Gold, silver, pgms – all catching fire

My initial articles on sharpspixley.com/metalsdaily.com this month look at the current strength in precious metals.  Click on the titles to read in full:

GOLD APPROACHES $1,550 AGAIN, SILVER $20, PLATINUM $1,000 –ALL STILL MOVING UP!

From being the forgotten asset segment, precious metals have caught fire in the past month and a half and ,look like they have further to run, while equities are looking vulnerable

PLATINUM COMING LATE TO THE PRECIOUS METALS PARTY

In the past week the platinum price has started to play catch-up with the other precious metals and rose around 9%. We suspect it will shortly hit $1,000 but still has a long way to go to top the current palladium or gold price.

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“This is the real move in gold and silver… it’s going to be multiyear.”

Interview by Mike Gleason of Money Metals Exchange with David Morgan

Precious Metals Soar on Falling Yields, Global Currency Turmoil

Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to welcome back our good friend David Morgan of The Morgan Report. David, it’s always good to have you on and appreciate you joining us today. How are you, sir?

David Morgan: Mike, I’m doing all right and it’s good to be with you.

Mike Gleason: Well, David, I know we don’t have a whole lot of time today, but I’m really glad we’re able to speak to you this week because we’re finally seeing some real fireworks here in the metals lately. And I wanted to get your comments.

I should mention that we’re talking here on Thursday morning and we’ve got gold hovering around $1,500 and silver right at about $17. They both popped above those respective key levels yesterday, Wednesday. So first off, what do you make of this move, David? What’s driving it? And the bigger question, will it be sustained?

David Morgan: Well, what’s driving it is something that no one’s really, really talking about. This is my opinion. Of course, you’re asking for my opinion. A lot is the financial press, “Well, It’s all about this trade war with China and the trade war is getting worse. And there’s going to be more sanctions coming in,” and on and on and on. And that may have something to do with it.

But first of all, the underlying fundamental is financial uncertainty. That’s number one. But beyond that, it’s really something going on in the physical market that no one’s really writing about and I don’t know enough about the state other than it’s got to be part of it. The reason I say that is that the paper paradigm is very clear on how the markets move in the futures markets with trading this paper back and forth for contracts to buy and sell silver. And all they really do is set the paper price.

And of course the metals price goes along with that. I’m not trying to discount that very much. What I’m trying to state is that the paper markets dominate the price over and over again. And every now and again you’ll get in a situation like this where something’s going on, where something needs to be fulfilled and accomplished, and it hasn’t been settled out yet.

So for an example, let’s say there’s some bank that’s demanding a physical settlement in gold and they haven’t received it yet. Once that’s accomplished, you may, and most likely, see the market cool off and go more into some type of trading range where you’re more apt to be able to look at the paper trades, more of what we call levels that we’re used to seeing.

So, I think there’s something out there. Whether that’s occurring with silver or not, I doubt it, right now based on the fact that silver has been lagging gold so much. And there’s a couple of gaps in the charts that will probably be filled, one, you haven’t missed this move at all. If you bought yesterday at maybe the high, I don’t know yet, and it goes down and let’s say silver makes it all the way back down into the, I don’t know, $15.50 range or something, you haven’t missed much. Yeah, you wouldn’t want to buy and see a loss right away. But what I’m trying to state is this, I’m convinced, is the real move. It’s going to be multi-year. And silver and gold, at the end of three, four years from now are going to be substantially higher than they are today.

Mike Gleason: Certainly strong comments. You’re always take a very level-headed approach and have not been just pumping sunshine over these last several years every time we get a rally. So, that’s definitely something that we should all take note of.

Now, silver, you mentioned this, silver does seem to be underperforming a little bit vis-a-vis gold. And now we’ve seen the gold-silver ratio come down from, I think I saw it 93 to one, maybe about there, within the last few months. It’s about 88 to one right now. So, silver has gained somewhat but maybe not quite like you would expect given a big bull move and given that silver should vastly outperform gold in a bull market. So is this seeming lack of out performance from silver a cause for concern?

David Morgan: Somewhat still it is. First of all, I like to see, I mean 80 to 1 at a minimum. And even there that’s an extreme.

When I started the previous website – my website, I think everyone knows is TheMorganReport.com – I rebranded that for years now because I want everyone to be aware that I cover all the resource sector, lithium, rare-earths, et cetera, and not just silver.

But back in the older days with Silver-Investor.com, when I started that website, the ratio was 80 to one, and that was an extreme. And if you would have asked me, even, I don’t know, three years ago, a couple years ago, “Will you see the gold-silver ratio above 80 to one?” I would’ve said, “No. I really, really doubt it” and I’m wrong. It’s got to about 93, 4, 5, somewhere in that range.

So, to really be convinced that, and first of all, I’m convinced that we’re in a new bull market, to be convinced that things are, let’s say, going to show both metals really outperform many other sectors, the equity markets, the bond market, the real estate market, everything else, and take the dominating lead as this currency crisis continues, I want to see silver below a 70-to-one ratio. That would be ultimate confirmation for me, Mike that okay, we’re well on our way, and we’re not. We’re at 88.

Silver has some work to do. Silver is, in my view, much more difficult to analyze than gold, but it can make these moves rather drastically and quickly as gold is doing. Of course, silver’s done pretty good job here of late picking up some momentum and moving from the doldrums into the 17, which is still dirt cheap.

I mean, if you take an AISC, all-in sustaining cost, for some of the major silver producers, they’ll tell you they’re at $15 but they don’t tell you is what their taxes are. So if you add those in, a lot of them are right at basically where we’re at, in other words $17. They’re just break even.

And for any company, what they’re making dresses or corn chips or cola, you want as wide a margin as you can get commensurate with what the market’s willing to pay for your product. And in the case of silver, these companies are still struggling at these levels. So, silver’s got a long ways to go, as does gold, for the margins to be large enough for these companies to breathe easy and have a viable business and be able to have a cashflow that allows them to go out and explore further or retain assets or whatever. So, I see a lot of upside but I’m also anxious for silver to kind of show its wings and fly, and that type of thing.

