The American investment bank JP Morgan is the mystery trader that grabbed more than half the copper on the London Metal Exchange, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
The $1.5bn (£1bn) trade was described in the LME's daily update as "between 50pc and 80pc" of the 350,000 tonnes in reserves. This pushed up the price for the immediate delivery of copper to $8,700 – its highest level since the financial crisis in October 2008.
A high premium on the spot copper price normally reflects fear of a shortage of the metal, which is in hot demand across the world as a vital component in a mass of products from electrical gadgets to wiring.
A source close to the situation said that JP Morgan had bought the copper contracts, adding that amount is closer to the "lower portion of the range" disclosed by the LME.
Traders said JP Morgan's name had been circulating the market all day as the most likely buyer, especially since it is about to launch a physically-backed "exchange-traded fund" (ETF) in copper imminently.
One metals broker dealing on the LME said: "The story is that they're positioning themselves in front of the ETF. There's been a lot of speculation it's them."