Commodities & Metals

Why Freeport's Bounce Could Be Short-Lived


Shares of Freeport-McMoran Inc. (NYSE: FCX) soared 24% on Thursday, before closing with a gain of nearly 18%. Yes, gold prices rose and so did copper prices, but the main driver for the pop probably had more to do with the sinking greenback than anything else.

Over the past five years, commodity metals have lost nearly 80% of their value, as tracked by the S&P SPDR Metals & Mining ETF (NYSEMKT: XME), while the S&P 500 index is up 44%. In the past five trading days, the XME has gained nearly 15% compared with a drop of about 0.7% in the S&P 500. Over the same five days, the euro has added more than 3% against the dollar.

A falling dollar favors commodities, like gold and copper, that trade in dollars by making them cheaper compared with other currencies.

The questions are how long the dollar drop will continue and how far it will fall. The euro was up another 0.7% Friday morning, but Freeport has given back more than 2% of Thursday’s gain. Traders have had a chance to mull over Thursday’s action in the stock, and fundamentals appear to have made a comeback in valuing Freeport’s shares, which have lost nearly 90% of their value over the past five years and jumped nearly 29% in the past five days.

If something is too good to last, it won’t, and that is where Freeport stock was Friday morning. The company’s license to mine its Grasberg property in Indonesia remains in limbo, and if that license is not renewed at a reasonable price, Freeport faces big problems.

Shares traded down about 3.8% early Friday to $5.50, after closing Friday at $5.72. The stock’s 52-week range is $3.52 to $23.97.

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