Mike Gleason: Gold has risen to levels last seen in 2013 when it broke down. But silver obviously is nowhere near those levels, which was say the mid-20s at about that point. What is it going to take for silver to get back above that say into the $20 plus range and what are some of the key resistance points you’re watching for silver between here and there and then beyond?

David Morgan: Okay. Well for, yeah, it does take more interest in the metals all together. Obviously there’s a lot of interests coming in, but it’s mostly institutional. It’s not your retail (investors) at this time. I talk to many dealers such as yourself, Mike. And what I found out was a little bit surprising. A lot of this trading is going through, as I said, institutions which means futures trading and ETFs and a lot of the retail investors are saying, you know what gold’s back to where I bought it, I bought it at this $1,450. It’s there, I’m selling it back. So a lot of the retail investors aren’t believing this rally is for real. And what they’re doing is basically getting their money back. Not all of them of course, but so there’s a lot of work to be done on the silver side. There is lots of areas of resistance on this.

Pulling up a chart as we’re speaking, Mike, because I anticipated this. So there’s huge resistance at $17, which is where we’re at right now as we speak. Will it get through that? Yes. Eventually it will. Will it instantly? I doubt it. I think it’ll come back and fill the gap. And I’m going to do an update for my paid members here, show them where a good entry point is. If they have stopped, if they want to get into this market or add to their positions, whatever. Normally I do that all through equities. I use the futures as a proxy for the overall market. Doesn’t mean you should do futures. In fact, a dissuade anybody from using the futures market. It’s just, that’s where the price is set. So it’s easier to analyze, and I can show them on the chart when silver gets to this level, that’s a good time to start buying your top tier or your favorite junior or whatever you’re going to do.

So, $17… $17 to $17.25 is a pretty big area of resistance. After that, it floats up to a really $19-20 pretty easily. So once we work through that level, Mike, you’ll probably see an acceleration of silver from, I’m going to say $17.50 up to $19.50 I expect it to go to that level fairly quickly. It won’t be like two trading days, but it may probably won’t take very long. Silver could surprise anybody, even me as far as how it reacts. It doesn’t seem to ever do what you expect it to do. But regardless it will outperform and we do need to see a higher level. Once again, over the $20 level, I think the psychology will change and people will say, “It’s silver, not so bad.” Now, they won’t touch at $15. I know you guys sell silver at all levels and every day and there’s always purchases.

But, mark my words, you check the volume and activity at your business. How many people are calling in and buying silver or when it gets silver when it gets over $20, what it’s doing now, and I’m sure you’ll be selling more at that level. People just love to buy the metals at a higher price. When I’m pounding the table saying “This is it.”

Because most people don’t want to put up with, the time, the patience that’s required, if you bought silver at $14 at the end of 2015. Watched it rally all the way up to $21. I was convinced at that time where the bull mark was back in tact. And in a way it is, I mean if you look at gold from that perspective, that’s where it bottomed and has had high or lows all the way up. Silver’s chart doesn’t look like that. Silver bottoms at the same time as gold, which is December, 2015. and it has not made high or lows all the way up. And we’ve basically stayed flat to about $15.75 and then it broke down from there and it got down as low as the 14s. So still higher than it was in December, 2015 but a messy chart, let’s say.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, there’s certainly some big, big levels above us and yeah, I agree. I think when we see silver, get that two handle again. I think that’s when a lot of people are going recognize that okay, it’s time to start moving and the smart people will do it before then.

Again, thanks David for fitting us in. I know we had a tight window here and it’s been great to have you on. But as we wrap up though, I want to give you a chance to fill our audience in on any of the other markets that you’re looking at here.

David Morgan: Sure. Always looking at the equity market and of course the bonds are the key and the currency markets – we looking at everything really. I think the stock market is showing some wear. It’s been a bull market for quite some time. It’s overvalued by any metric you want to use. I’m looking at that and see it get rolled over further. And then bond market of course is the key because this is the debt markets that everything depends on and how much faith there is in that is going to determine the future of the financial system. So, those are key currencies. As I’ve said many times you can see gold and the dollar go up. Dollar’s making new highs. Gold’s making a six year high. And I said “Watch.” And of course here we are. There’s a reason for that. So, I think that’s about it.

I just close out, I got this email. “I’m a young guy, I have a high conviction, precious metal is the best place to be in the next three to five years. I’m in need of guidance of how to build a long-term precious metals portfolio. I want to fund this as soon as possible. I know you’re not a financial adviser, but you offer services that will help me start a precious metal portfolio. I continue to monitor the market on an ongoing basis with your analysis, can you help me?” And that’s almost precisely what I do. So, I will get with this gentleman and kind of reaffirm what he’s already asking. Can you help me? Yeah, that’s what our business is. So anyway, if you want to learn more, just go TheMorganReport.com put in a first name and an email address, be happy to put you on our free list. And you can determine from there, if you want to go further.

Mike Gleason: There’s probably no better time to get in and get on board with services like The Morgan Report, and the great commentary that David and his team put out there. And, and just see what’s going happen and what they have to say about these markets as we could be entering this new bull phase. I mean, you heard David say it, he’s convinced we’re in a new bull market and this is going to be an exciting time and the time that precious metals investors have been waiting for, for a number of years. So definitely urge people to take advantage of that and go to TheMorganReport.com it’s truly great stuff. You have just heard what David was talking about. A great approach to all these markets and lots and lots of experience over the years. He’s seen everything.

Well good stuff David. Always appreciate it. Thanks so much. I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer and I can’t wait for our next conversation, take care.

David Morgan: Thanks so much Mike. It’s great to be back with you.

Gold stars aligning; China reserves and demand and trade war escalation impact

Four recent articles wRitten by me and published on the Sharps Pixley website.  To read the articles in full click on the titles

Gold: The Stars are all Aligning – Again

The latest issue of Grant Williams’ Things that make you go hmmm.. newsletter point to market performance parallels with that ahead of the Great Depression and other major recessions as well as other factors seen as positive for gold

Chinese 2019 gold demand still slipping but don’t panic

Latest gold withdrawal figures for July from China’s Shanghai Gold Exchange suggest that Chinese gold demand continues to falter this year, but any shortfall in demand is being counterbalanced by gains elsewhere.

