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March 3, 2016, 10:18 a.m. EST

Surging copper is obvious ‘chart of the day’

Rebounding metal may have entered ‘new bull phase’

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By William Watts, MarketWatch

AFP/Getty Images
Is copper’s meltdown over?

Dr. Copper is looking a little healthier these days.

The industrial metal has seen its role as an international economic bellwether tarnished over the past few years, but its rebound from nearly seven-year lows set in January is attracting attention from traders and certainly isn’t doing any harm to sentiment across financial markets given the recent focus on the commodity slump.

Copper futures have been on a tear over the last four sessions, rising 11.25 cents, or 5.5%, through Wednesday, when the front-month March contract  posted its highest close since Nov. 11 at $2.1775 a pound, leaving it with a 2.5% year-to-date gain. May copper was up a penny on Thursday at $2.1915 a pound, leaving futures up 2.7% year-to-date based on most-active contracts.

“Copper is very much the ‘chart of the day’ following its latest strong price action,” said Bill McNamara, technical analyst at Charles Stanley & Co., in a Thursday note, citing the chart below:

The metal’s early move off the lows was encouraging, but McNamara had been looking for a “decisive push” above the downtrend that had been keeping a lid on copper since last May. As the daily candlestick chart shows, “that’s exactly what we have now,” he wrote.

So now what? McNamara writes:

I also like the fact that the price has pushed on through last month’s intermediate high, at $2.13, leaving it at its highest level since early November. The possible caveat to the bull case at this point is the fact that the price is now looking somewhat overbought; however, if it has indeed entered a new bull phase the extended readings on oscillators such as the 14-day RSI [relative strength index] will simply come to be seen as a sign of strong upside momentum. The next area of possible resistance is now at $2.25.

Copper isn’t trading in a vacuum. It has been leading a rally by other base metals, including aluminum, nickel and tin, which have also notched multimonth highs, noted strategists at Commerzbank. And precious metals have been on a tear amid this year’s financial market turmoil and economic jitters, with gold  up more than 17% year-to-date and silver up 15%.

Read : Gold’s ‘golden cross’ is not a golden ticket for bulls

William Watts is MarketWatch's deputy markets editor, based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @wlwatts.

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