Industrial metals prices have rallied sharply this year as the impact of a stronger global economy has also been joined by surging demand linked to the rapid take-up of electric vehicles.
At the same time, limited supply of certain industrial metals has also been a factor in driving up prices.
Copper is just one of the industrial metals that has been on the front foot this year. Given its status as a good conductor of electricity but having a wide variety of applications, from cooking pots to copper piping for plumbing, the metal traditionally tends to rise when the global economy accelerates. Copper has jumped by around 47% over the past year.
While stronger performance from the Chinese and global economy at least partly explains the upturn in prices, copper is also being driven up by electric cars.
Its property as a conductor means that an increasing amount of the metal looks set to feed the inevitable further strong rise in demand for electric vehicles over the coming years.
On some estimates, the higher production of electric cars and their charging units could lift demand for the metal by as much as 25%.
Copper is also geographically scarce, so demand appears set to increasingly outstrip supply.
Cobalt has seen especially sharp price action over the past year, having risen by around 120%. It is being viewed as one of the major beneficiaries of the world´s increasing move towards electric vehicles.
So much so, however, that some in the industry have expressed concern that continued strong price appreciation could see electric car makers look for substitutes.
Leading car manufacturers have been scrambling to secure adequate long-term supplies of the metal, a seemingly unenviable task given that much of the world´s supply is dependent on mines located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that is widely viewed as politically unstable.
Prices could rise even further in the short-term, with the demand for cobalt as a main ingredient in electric vehicle batteries forecast to grow fourfold by 2020, and around tenfold by 2025.
In contrast to many other industrial metals, the recent upturn in steel prices has been greeted with a degree of scepticism. Despite efforts from China to shut inefficient production, there remains talk of global production overcapacity.
Chinese steel prices have risen by around 50% over the past year, supported by Chinese measures to curtail production along with resurgent demand. The steel market continues to recover from an earlier slump that was blamed on overcapacity as well as the Chinese economic slowdown in 2015.