China says it added 10 tonnes to gold reserves in July

The Chinese Central Bank reports adding just short of 10 tonnes of gold to reserves in July while overall Central Bank purchases remain elevated and gold ETF holdings rise.

U.S./China trade war escalation drives gold to $1,500

The apparent escalation of trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies, the U.S. and China, has given a huge boost to the gold price which is hovering close to the US$1,500 level.

 

Gold’s bounce, disappointing silver, China gold reserves and demand, Silver Top 20, gold bullish amid headwinds

As regular readers of lawrieongold will know, nowadays I am primarily publishing my articles on the Sharps Pixley /Metals Daily’s websites rather than here on this site.  Links to my most recent articles follow:

GOLD BOUNCES BACK BUT SILVER STILL DISAPPOINTS – FOR NOW

13 Jul 2019 – Comments from Fed chairman Jerome Powell confirming the likelihood of a rate cut at this month’s FOMC meeting have given the gold price a bit of a boost, but silver continues to disappoint, But for how long?

CHINA CONTINUES TO ADD TO ITS GOLD RESERVES – BUT AT LOWER RATE M/M

09 Jul 2019 – The Chinese Central Bank has announced it added 10.26 tonnes of gold to its forex reserves in June – a lower level than the prior two months’ additions. Total global Central Bank accumulations are already up 73% this year according to the WGC.

WORLD TOP 20 SILVER PRODUCERS AND METAL’S PRICE PROSPECTS

09 Jul 2019 – Even though it saw a 3% production decline for silver last year,but still reckons on a supply surplus, UK precious metals consultancy is marginally bullish on the metals price prospects in H2. Top 20 silver producers tabulated.

2019 H1 China gold demand lowest for five years

08 Jul 2019 – June gold withdrawal figures out of the SGE show that the downturn in Chinese gold demand is still slipping compared with the previous 2 years – and hugely below that seen in the record 2015 year

Gold price faces some headwinds but prospects remains bullish

07 Jul 2019 – Gold and silver prices were brought back sharply following the Independence Day holiday in the U.S. closing the week below $1,400 and $15 respectively, but we anticipate the latest setbacks to be shortlived.

Some thoughts on silver’s poor performance vis-a-vis gold.

What is puzzling in the precious metals space is the underperformance of silver in comparison with gold during the latter’s very sharp recent price rise. Historically silver tends to outperform gold percentage wise when the latter is rising sharply.  This time around, so far, this has not been the case,  Silver guru Ted Butler puts this down to continued price manipulation on the U.S. COMEX Futures Exchange – see: http://silverseek.com/commentary/stranger-fiction-17678 for his latest outspoken commentary on this subject, and who he sees as the main culprits.

Meanwhile appended below is Stefan Gleason’s latest commentary from Money Metals Exchange, where he predicts a potentially explosive rise in the silver price should gold continue its upwards path.  Gleason heads up a precious metals trading business in the U.S. so he does have an interest in higher prices, but his views on the current silver situation are echoed by many perhaps more impartial observers too:

Will Silver Soon Follow Gold’s Lead?

Gold Price (June 21, 2019)

To be sure, there is also the possibility of some retracing and back-testing this summer before the $1,400 level is conquered for good.

The fall and winter periods are typically more conducive to big precious metals rallies.

Seasonality, however, isn’t a dependable trading tool. Some technical analysts (who will go unnamed here) wrongly turned bearish on gold and gold stocks after they put in a disappointing early spring performance and were thought to be headed straight into the summer doldrums.

Instead, the summer solstice arrived with gold’s chart displaying a powerfully bullish long-term setup.

The one glaring problem with the current setup in precious metals markets: silver hasn’t yet confirmed gold’s breakout.

Silver Price (June 21, 2019)

Silver needs to break above $15.50, then $16.00 (the last intermediate cycle high) in order to establish a bullish trend on par with gold’s.

The white metal’s lagging price performance in recent months has resulted in it trading at its biggest discount to gold in three decades.

Hardy silver bugs are excited at this rare opportunity to buy more ounces on the cheap. Others are understandably concerned that silver isn’t showing any leadership during rallies in the metals sector.

Silver, being a smaller and naturally more volatile market than gold, is supposed to amplify gold’s moves on both the upside and downside. So why is silver instead acting like an anemic version of gold?

Lots of reasons can be proffered – from record central bank buying of gold, to silver’s reliance on industrial demand, to low (official) inflation, to market manipulation.

It probably comes down largely to investor psychology. When precious metals markets have been out of the “mainstream” news cycle for years – trumped by a rising stock market and the rise of digital currencies – the general public won’t be interested in precious metals.

The super-rich and large institutional investors who are more apt to take contrarian positions in overlooked assets generally prefer gold over silver because it is more convenient for them to accumulate in large quantities.

We are still in the stealth phase of a precious metals bull market. When we enter the public participation phase – and demand for physical bullion increases – we have no doubt that silver will shine.

Is Palladium Price Action Forerunner for Gold and Silver?

by: Clint Siegner*

The precious metals sector has just one standout performer this year, and that is palladium. Lately the market for that metal has become more than just hot. Developments there could have implications for the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) and the rickety fractional reserve system of inventory underpinning all of the physical precious metals markets.

Craig Hemke of the TF Metals Report was  the podcast guest this past Friday. He has been watching the developments in palladium closely and gave an excellent summary of what’s involved.

Palladium prices went parabolic once before. The price went from under $400 per ounce to $1,100/oz from late 1999 to early 2001. Then, just as quickly, the price crashed back below $400.

Palladium’s move higher in recent months is reminiscent. It remains to be seen whether or not a price collapse will follow. Some of the underlying drivers are the same, some are not.

