Investing in ASX 200 copper shares? Here’s the outlook for the red metal in 2023


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S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) copper shares could be in for some healthy tailwinds in 2023 as the price of the red metal is widely tipped to keep marching higher. 

That would certainly be good news for investors in blue-chip copper stocks like Sandfire Resources Ltd (ASX: SFR) and Oz Minerals Limited (ASX: OZL).

What’s happening with the copper price?

The copper price topped US$10,600 in March last year before sliding to lows of US$7,200 in July as soaring inflation and rising interest rates temporarily took the shine off the industrial metal.

2023 has seen the copper price march steadily higher, helping lift the prospects of ASX 200 copper shares.

Year-to-date copper has gained more than 12%, currently trading for US$9,315 per tonne.

That’s helped propel the Sandfire Resources share price to a 20% gain so far in 2023.

Oz Minerals is a bit of a different story, due to the ongoing takeover process with BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP).

With BHP seeking to acquire Oz Minerals via a scheme of arrangement for a cash price of $28.25 per share, the ASX 200 copper share has been trading in a fairly narrow band over the past weeks.

Forecast outperformance could boost ASX 200 copper shares in 2023

Copper is already off to a strong start in 2023.

And according to the latest MLIV Pulse survey, reported by Bloomberg, professional and retail investors alike have pegged copper as “the most likely commodity to outperform when compared to oil, corn and gold”.

Part of that investor bullishness comes from copper’s widespread use in construction activities, with China’s reopening from its zero-COVID forecast to boost demand for the metal.

Copper, a highly conductive metal, is also a vital element in EVs and the broader global march towards electrification.

Goldman Sachs head of commodities research Jeff Currie is among the analysts who believe the copper price will continue to increase in 2023, which would offer support for ASX 200 copper shares.

According to Currie:

Our target end of year is US$11,500…but longer term, we are in line with Trafigura, we see US$15,000 a tonne. You know, there’s a structural imbalance in these markets. You are likely to see peak copper supply in 2024.

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