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For decades, crude oil has been at the center of global commodities markets. Demand has served as a crucial metric of economic health, and price spikes have had major ramifications for gas-guzzling consumers.
But as countries around the world try to combat the climate crisis, oil could take a backseat, while metals like copper and lithium gain prominence.
“The critical role copper will play in achieving the Paris climate goals cannot be overstated,” Goldman Sachs analysts said in a recent research note titled “Copper is the new oil.”
Setting the scene: Copper is an essential component of systems that allow wind, solar and geothermal energy to be tapped and transmitted for applications like heating homes, the analysts noted.
And the market already looks tight. Copper prices have rallied 80% over the past 12 months, and supply is constrained as demand skyrockets. It takes two to three years to extend an existing mine, and as many as eight years to establish a new project, according to Goldman Sachs.
That could set up the price of copper to jump from current prices of more than $9,000 per tonne to $15,000 per tonne by 2025, per the bank’s estimates.
There’s also a growing focus on lithium, a key component for batteries in electric cars. In a recent note, analysts at Macquarie Research predicted that demand for electric vehicles could trigger “material shortages” of the metal from 2025.
These constraints are putting lithium miners in the spotlight. On Monday, Australia’s Orocobre and Galaxy announced a $3.1 billion merger that would create one of the biggest lithium companies in the world.
Why it matters: Global carbon dioxide emissions are set to surge dangerously this year as the global economy undergoes a huge recovery, according to a report published Tuesday by the International Energy Agency.
The Paris-based group estimates that carbon emissions from energy use are on track to spike by 1.5 billion tonnes in 2021, as heavy coal consumption in Asia, and in China in particular, outweighs rapid growth in renewable sources. That would be the second largest annual increase in energy-related emissions in history.
“This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the Covid crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate,” Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement.
Watch this space: The IEA is sounding the alarm before 40 world leaders come together later this week for a two-day virtual summit on the climate crisis convened by President Joe Biden. Birol called it a “critical moment to commit to clear and immediate action.”
What to expect at Apple’s spring event
Is Apple (AAPL) about to drop a ton of new products?
The company is hosting its first event of 2021 on Tuesday, and expectations are high, my CNN Business colleague Samantha Murphy Kelly reports.
Reading the signs: The invitations for the virtual press conference sent to reporters last week included an image of colorful spirals that form the Apple logo — a picture potentially made to look as if it had been produced by an Apple Pencil. That may be a clue hinting at updates to its iPad line.
Apple is expected to show off an updated iPad Pro with a faster processor, 5G support, a Thunderbolt port so it can connect to more external monitors and a Mini LED display.
Eleftheria Kouri, an analyst at tech market advisory firm ABI Research, said tablet shipments significantly increased in 2020, thanks in part to remote learning and working. But that uptick won’t last forever.
“Tablet vendors, including Apple, need to introduce a really game-changing technological feature in order to boost sales and encourage consumers to replace their old devices,” she said. “5G connectivity is one of these key features.”
Perhaps the buzziest product in the rumor mill is the potential debut of AirTags, a Bluetooth locator that could helps you find items such as keys, wallets, laptops or even your car. AirTags have been reportedly in the works as far back as 2019.
The company could also walk users through an expected iOS 14.5 software update focused on privacy. Its upcoming App Tracking Transparency feature will require app developers to explicitly divulge how they’re collecting user data and what it’ll be used for, and require user consent before they download or update apps from the App Store.
How to watch: Apple’s event kicks off at 1:00 p.m. ET on its website, YouTube and Apple TV. With the company’s shares up just 1.6% this year, expect Wall Street to be paying attention, too.
Facebook is joining the (very) crowded audio space
Facebook (FB) has long dominated much of our screen time. Now it’s coming for our listening breaks, my CNN Business colleague Kerry Flynn reports.
The social media company just announced several new tools for creating and sharing audio, including “Live Audio Rooms” which will be tested in Facebook Groups before a broader rollout this summer. People will also soon be able to listen to and discover new podcasts directly on the Facebook app.
Facebook aims to “treat audio as a first-class medium in the way that we treat photos and videos,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Monday in an interview with journalist Casey Newton.
The copycat effect: Facebook moved into video behind YouTube, disappearing photos after Snapchat (SNAP) and short-form content on the heels of TikTok. Now, it’s again following the growth of a new medium and competitor. Audio has seen a resurgence with the rise of podcasts, and more recently, the app Clubhouse.
Zuckerberg said he likes audio since theoretically people can more easily consume it while multitasking, and also because the production is “more accessible.” (It could also be a bet on keeping engagement up as we transition to a post-pandemic world.)
Will investors agree? So far, the reaction has been muted. Facebook’s shares are up nearly 11% this year, but may struggle to break out before it posts earnings next week.
AutoNatio (AN)n, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Lockheed Martin (LMT), Philip Morris International (PM), Procter & Gamble (PG), Travelers (TRV) and Xerox (XRX) report earnings before US markets open. CSX (CSX) and Netflix (NFLX) follow after the close.
Coming tomorrow: Verizon (VZ), Chipotle (CMG) and Whirlpool (WHR) report results.