Russia May Not Save the Palladium Markets This Time

Today, as in 2001, Russia is the world’s largest producer of the metal. Mines there contribute about 40% of the world supply.

The shortage 17 years ago was driven by demand. Automobile and truck manufacturers began using more of the metal in catalytic converters. It was a lower cost alternative to platinum.

When the market ran into shortage, Russians, under President Boris Yeltsin, rode to the rescue. They were willing and able to bring more physical metal to market.

The added supply turned the market around just in the nick of time. The LBMA and bullion banks got away with selling way more paper palladium than they could actually deliver.

Today, palladium inventory is once again in short supply. This time around, however, the paper sellers in London and in the COMEX may find themselves at the mercy of Vladimir Putin.

Russian relations aren’t what they were in 2001. Palladium users may not get the same rescue as before, assuming Russian miners have stockpiles to deliver.

The bullion banks’ problem is starting to look serious.

System Failure

For one thing, the lease rates for palladium have gone berserk. Bullion bankers and other short sellers often lease metal to hand over to counterparties standing for delivery on a contract. Until very recently, they could get that metal for less than one percent cost. Last week, that rate spiked to 22%.

That is extraordinarily expensive, and it reflects the scarcity of physical palladium. The only reason a banker might pay such a rate is because he is over the barrel and has zero options outside of defaulting on his obligation.

Severe Shortages Lead to High Lease Rates, Backwardation

In conjunction with the surge in lease rates, the palladium market has moved into backwardation. It costs significantly more to buy metal on contracts offering delivery in the near future than it does to buy contracts with a longer maturation.

Normally the opposite is true when it comes to the precious metals. Investors buying a contract normally pay a premium to have the certainty of a fixed price today for metal to be delivered sometime well down the road.

Investors are paying big premiums (about $100/oz currently) to get contacts with offering metal for delivery now. The near-term price reflects a concern over whether promises to deliver palladium months from now can even be met.

Is the Palladium Situation a Dress Rehearsal for Gold & Silver?

Gold and silver bugs have long expected the bullion bankers will eventually put themselves in this kind of bind with the monetary metals. They have sold contracts representing something on the order of 100 ounces for every ounce of actual gold or silver sitting in exchange vaults.

That much leverage is bound to end in catastrophe, someday. All it will take is a collapse in confidence – the suspicion that paper will not and cannot be convertible for actual metal.

A failure to deliver in the relatively tiny palladium market could be the “canary in the coal mine” – a warning to investors in other precious metals. If there is a failure to deliver in LBMA palladium, it could shake confidence in the much larger markets for gold and silver.

The developing shortage in the silver market suggests that silver could be the next

Ted Butler Discusses the Great Silver Fraud

Ted Butler is nothing but obsessive on what he sees as a huge criminal fraud in the multi-year manipulation of the silver price by big money players with the apparent complicity of the regulators.  But his obsession is almost certainly rooted in truth.  No-one studies this market quite to the extent Ted Butler does.

In his latest posting on silverseek.com he likens Comex activity on silver to the recently uncovered Theranos medical diagnostic fraud in an article entitled Great Frauds Require Darkness – the main difference being that the Theranos fraud only had a life of nearly 15 years before the company behind it came crashing down, while what Ted sees as the Comex silver fraud has been in place now for more than twice as long and is still ongoing, with far more powerful vested interests supporting it.  As ted puts it “all the leading legitimate participants and regulators have aligned themselves to prolong the fraud.

You can read his full article by clicking on the following link:  Great Frauds Require Darkness

Silver May Be Getting Ready to Shine Again

by: Clint Siegner – Money Metals News Service

The setup for higher silver prices is so good it’s scary. The relative positioning of speculators versus the bullion banks in the futures markets is extraordinarily lopsided.

A bet on silver moving higher from here looks a lot like a no-brainer. So much so that David Morgan, publisher of The Morgan Report and silver guru is advising just a bit of caution, as he told listeners in an exclusive interview on this past Friday’s Money Metals Weekly Market Wrap Podcast.

The bullion banks (Commercials) are almost certainly now betting for higher silver prices and have relinquished their concentrated short position.

Meanwhile, the large speculators are positioned increasingly short. The good news for silver bulls is the bullion banks dominate the futures markets, by hook or by crook, and they generally win versus the speculators.

In the chart below from Zachary Storella (Investing.com), the red line represents the “Commercials” which are the bullion banks and miners. It shows their collective position virtually even, or neutral. It is the first time this has happened since the Commodity Futures Trading Commission began publishing the more detailed Commitments of Traders report in 2009.

Silver: COT Futures Large Trader Positions Chart

One could argue that if the commercials are neutral, that isn’t exactly the same as the bullion banks being positioned long.

Remember though, the commercial category includes both the producers and the bullion banks. Miners are generally going to be short by default. It is typical for them to hedge their production by selling futures and delivering the physical metal later. This hedging allows them to raise funds for current operations and protect themselves from a drop in metals prices down the road.

If the miners are short, the bullion banks have to be betting long.

Meanwhile, the speculators are taking the other side of that bet. If history is going to repeat and the banks are going to once again take the specs back to the woodshed for a whipping, it is full steam ahead for silver prices, right? Not quite so fast says David Morgan.

The problem is in the lower of the two charts shown above. Open interest in silver — the number of open futures contracts — is near record highs.

In the past, when the commercial short position approached a bottom, open interest also tended to be near a low point

We are in uncharted territory with both an extreme in Commercial/Spec positioning and an extreme in open interest. That makes predictions about the direction of the price more uncertain.

The COT report isn’t detailed enough to remove all guesswork about how the banks are positioned, so there could be something important that silver bugs are missing.

But if the prop traders at JPMorgan Chase and the other banks who dominate metals trading are positioned heavily long, the huge open interest could fuel a dramatic move in price. If prices start moving higher, there are a lot of specs to be caught in a short squeeze.

Another bit of data supports the notion that silver investors are witnessing history in the markets with the bullion banks FINALLY long silver.

