Most of the world isn't watching.
But they should be.
When you have giant private equity firms heatedly bidding on a copper mine, that's huge news by itself...
Add in China - the world's biggest commodities consumer, responsible for 40% of the world's copper demand - vying for the same mine, and you could be looking at an explosive spike in copper... and, of course, in the companies that get it out of the ground.
Most of the world isn't watching.
There is copper hoarding going on in the metals industry, and it's giving two firms all the power and the profits. Here's how they're controlling the market. Read more...
Frank Holmes takes a look at the devastating mine disaster that shut down Bingham Canyon last week and what it means for the red metal. Read more...
Copper prices are up 170% over the past four years - meaning huge profits for anyone who has been investing in copper.
But now many investors are bailing on the red metal. Prices have slipped about 9% this year, and inventories are soaring.
Copper prices hit an eight-month low today (Wednesday) as slowing economic growth has led speculators to take more short positions on the metal.
Copper inventories also appear to signal low demand. Stockpiles of the red metal in the London Metals Exchange are at the highest level since October 2003.
But what appear to be bearish signals for investing in copper are not the case. Here's what investors need to understand...
If you're invested in copper, you've got to know what's happening in China right now - and what it means for copper prices this year. Check this out.
A huge opportunity for copper investing in 2013 could be on the market soon - that is, unless half of the "red metal" industry gets its way.
A group of copper consumers is accusing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of being "arbitrary and capricious" when last month it approved the JPMorgan XF Physical Copper Trust, the first-ever U.S. copper exchange-traded fund (ETF) backed by the metal itself. The fund had a two-year wait for the green light.
The trust initially plans to hold 61,800 metric tons of copper in warehouses worldwide. That is equivalent to about 27% of the copper held in London Metal Exchange's (LME) global network of warehouses.
This strategy of holding physical metal is similar to many of the precious metals ETFs on the market, such as the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE: GLD).
But now many in the copper industry, including fabricators who account for about half of U.S. copper demand, claim the SEC had insufficient evidence to conclude the product would not affect the metal's supply, according to the Financial Times.
The group says the fund would "obviously drive up the price of copper available for immediate delivery and create shortages of such supply," and would remove as much as 30% of the copper available for immediate delivery.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI, also disapproved, saying it would be a "blow to American businesses and consumers" and "allow speculators to create a squeeze on the market."
But the SEC disagrees.
In fact, shortly after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced its decision to launch a third round of bond buying, copper rallied to $3.84 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, up from around $3.35 in mid-August.
But that is only part of the story...
As "the only metal with a Ph.D. in economics' because of its widespread use in industrial applications copper is an excellent bellwether for the state of global economic activity.
And right now copper is predicting a major global rebound.
"Investors' expectations for global economic growth in the fourth quarter are rising and Dr. Copper is rallying," Andrew Rosenberger, senior portfolio manager at Brinker Capital told MarketWatch.
"Copper and other assets which are linked to global growth are taking the approach of rally now, ask questions later," he said.
For investors, there are lots of reasons to like copper right now.
Let's take a look...
For the past year, the positive silver headlines have been few and far between.
Ever since the poor man's gold peaked near $50 in April of last year, it's become a despised metal.
Admittedly, it's been languishing near $27 since early May not far from where it was for the first time - in this bull market - back in late 2010.
But as I'll show you, right now a number of technical, seasonal, and sentiment indicators are pointing upwards for this volatile metal.
This could well be the critical turning point silver investors have been waiting for. One of these indicators is the resilient price of gold.
Let me explain.
The Silver/Gold RatioSilver has always pretty much been gold's lapdog and on a relatively short leash at that.
As a rule, silver prices usually follow the direction of gold. But as long time silver investors recognize, the moves are amplified both on the downside and the upside. Silver prices are simply more volatile than gold prices.
As for gold, since it peaked about a year ago, it seems to be drifting aimlessly in zombie land. For the better part of the year it's been consolidating about 16% below its previous peak of $1,900.
Today, at $1,600, gold is back to levels its first saw a whole year ago. What investors need to pay attention to is the gold to silver ratio.
Glum retail sales numbers released from the Commerce Department on Monday and high initial jobless claims on Thursday fueled optimism of QE3 despite the lack of hints from the central bank chief earlier in the week. But, Bernanke and his team have clearly left the option of QE3 on the table and stand ready to intervene when they see fit.
The markets' recent spate of lackluster financial reports and escalating concerns over the waning global economy are suggesting a pressing need for QE3 - sooner rather than later.
But doing so would mean missing the huge profit opportunities from rising copper prices in 2012.
With uses in both manufacturing and construction, copper remains one of the world's most versatile metals. When economies are doing well, copper prices do well due to increased demand.
Currently, global economic woes are still around us. Greece is still on the fritz, and European uncertainty is weighing on growth - which caused a slip in copper.
Copper prices fell close to $3.00 per pound in September. They've climbed back to around $3.90 per pound, but are still about 18% from where they were a year ago.
The uncertain European outlook has triggered concern for one of its biggest trading partners as well as copper's ultimate buyer: China.
China is the world's biggest producer and consumer of copper, soaking up 40% of the world's supply.
Europe's economic effect on China has led to fear that the Red Dragon is headed for a cool down this year and that the slowed growth will weigh on copper prices.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts Chinese growth to proceed at a rate of 8.2% this year, down a full percentage point from last year's actual growth of 9.2%.
These concerns, however, are overblown - and off the mark. What's actually going on in the Chinese economy and copper market is supporting rising copper prices.
Here's why you, too, should be bullish on copper.
And as she towers 305 feet above Ellis Island, what's Lady Liberty wearing? Copper - 60,000 pounds of it.
Clearly, copper's big in art. It's also a key metal that keeps the world economy humming. Copper consumption has grown at an average annual rate of 4% since 1900.