Copper, a favorite of the wire and cable industry, possesses excellent electrical conductivity and finds widespread use as an electrical conductor in everyday wire and cable products. Copper has even become the world’s third most widely used metal. Due to a number of influencing factors, including demand, the price of copper has risen dramatically over the past few years.
Concerns with copper are not isolated to the U.S., but have developed into an international concern across a number of markets. Since the price of copper directly affects the price of electrical wire and cable, those involved in the industry, suppliers and customers alike, are affected by any fluctuation in copper prices.
In order to closely follow changes, the wire and cable industry looks to outside sources for accurate pricing information. The two primary indexes used in determining the cost of copper industry have been the COMEX Copper Index and the Omega-Camden Copper Index. Although the two differ slightly, both indexes continually remain reliable resources.
You may have read about COMEX copper prices in national publications such as the New York Times or American Metal Market. Lines like, “Copper prices rise on the COMEX Division of the Mercantile Exchange,” are not uncommon. The COMEX (Commodities Exchange) draws public attention as a division of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), which is a worldwide physical commodity futures exchange. In the COMEX Division, metals like gold, silver and high-grade copper futures are traded.
COMEX manages the trading of copper as a commodity with commercial value by means of a daily settlement price. The prices are recorded on the COMEX Copper Index, which keeps track of all settlement prices. Copper futures on the COMEX Division are used by copper market participants for investment purposes. The future prices listed on the index reflect where copper prices appear to be headed based on the present opinion of the marketplace. The opinions and direction of the prices on the index can change abruptly.
Like the COMEX Copper Index, the Omega-Camden Copper Index plays a role in determining the cost of copper in the wire and cable industry. The Omega-Camden copper base, formerly known as the Camden copper base, is a point of reference for wire and cable prices. The Omega-Camden Index records and measures whether copper prices are increasing or decreasing. The Omega-Camden copper index is supplied by International Wire (IMG), whose products include a broad range of copper wire.
Unlike the daily changes of the COMEX Copper Index, the Omega-Camden Index is only updated twice a month. Another difference is that prices on the Omega-Camden copper index take into consideration transportation costs. The Omega-Camden base may be fifteen to twenty cents higher per pound than COMEX prices as a result of the added cost. COMEX’s copper price reflects only the price as produced at the mine. It does not include additional production costs.
With the current volatility of prices, the COMEX and Omega-Camden Copper Indexes have become valuable tools to the wire and cable industry. COMEX is helpful because it is updated on a daily basis and predicts future prices. The Omega-Camden Index is useful because it considers added costs. Both provide a deeper understanding of one of the industry’s biggest concerns – the ever-fluctuating cost of copper.