Craig Hemke, of TF Metals Report, noted on Friday that JPMorgan Chase added another 605,000 ounces of physical silver to their COMEX vault. That bank has been notorious for its short position, but it has been steadily building a physical position in recent months. Today it holds a whopping 53.7% of the COMEX bar inventory.

All of this extraordinary positioning in the futures markets could be foretelling something extraordinary is about to happen to the silver price.

Clint Siegner

All fall down? Is the predicted crash starting to hit?

Edited and updated article which first appeared on the Sharps Pixley websire earlier i n the week

As I switched on my computer this morning I was faced with a sea of red ink!  Equity prices were down across the board – in the U.S., Asia and Europe and no doubt elsewhere too. Most major stock indices were down by between 1 and 3% yesterday and in early trade today with the NASDAQ being particularly hard hit.  The markets are currently mostly moving on whether a trade and tariff war between the U.S. and China is imminent or not and prospects and views on this are mixed.  Tech stocks too, which have been responsible for much of the peaking of the markets earlier this year, have also been falling out of favour.

Bitcoin (BTC) was this morning stuttering down below the $8,000 level (it has since fallen to the low 7,000s) – around 60% off its high point achieved only a month and a half ago – and if Ethereum is a pointer, with it down at $450 as I write, the next leg down for BTC could well be to around $6,000.  (When Bitcoin and Ethereum were at their respective peaks early in the year BTC was trading at about 14x the Ethereum price.)

In the precious metals, gold, silver and the pgms were all down as well, although perhaps not by nearly as much in percentage terms as the equity markets.  The dollar Index was one of the few positives showing a tiny gain but it was still stuttering well below the 90 level and thus around 13% lower against other currencies than it was when President Trump came into office some 14 months ago.  Obviously a strong dollar is not part of ‘making America great again’.

So what has changed?  The U.S. Fed seems to be committed to raising interest rates perhaps at a faster rate than had previously been anticipated with higher rate targets for 2019 and 2020.  Wall Street may not be liking this prospect.  But perhaps it is the sudden recent downturn in the FAANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google), following Facebook’s problems, which is a primary cause of the falls in the Dow, S&P and NASDAQ (in particular). High flyer Tesla is also a significant contributor to the Wall Street sell-off and when Wall Street falls equities worldwide tend to follow its lead.

Is this the start of the equities crash many commentators have been predicting – and if so how will it affect gold and the other precious metals?  It’s probably too early to say, but after almost nine years of virtually uninterrupted rises in the equities indices we suspect something will have to give – indeed it may already have started.  We’ve already seen the bitcoin bubble burst and, as noted above, we feel the cryptos may yet have further to fall until the bottom is reached.  Are equities next?

What will have changed with the latest downturns is investor sentiment.  Equity increases look to no longer be the ‘sure thing’ that they were, buoyed up by the Fed’s Quantitative Easing policy which poured increased liquidity into the markets.  Now the Fed’s policy is in reverse with what many observers now refer to as Quantitative Tightening.  If history is anything to go by, equities markets may well suffer as a consequence of a rising interest rate path, at least initially.

Precious metals have moved up from their lows, but down again from their subsequent interim peaks, with gold reaching around the $1,355 mark which has proved to provide strong resistance on the upside.  It has since fallen back to the low $1,320s and is still looking vulnerable, with silver following a somewhat similar pattern.  The pgms seem to be treading a slightly different path as befits their industrial metal status.  The gold:silver ratio (GSR) remains above 81 which usually suggests silver is a better buy than gold – the late Ian McAvity used to say buy silver if ratio above 80, but buy gold if ratio 40 or below which has proved to be pretty wise advice over the years, although the 40 level hasn’t been seen since 2011 when it touched 33.7.  We’d probably suggest a range of buying silver with a GSR of 80 and above and gold with a GSR of 60 and below as being good advice under more recent price patterns and with more modest expectations!

Where are we now?  If I were an investor in U.S. equities or in bitcoin I’d be nervous and with global markets tending to follow Wall Street that nervousness would tend to extend to any major global markets.  Watch U.S./China trade negotiations and don’t necessarily trust either side to keep to any promises made to the other.  I would prefer gold and silver as safer investments than equities and see bitcoin as pure speculation with the potential to crash much further than it has already.  Precious metals may well see some falls but these are unlikely to be of the kind of magnitude which could befall equities so we’d continue with the theme of using gold, and perhaps silver, as wealth insurance.  They may not see major gains if equities collapse, but they shouldn’t see major falls either and, as in 2009 in the aftermath of the last big financial meltdown, they will probably recover far faster.

Gold hit lowest level ytd – will it recover?

March has been a pretty bleak month for investors in almost all asset classes.  Equity investment, which had been a such a sure thing for the past few years, has been wavering and stocks in general are well off their highs and looking vulnerable to further falls, bitcoin has seen its bubble burst and has halved in value – and we think there could be more pain yet to come for the past year’s speculative investment star, and even precious metals have come down with gold languishing at the time of writing at around $1.312 (spot gold had fallen to around $1,307 an ounce at one stage yesterday morning) and could well breach that on the downside this week although it has made a small recovery since.

The bond market is also weaker on the prospect of continuing Fed interest rate rises.

The only positive spot seems to be the U.S. dollar, but people have short memories.  The dollar index did see a small recovery to sit back above the 90 level  but has been under pressure again and it is still around 12% below the level it was when President Trump took office only 15 months ago.  While there now seems to be a consensus that the dollar could continue to see a short term rise, along with whatever decision the FOMC meeting next week makes on U.S. interest rates, there are still many commentators who feel that a rising dollar is not sustainable long term and that it could quickly start coming down again.  If so that is certainly gold positive – at least in dollar terms

As for gold and the other precious metals we have noted before that they are facing headwinds, but perhaps not insuperable ones.  Global demand – particularly in the Middle East and Asia in general – remains relatively positive and there is the distinct impression that global new mined gold production has at last peaked and may be beginning to turn down, albeit at a pretty marginal rate.

Some commentators sing the praises of silver as perhaps the best speculative bet, with a current gold:silver ratio of over 80.  They feel the ratio is too high and recent pricing history tells us it is likely to come down from this level thus enhancing the percentage growth prospects for silver over gold.

