM ET), which broadcasts from CNBC Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

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