Because the value of copper has an uncanny ability to predict economic trends, the metal is often called "Dr. Copper." And now Dr. Copper is pointing to a sinking global economy, much like falling copper prices in August 2008 preceded the financial crisis.
More hedge funds and other money managers are betting that copper prices will fall than those who think they will rise, which is known as a net short position, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.
Copper futures have fallen 4.6 percent since late September and 20 percent for the year, even though the S&P 500 is up since late September, the Journal reports.
Copper futures first slipped into a net short position in September, and the number of traders betting against copper has only grown since then.
Traders foresee lower demand for the metal used widely in manufacturing and construction as the world economy slows in the wake of the eurozone's debt crisis.
China, the world's biggest consumer of copper, is one of Europe's largest trading partners.
The bets against copper indicate that odds for a global recession are high, financial insiders told the Journal
While rising copper prices traditional predict an improving economy well before other indicators, falling prices provide less advance warning.
Although copper prices have fallen steeply recently, some analysts predict they will start increasing early next year, according to Barron's.
The metal will be needed more in the spring when warmer weather increases demand for air conditioning, piping and other construction and manufacturing materials, experts told Barron's.
Plus, and improving auto manufacturing sector will increase demand, and China will continue to grow its domestic economy, improving its electrical grid and building housing.
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