Of the other precious metals, although it has some adherents, platinum tends to follow the ups and downs in the gold price to an extent, while palladium, for the time being at least, looks to be in a better fundamental position due to a perceived production deficit and stronger industrial demand in the autocatalyst sector.

So gold could fall back further – much will depend on whether the FOMC meeting seems to be suggesting a further two, three or even four more rate hikes this year, although given that equity and bond markets are looking vulnerable to more than the generally expected two more rate increases this year, we suspect that discretion may prove to be the better part of valour in this respect.  Certainly if the Fed looks at the historical effects of a rising rate scenario, caution may well reign.  Under such circumstances gold could see something of a recovery back to the $1,350s by the mid-year – but don’t put your shirt on it!

The above article is a lightly edited version of an article posted a day earlier to the Sharps Pixley website

Lawrieongold: Gold/silver articles published on other sites

As readers of lawrieongold will know I also publish articles on other websites.  A couple of recent ones are linked below:

Metals Focus sees strength in Chinese gold demand in 2018

 

SGE gold withdrawals down in Feb but up YTD

Both the above articles were published on www.sharpspixley.com.

However, I also write occasional articles for U.S. site – www.usgoldbureau.com, but this site is blocked for access from outside North America unless one uses a browser, like Tor, which can be set to mimic access from other countries.  So for North American readers, or Tor users, a link to my latest article on this site follows:

Equities and Bitcoin Looking Vulnerable, Put Your Trust in Precious Metals

Gold on a tear as dollar weakens – silver being left behind

Article first published on the Sharps Pixley website, and lightly edited here, looking at the strong performance of gold over the past week, but also the weakening of the U.S. dollar index.

Since Donald Trump assumed the Presidency of the world’s richest and most powerful nation, the US dollar index (relating the dollar to a basket of other currencies) has fallen by around 11% accounting for much of the increase in the gold price in US dollar terms.  By contrast, the gold price in Euros has actually fallen by 1% over the past year, so what may appear to have been an appreciation in the gold price has been more a reflection of the depreciation in the value of the supposedly mighty US dollar.  It’s only that most people around the world look primarily at movements in the gold price in the US dollar – as we do in the title of this article – that the gold price is seen as actually having advanced.

But gold in US dollar terms does provide a useful benchmark as over time the dollar is probably the world’s most stable currency and is, for most nations, their primary reserve currency in their foreign exchange holdings.

This relationship between gold and the US dollar, with the former providing perhaps the most overt indication of how the greenback is doing vis-à-vis other currencies is the reasoning behind what seems to be an ever-increasing view that the powers-that-be collude to suppress the gold price to hide what is an overall indicator in the decline of the dollar’s purchasing power.

Some put this decline at upwards of 80% since President Nixon severed the convertibility of the dollar for gold to protect US gold reserves. In some sectors of the economy this decline is readily apparent.  Grocery shopping, property prices, salary levels etc.  In others less so, notably transportation and electronics, but in general $100 today would only buy you a fraction of what you could have purchased with $100 in 1971.

But it’s not only the purchasing power of the dollar which has been in decline.  The same is true of virtually any nation’s currency.  All currencies nowadays are fiat in that they have no backing, which is why some economists call for a return to a gold standard.  This is probably impractical without a massive gold price increase and, even then, would probably be overrun very quickly by ever increasing consumer demand for goods and services.

There is also talk of China trying to introduce some kind of gold backing for the renminbi (yuan) at some time in the future thereby leapfrogging the dollar as the world’s go-to currency, but this is probably more a theory than a likely eventuality.  It is seen as the reason China is assumed by many to be building its gold reserves at a far higher rate than it has been reporting, but this may also, if true, be just as support for a future petro-yuan – with the yuan exchangeable for gold – as a very competitive Chinese bid to replace the petrodollar!

So perhaps gold investors should treat the latest rise in the gold price purely as a wealth protection exercise.  That is what gold is good at over time.  If the dollar declines further then gold will rise further, as will all the major precious metals – and most other commodities too.  Changes in prices over  the 47 years since President Nixon stopped dollar convertibility are self evident, but in geographic areas like Europe where currency purchasing power has diminished similarly the imposition of a new currency, and/or the implementation of other changes like decimalisation in the UK, have made direct comparisons that much harder for the peerson in the street to relate to.

But regardless, gold has moved up sharply in dollar terms in the past few days despite mixed economic data out of the USA.  Much of this increase so far seems to have passed silver by and the gold:silver ratio has actually risen a little standing at close to 78 at the time of writing, although silver has been making a bit of a late run ahead of the weekend as have platinum and palladium.

We still stand by our forecast that the gold:silver ratio will come down to 70 or lower during the course of the year which would make silver potentially a better investment than gold if it does follow its historic pattern and rise faster than gold when the latter is on the increase.  At the moment we see no reason to change our forecast for gold to hit $1,425 or thereabouts this year and silver $20.50.  As I stated in the article in which I made these predictions- Precious metals price predictions for 2018 – gold, silver, pgms – I look at these forecasts as being conservative and if the dollar continues to fall and precious metals prices to rise sharply. as they have this past week, then I may see the need to adjust the forecasts – at least in US dollar terms.  However, also bear in mind that gold and silver had a strong start in 2017, but then tended to pull back.  2018 could see a repeat of this pattern, although I don’t see palladium making the kind of gains it did last year.

For those interested in my precious metals stock price forecasts for the year ahead do look at a series of articles i have published on Seekingalpha.com.  

The terms and conditions for publication of articles on Seeking Alpha prevent me from posting them here, but follow the links to read them on that site.

Gold, Silver, Platinum, Palladium – Price And Stock Forecasts/Recommendations For 2018

Precious Metals Stock Performance And Recommendations Update

Top Silver Stock Suggestions For The Year Ahead

 

Dollar being allowed to fall; Gold rising

A pre-New Year article published on the Sharps Pixley website – and since posting gold has moved up further and the US dollar fallen some more.  The original article – shown below, also pointed to a disappointing performance by silver at the time, but since it was written silver has also picked up nicely and the Gold:Silver ratio come back to below 77.

