ETF Express: Week Ending 5 January 2024
- Inverse bond and equity funds (BBAB, BBFD, BBOZ, BBUS, SNAS) were the top performers in the first week of 2024 as both assets retreated on the release of a positive US jobs report.1 The rally in bond and equity prices at the end of 2023 was heavily reliant on the assumption that the Fed would cut rates both early and deep in 2024. A positive jobs report provides evidence of a resilient economy and reduces the incentive for a fast-paced reduction in interest rates. Markets now predict there’s a ~70% chance of rate cuts this March, down from almost 90% in December 2023.2
- Clean energy ETFs (CLNE, ERTH, TANN) were a theme across the poorest performers last week as traders priced-in the possibility of interest rates staying higher for longer.3 Clean energy projects such as hydrogen and solar require significant investments which are often debt reliant and are thus sensitive to interest rates.
- There were $228.7 million in reported inflows for the week, and only $56.1 million in outflows, marking a week of net inflows for the Australian ETF industry.
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Cybertruck Provides Solution to EV Industry Copper Anxiety
Copper & Electric Vehicles
The Tesla Cybertruck is widely recognised for its futuristic design, born from its bullet-proof, stainless-steel frame. However, a lesser-known attribute is its world-first use of 48-volt internal power supplies, more than four times the normal voltage used in standard vehicles.4 So, why did Tesla take this leap into 48V systems? And could it be key to addressing the excessive copper demand in the EV industry?
Why 48V? The Cybertruck, with its substantial weight of 3.5 tonnes and unique components like its 1.2-meter-long windshield wiper, necessitates a variety of motors capable of handling diverse and intense loads.5 In a conventional 12V system, this variation in electric loads would typically require thicker, heavier wiring to maintain efficiency. By opting for a 48V system, Tesla could reduce the size and weight of the Cybertruck’s wiring, resulting in less copper usage and a lighter vehicle.
What’s the EV copper problem? The average EV uses more than four times the copper than a standard petrol-powered vehicle.6 According to Goldman Sachs, electric vehicles will likely account for 27% of the additional copper consumption over the next decade, including increased demand from clean energy technologies such as solar and wind.7 Overall, copper demand is expected to exceed supply by almost 22% by 2031.8
Does the Cybertruck’s 48V system provide a solution? In short, yes. The Cybertruck uses nearly 40% less copper than a Ford F150 Lightning, an electric vehicle of similar build and category.9 However, it’s unlikely that a 48V system will become the norm in the near future. While the automobile industry is shifting towards electrification, many manufacturers rely on legacy suppliers which provide industry standard components at 12V. Nonetheless, Tesla’s industry-first usage of a 48V system provides proof that the electrification megatrend is unlikely to be halted by any deficit in copper supply, and that the industry continues to innovate.
Explore EVs and battery technology with ACDC.
- The government of Panama has formally instructed First Quantum Minerals Ltd. to cease all work on its US$10 billion Cobre Panama project.10 About 400,000 tonnes of copper were to be produced annually by the Cobre Panama copper mine.
- Anglo American has reduced its copper production target for next year by more than 200,000 tonnes, further tightening global supply.11
- Chilean President Gabriel Boric has set targets to increase the nation’s copper production by 1.04 million tonnes by 2026, representing a 20% increase in its total output in 2022.12
- The 48V architecture employed by Tesla’s new electric Cybertruck, as opposed to the conventional 12V architecture seen in most cars, will consume 40% less copper than a Ford F-150 Lightning – an electric vehicle of comparable value and make.13 Higher voltage architecture allows for thinner wiring even at high loads, reducing copper usage.
Explore copper with WIRE.
- Tenex, a Russian government-controlled uranium firm, has warned they will proactively stop US shipments if Washington restricts purchases in 2028.14 Tenex’s US subsidiary recently contacted Constellation, Duke Energy, and Dominion to prepare for this outcome.
- India plans to triple its nuclear power capacity to 22,480 megawatts by 2031-32, the construction of 10 reactors with a combined capacity of 8000MW is underway, and pre-project activities for 10 more have been initiated.15
- The US approved a new type of nuclear reactor for the first time in almost 50 years, indicating regulators are getting more flexible.16 In Tennessee, California startup Kairos Power LLC won a building permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build its Hermes demonstration reactor. The Kairos technology cools reactors with molten fluoride salt instead of water.17
- The UK’s nuclear power stations produced the least amount of power in over 40 years last year, which may lead to a greater reliance on fossil fuels and make it more challenging for the country to meet its net-zero emissions goal.18
- The US nuclear reactor fleet will not be able to benefit from Biden’s new climate law that was expected to grant billions in tax credits for clean energy operators producing hydrogen.19
Explore uranium with ATOM.
- Markets expect that the Fed will start cutting rates in March 2024.20 The ECB and BoE are also expected to ease this year.21 Reduced interest rates should make non-yielding assets such as precious metals more appealing.
- The Silver Institute’s most recent estimate indicates in 2023, the silver market recorded a deficit of about 140 million ounces.22
- Increased geopolitical tensions in the Middle East support safe haven investments.
- The US dollar and treasury yields rebounded as investors moderated their expectations for significant interest rate reduction by major central banks.23 Markets are currently projecting a cut by March with a probability of roughly 70%, down from the 85% chance observed in late December.
Explore physical precious metals with ETPMPM.
Forecasts are not guaranteed, and undue reliance should not be placed on them. This information is based on views held by Global X or referenced sources as at 9th January 2024.