DEFINITION of 'Copper'

One of the first metals extracted and used by humans, and among the most widely used metals in modern civilization. Copper is ductile, malleable and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity - these properties make it indispensable for numerous consumer, industrial and technology applications. It also combines well with other metals to form widely-used alloys such as brass and bronze. Copper is considered a base metal as it oxidizes relatively easily. It has the symbol Cu and the atomic number of 29 in the periodic table.


Copper has been instrumental in shaping human history. It was first used in coins and ornaments from about 8,000 B.C., and the discovery that it could be alloyed with tin to produce bronze ushered in the Bronze Age from approximately 3,000 B.C.

The rapid growth of developing nations such as China and India has significantly boosted global demand for copper in recent decades. The Andean region of South America is a prolific region for copper production globally, led by Chile, the world's biggest copper producer as of 2011.

  1. Doctor Copper

    Market lingo for the base metal that is reputed to have a Ph.D. ...
  2. Base Metals

    Metals that oxidize, tarnish or corrode relatively easily when ...
  3. Commodity Market

    A physical or virtual marketplace for buying, selling and trading ...
  4. Commodities Exchange

    An entity, usually an incorporated non-profit association, that ...
  5. Commodity Futures Contract

    An agreement to buy or sell a set amount of a commodity at a ...
  6. Convergence

    The movement of the price of a futures contract towards the spot ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing Basics

    The Copper King: An Empire Built On Manipulation

    Find out how Yasuo Hamanaka's actions in the copper market forever changed the rules for commodity traders.
  2. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Investing In The Metals Markets

    Learn the many options available for investing in the earth's chemical elements, such as gold, silver and rare-earth metals.
  3. Fundamental Analysis

    Using Base Metals As An Economic Indicator

    Base metals may not glitter like gold, but they can still guide an investor to a conclusion about overall economic health.
  4. Chart Advisor

    Copper Continues Its Descent

    Copper prices have been under pressure lately and based on these charts it doesn't seem that it will reverse any time soon.
  5. Stock Analysis

    What Exactly Does Warren Buffett Own?

    Learn about large changes to Berkshire Hathaway's portfolio. See why Warren Buffett has invested in a commodity company even though he does not usually do so.
  6. Markets

    Are EM Stocks Finally Emerging?

    Many investors are looking at emerging market (EM) stocks and wonder if it’s time to step back in, while others wonder if we’ll see further declines.
  7. Markets

    What Slow Global Growth Means for Portfolios

    While U.S. growth remains relatively resilient, global growth continues to slip.
  8. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Can Industrial Metals Make a Comeback?

    The industrial metals sector should turn higher when the GDPs of BRIC nations stabilize or when Western nations shift into a higher growth trajectory.
  9. Investing News

    Defensive Investing: Learn from a Hedge Fund Pro

    Looking for ideas on companies, sectors or investments to short? Consider the opinion of this hedge fund luminary.
  10. Investing

    Will Eni’s Discovery Affect Oil Prices?

    Following a massive natural gas discovery in the Mediterranean, Egypt's energy concerns will be coming to an end, but how does this affect oil prices?
  1. Who is Mr. Copper?

    A sense of mystery still surrounds Yasuo Hamanaka, a.k.a. Mr. Copper, and the magnitude of his losses. From his perch at ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Which mutual funds made money in 2008?

    Out of the 2,800 mutual funds that Morningstar, Inc., the leading provider of independent investment research in North America, ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Do hedge funds invest in commodities?

    There are several hedge funds that invest in commodities. Many hedge funds have broad macroeconomic strategies and invest ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Can mutual funds invest in commodities?

    Mutual funds can invest in commodities. In fact, mutual funds may provide a better way for investors to gain exposure to ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How do futures contracts roll over?

    Traders roll over futures contracts to switch from the front month contract that is close to expiration to another contract ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What does a futures contract cost?

    The value of a futures contract is derived from the cash value of the underlying asset. While a futures contract may have ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  2. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  3. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  4. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  5. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
  6. Monetary Policy

    Monetary policy is the actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory committee that determine the size and ...
Trading Center