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Copper prices have surged about 20% this year but strong demand from China and a tight supply situation makes this among the top bets in the industrial metals space.
In a Barclays Capital survey of hedge funds and institutional investors at its annual commodity conference, most investors voted copper as the commodity that will perform best in 2011.
"We are already at highs but supply is still tight and I don't see how we are going to boost supply in the short-term. And by short-term I mean the next two to three years," says Adrian Day.
"Copper and tin are set to hit all time highs next year, making them our picks from the base metals complex," Barclays Capital noted in its commodity outlook. "Copper fundamentals continue to tighten, mine supply remains constrained and global demand is coming in above expectations."
Copper prices have the potential to go past $10,000 a ton, according to Norrish, as copper stocks fall to new lows in 2011.
Fears of a slowdown in China as it counters higher inflation have been weighing on the outlook for industrial metals, but analysts believe the fears are overdone. "These are not fresh concerns. They have [cropped up] many times over the year. What we have learned is that China can manage its economy pretty well," Norrish of Barclays Capital said at a media briefing.
"As long as China's economy does not stop growing (stop, not slow down), demand is going to be strong," says Day.
How to Trade: Investors seeking a broader exposure to industrial metals to play on the recovery can consider the
PowerShares DB Base Metals ETF(DBB). The ETF provides exposure to aluminum, zinc and copper. There is also a copper ETF,
iPath Dow Jones UBS Copper ETF(JJC),
But Day still prefers
Freeport McMoRan(FCX - Get Report) as the best way to play the boom in copper. The largest publicly traded copper miner is up 40% year to date, but makes for good buying on dips, according to the analyst.