Dollar being allowed to fall; Gold up; Silver disappoints so far

Original article published December 29th on Sharps Pixley website

As the final trading session of the year is already under way in Europe and has just begun in North America, precious metals are trending higher, but most of the increase is due to the gradual decline in the dollar index (DXY).  Since end 2016 the DXY has been allowed to drop from 102.65 on December 29th last year to 92.29 as I write on December 29th this year.  That is a fall of around 10%.  Again as I write, the gold price in the US dollar is up around 12% over the full year after its recent rally.  Silver, on the other hand, is only up a little over 4% over the same period – a particularly disappointing experience for the silver investor given that historically silver tends to outperform gold in a rising gold market.

Silver though is, or should be, somewhat anomalous vis-a-vis gold as it is much more of an industrial metal, although its performance as such may not be the real reason it has underperformed its sibling precious metal in 2017.  Silver is a much smaller market than gold and its price can thus be even more subject to futures trading patterns where big money is involved.  Silver followers reckon the price is being manipulated in a major way on the futures markets and point to the huge short positions taken in the metal by the big bullion banks and traders as being key to the price patterns.  These big shorts do not relate easily to some huge accumulations of physical metal by the same big banks that dominate these short positions – a point being made continuously by silver analyst Ted Butler (probably the world’s No. 1 expert on this anomalous situation) who reckons the activity in the silver markets by the big players – notably by JP Morgan – is, in effect, a criminal activity to which the market regulators continue to turn a blind eye.

Of course gold bulls also see the gold market as being manipulated too by many of the same players as in the silver market.  But here the motivation, if the gold price is indeed being held down, may be in support of governments and the dollar given the huge global debt position.  The gold price is considered by many as a bellwether for the state of the economy and a big rise in gold could be seen as a huge fall in confidence in global economic management.  That does not suit the big money and the markets, let alone government policies.  Whether there is collusion between major governments/central banks and the bullion banks to keep the gold price suppressed remains arguable, although there is considerable evidence to suggest that this has indeed been policy in the past and thus probably still is the case today.

The big question today is whether gold will indeed stay back above $1,300 on the year’s final trading day and what will happen when trading resumes in the New Year.  Silver could also possibly break back up through $17 and as I write gold has indeed breached $1,300 and silver looks well placed to break out above $17. These price advances have survived the New York market open and whether they will survive the full trading period at these levels remains to be seen, but the force is certainly with them at the moment.  Gold at $1,300 and silver at $17 would put the gold:silver ratio (GSR) at 76.5 which is certainly not unreasonable given that the GSR has ranged between  around 67.7 and 79.4 over the past year.  Indeed we have gone on record as suggesting the GSR will come down to 70 during the year.  Some feel this is a very conservative prediction.

Platinum is also moving up along with the other precious metals apart from palladium which has come off a few dollars.  We think there’s a good chance that platinum will be back at a higher price than palladium by the end of 2018, although I have received a recent email from former Stillwater CEO, Frank McAllister, who would strongly disagree having published a paper back in 2012 that palladium and platinum should at least be on a par with each other.  He further suggested that the demand for palladium in the autocatalyst sector could well drive its price ahead of platinum.  He has certainly been correct in this viewpoint.

Ted Butler’s latest theory, is also worthy of comment.  He avers that JP Morgan was in effect given a 10-year carte blanche by the U.S. Government and regulators as a reward for its assumption of the huge Bear Stearns short position in silver, at the government’s prompting, when that bank collapsed in the 2008 financial crisis.  That 10 year period will now be up in 2018 and, if Butler is correct in his suggestion, JP Morgan could now be in a position to reap multi-billion dollar rewards from unwinding some of its silver market activities.  Butler though has been permanently bullish on the silver price and some of his theorising, however well supported in fact, may just be wishful thinking.  BUT – he could also be correct and if he is there could be a run up in the silver price that would at least match that of 2011 when the metal peaked at just short of $50.  Silver investors will certainly be nailing their colours to that mast!  And if silver runs in this manner it could drag gold up with it too.  The tail wagging the dog!

There have been many changes in both the gold and silver markets over the past several years and most would seem to be price supportive – not least the continued flow of bullion from generally weaker hands in the West into stronger hands in the East.  Global gold production has probably peaked –it has certainly at least plateaued – and the year-end figures will be viewed with particular interest when they come in.  We would suspect global gold production in 2017 could be down as much as 1% overall.  It is falling in some countries, although still rising in others, but cutbacks in capital programmes and in exploration spending, particularly by some of the majors, suggest that there could be several years of declining global output, although not at a particularly high rate

Eastern demand appears to be holding up fairly well.  While neither of the two leading consumers – China and India – are importing gold at their past record levels, demand appears to have been increasing in 2017 over that of 2016 and we would expect that trend to continue along with the gradual increase in percentages of their populations falling into the middle class (and potentially gold-buying) categories – a growth that is being echoed around the world.

Geopolitics could also be playing a role here, although the gold price has been showing little sign of any sustained upwards movement with some of the worrying events taking place around the world and President Trump’s seemingly increasingly combative rhetoric which could be considered destabilising.  However we have noted that the passing of major holidays often seems to mark an inflection point in market behaviour and perhaps Christmas 2017 is yet another one of these.  So far the portents for gold and the other precious metals look positive.  It remains to be seen how they play out through the year ahead.

For those interested in a follow up as the first day of 2018 trading has got under way in Asia and Europe, Click on:

 Gold and silver continue rising as dollar and bitcoin slip

Check out Seeking Alpha for my 2018 price predictions for gold, silver, platinum, palladium and precious metals stocks

My latest article on Seeking Alpha looks at the performance of my precious metals stock recommendations of a year ago – over half beat the record growth in the S&P 500, but some would have lost you money as well – and my new set of predictions for the year ahead.  Highlights as follows:

  • Precious metals stock picks made a year ago were mixed, but more than half beat the record growth in the S&P 500.
  • Most of the new 2018 precious metals stock picks are the same as those for 2017, but there are some deletions and additions.
  • Price forecasts for gold, silver, platinum and palladium, the dollar index

For the record looking for higher prices in the year ahead for gold, silver and platinum, but perhaps a fall back in palladium in the second half of  the year as we start seeing reverse substitution by platinum catalysts in the petrol (gasoline) section of autocatalyst manufacture due to the platinum price being lower than that of palladium.

