LONDON, Sept. 9 -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. raised its forecasts for most industrial metals prices as a recovery in the world economy reduces spare capacity and boosts output costs.
Copper for delivery in three months will climb to $7,650 a metric ton by end-2010, from a prior forecast of $5,800, analysts Jeffrey Currie, Janet Kong and Allison Nathan wrote in a report e-mailed today. Prices of the metal used in cars and pipes more than doubled this year as government spending programs revived automobile production.
"Investor expectations about continued future economic growth will support prices across base metals as spare capacity gradually disappears and the cost of production steadily climbs," they wrote. "We remain most constructive on copper."
The London Metal Exchange index of six industrial metals has risen 69 percent this year, driven by lead and copper, after a record slump of 49 percent in 2008. China, the world's largest consumer of metals from aluminum to zinc, increased overseas purchases of copper to a record level in the first half.
China's copper stockpiles, including purchases by the nation's State Reserve Bureau, totaled about 590,000 tons in the first seven months of the year, Goldman Sachs estimates.
Supply of the metal will outpace demand by 178,000 tons this year, a narrowing from the surplus of 706,000 tons in 2008, the bank said. The market will switch to a production shortfall of 88,000 tons in 2010, according to the forecast.
Goldman is "least constructive" on aluminum and nickel, the report said, adding the metals' excess production capacity is enough to satisfy a recovery in demand. The analysts still raised forecasts on the metals because of rising output costs.
Aluminum will gain to $2,050 a ton, from a prior forecast of $1,950, and nickel will climb to $18,800 a ton, compared with the previous estimate of $15,200, according to the report. The analysts forecast an aluminum surplus of 1.78 million tons for the year, a decline from the 2008 oversupply of 2.27 million. This will shrink to 622,000 tons in 2010, they said.
The zinc forecast was lowered to $2,170 a ton, from $2,600, because of "a large Chinese supply," Goldman said.