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TheStreet Open House

Copper Rally May Not Last

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Copper's rally may be short-lived as the macro picture with regards to the eurozone crisis and China's tightening measures becomes more prominent. Moreover, China's dependence on Europe for exports may turn out to be a negative for the country.

Another factor that may play a spoilsport for copper prices is China's Property Index. According to Bloomberg, there is a high degree of correlation between the Chinese property market and copper prices, as the country accounts for 27% of world copper demand.

Copper for July delivery rose 8.8 cents, or 3% on Monday, to settle at $2.992 a pound. It made it above $3 a pound earlier in the session.

The Shanghai Property Index consisting of Chinese developer stocks, which has determined movements in copper prices in the past, is falling. This is reflected in a 70% drop in property sales during May. Moreover, property prices have gone up by 12.4%, signaling further tightening from the government, going forward.

Copper has fallen 18% from highs of $7,990 recorded in April. This decline has not only had an impact on copper stocks, but also the metal's ETF. First Trust ISE Global Copper Index Fund (CU), an ETF that invests in copper miners such as Southern Copper (SCCO), BHP Billiton (BHP) and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) among others, has lost 21% during the same period.

Freeport and Southern Copper to Benefit

The Chilean mining industry stands to benefit from the stir the proposed Resource Super Profits Tax of 40% is causing miners in Australia, Chile's Mining Minister Laurence Golborne told reporters Friday. The tax is applicable to projects that have a rate of return in excess of 6%.

"The situation in Australia is a tremendous opportunity for Chile, if we can offer the mining sector stability and tranquility. Let them know that our tax schemes are stable over time," Golborne said. Chile contributes more than a third of world copper production.

The new proposal, the copper-royalty bill, put forward by the Chilean government has a variable tax rate, between 3.5% and 9% during 2010 and 2011, depending on the copper miner's sales margins and copper prices. The tax rate would fall back to 4% from 2012 to 2017.

Miners such as Freeport-McMoRan and Southern Copper who have their operations in the region may be key beneficiaries from this development.

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