Dr Copper is afflicted with a real-life illness. The red metal is seen as a physician that reveals economic maladies. It is used in everything from new homes to power transmission. Coronavirus has pushed the price down 11% to about$5,600 a ton. This implies a nasty slowdown will choke off demand from the factories and building sites of China, which use more than half the world’s supply.

Big miners such as BHP and Rio, protected by their broader commodities exposure, are off 10%-12%. Far sharper falls have hit shares in specialist copper producers, which naturally amplify shifts in the commodity they mine. Freeport-McMoRan of the US has fallen 18% since the outbreak started. Chile’s Antofagasta, which is listed in London, is down almost as much. History suggests the element will rebound, as will stock prices.

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