By Shihoko Goto- Exclusive to Copper Investing News

The price of copper to tumbled with concerns about Europe's inability to take concrete steps to resolve its debt crisis intensified as a scheduled finance ministers'  meeting Wednesday was abruptly canceled.

On Tuesday, copper dropped on disappointment over the political deadlock regarding the Eurozone, amid speculation that bank recapitalization issues cannot be decided before other elements of any rescue package. The red metal also took a hit from profit-taking by investors who wanted to take advantage of the red metal's gains over the past three sessions.

Tuesday's benchmark December COMEX contract lost 2.85  cents to end at $3.407 a pound.

Europe's heads of state will still meet Wednesday, but it was the  finance ministers who had been expected to outline a plan that will reduce Greece's debt level, and recapitalize the continent's banks. With their meeting canceled, talks of increasing the available funds from the European Financial Stability Facility to provide partial insurance for sovereign bonds will be put on hold as well. As a result, concerns are growing that it will take even longer for member nations to unite in coming up with a viable solution to the debt crisis.

Still, there are glimmers of hope from Asia as China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security spokesman Yin Chengji said Tuesday that the country's rate of job creation in the third quarter was the strongest in several years. Expectations of China leading global copper demand rose too as BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) said that the country has been able to sustain economic growth even amid the persisting global economic downturn. Speaking at a business forum in Perth Wednesday, BHP's Chief Commercial Officer Alberto Calderon said that countries including China, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico were “in the very early stages of large-scale industrialization and are growing at a rate of almost three times their developed counterparts."

Still, not all are as upbeat about China's outlook. Investment group BlackRock (NYSE: BLK) reported caution as China's dependence on credit has almost doubled over the past decade, the country's growth prospects will weaken and lead to lower returns for investors.

For now, though, the steady rise in the price of copper on the back of an expected upturn in the global economy  is leading shares in mining companies to gain momentum. Freeport- McRoRan Copper and Gold (NYSE: FCX), for instance, rose as Barron's reported Monday that it is now a “gleaming buying opportunity” for bargain-hunters.  The news group said that shares could rise as high as $75 over the next few years if copper reaches $4 per pound.

As for Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN), speculation is growing that the copper and gold explorer will be a takeover candidate by March. Ivanhoe, however, has been in arbitration with Rio Tinto (LON: RIO), but once that is cleared, traders expect it will be easier for Ivanhoe CEO Robert Friedland to sell the company. The two companies are joint partners in Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi copper project that has an estimated 81 billion pounds of the red metal, as well as 46 million ounces of gold. Ivanhoe currently holds 66 percent of total shares in Oyu Tolgoi. Rio Tinto, meanwhile, has a 49 percent stake in Ivanhoe, but the two companies are in arbitration as Ivanhoe adopted a shareholder rights plan last year and Ivanhoe argues that Rio Tinto broke an agreement not to discuss selling a stake in Ivanhoe. Rio Tinto cannot make a hostile bid for Ivanhoe until an agreement expires on January 18, 2012.

Meanwhile, Vancouver-based junior miner Cascadero Copper (TSXV: CCD) has an option deal to earn a 100 percent interest in the Powerline gold prospect near Sudbury, Ontario. The agreement provides for cash, shares, and an exploration commitment over the next four years.

But as copper prices have nearly doubled over the past two years, the black market for the red metal has flourished, and government officials continue to fret over how to stop dealers from buying stolen copper.  The crime wave from copper looting has cost Britain at least one billion pounds this year alone as gangs continue to strip copper from industrial cables, according to the Mirror. There is growing pressure upon legislators to take firm action, especially as the 1964 Scrap Metal Dealers Act is seen as inadequate to deal with the current situation as industry experts call for scrap dealers to be licensed and ban cash trading, in addition to empowering police to shut down rogue traders.


Disclosure: I, Shihoko Goto, have no interest in the companies mentioned in this article.


Copper Drops on Canceled EU Finance Ministers' Meeting from Copper Investing News