Stock selections are virtually all in stocks which won’t collapse should precious metals not perform as expected.

To read the article on Seeking Alpha click on:

Gold, Silver, Platinum, Palladium – Price And Stock Forecasts/Recommendations For 2018

Six recent posts by Lawrie on sharpspixley.com

I’ve been a little lax about linking here to my articles published on the Sharps Pixley website but here are links to six I have published so far this month.  They look at the gold and silver markets as well as pgms.  Click on the titles to read the full articles.  To keep up with my thoughts on precious metals, and a whole host of other precious metals news stories from around the world, take a regular look at info.sharpspixley.com

Indian gold imports: High but ignore the hype!

13 Jul 2017 – Indian gold imports this year have already surpassed the full year 2016 level, but its probably best to ignore some of the year on year growth media hype given how low the figures were for H1 2016.

Implications for silver of Tahoe’s Escobal shutdown

12 Jul 2017 – Any impact on the supposedly temporary enforced closure of Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine, the world’s second largest primary silver mine by Guatemala’s supreme court may only have a very limited impact on global silver fundamentals and the metal price.

Palladium closing gap on platinum – but neither great long term

11 Jul 2017 – In the past year the palladium price has moved up and platinum down and there is a real prospect of the former overtaking the latter in the near future.

So what’s happening to gold – and silver?

10 Jul 2017 – Gold, which had been showing signs of strength saw some huge trading volumes late last week which prompted a price slump, while silver fared even worse with the GSR rising to almost 80.

Gold overall H1 performance matches dollar index decline

04 Jul 2017 – H1 commodity price changes very positive for palladium while gold rise pretty well matches fall in dollar index. Silver disappoints. Iron ore worst performer.

 

Chinese gold demand up a little y-o-y but still well down on 2015

04 Jul 2017 – After a blip in May, Chinese gold demand as represented by Shanghai Gold Exchange withdrawals is now a little higher than at the same time a year ago, but still well down on the record 2015 figure.

 

 

The Commodity Cycle: What It Means for Precious Metals Prices

By Stefan Gleason*

The cycle for any commodity follows the same basic pattern…

When prices are low, production falls. As new supplies diminish, the market tightens and prices move higher. The higher prices incentivize producers to invest in production capacity and increase output. Eventually, the market becomes oversupplied, prices fall, and the cycle starts all over again.

Of course, this is a simplified model of what drives commodity cycles. Booms and busts can be amplified and extended by speculators, by unexpected shifts in demand, or even by interventions from central banks and governments.

Regardless of the causes, commodity markets will always be cyclical in nature. Commodities as a group can be pressured upward or downward by extrinsic forces such as monetary inflation or credit contraction.

However, any individual commodity – whether oil, corn, copper, gold, silver, platinum, or palladium – may be in its own particular stage within the commodity cycle at any given time.

As a resource investor, it’s important to have some idea of whether you’re investing in a commodity at a time in the cycle when it’s favorable to do so. Some technical analysts ascribe four-year cycles to some markets, longer duration cycles to others, and shorter-term cycles that operate within longer-term cycles. The reality is that cycles can’t be counted on to run their course within any prescribed time frame.

There are historical patterns and tendencies, to be sure. Gold, for example, tends to be less correlated to swings in the economy than oil and industrial commodities. Gold can remain in a major trend for years or even decades.

Gold prices crashed from $850/oz in 1980 to $300/oz in 1982. It wasn’t until 2002 that gold crossed above the $300 level for the final time. The new gold bull market rose out of a 20-year base and reached a cyclical high of $1,900 in 2011. A four-year downturn followed, and since 2016 a new cyclical upturn appears to be taking shape.

Commodities Are Moving into a Diminishing Supply Phase

Chart reading is always a tenuous undertaking, but when combined with supply and demand fundamentals, it can help investors identify favorable times to be a buyer or seller. Right now it appears that gold, silver, oil, and other commodities are transitioning one by one into a period in the commodity cycle of diminishing supply.

Oil Market

In the case of crude oil, which is the most economically important and most widely followed commodity, the major storyline in recent months has been a supply glut.

North American shale production has swelled inventories in the U.S. But oil prices have been quietly advancing.

What does the market know that isn’t showing up in all the seemingly bearish headlines for oil? The longer-term supply outlook actually augers for shortfalls… and much higher prices. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), new oil discoveries in 2016 sunk to their lowest number in decades.

The oil industry slashed spending on developing new supplies in response to low prices. ExxonMobil, for one, cut its capital expenditures by 26% ($10 billion) in 2016.

The IEA warns that in order to offset recent declines and meet rising global demand, the oil industry needs to develop 18 billion new barrels every year between 2017 and 2025. Oil’s recent price range in the mid $40s to mid $50s per barrel doesn’t seem to be incentivizing the necessary new production capacity. Higher prices appear to be in store over the next few years.

Mining Is an Energy-Intensive Business

Higher energy costs would mean higher production costs for the gold and silver mining industry. Mines are already having to process more and more tons of earth to extract ounces of valuable metals.

According to metals analyst Steve St. Angelo, “The global silver mining industry will continue to process more ore to produce the same or less silver in the future. While the cost of energy has declined over the past few years, falling ore grades will continue to put pressure on the silver mining industry going forward.”

Mine Operators

Physical precious metals are, in a very real sense, a form of stored energy. Think of all the energy inputs required to move the earth, to separate relatively tiny quantities of precious metals from tons upon tons of rock and dirt, to refine the raw ore into pure gold, silver, platinum, or palladium, and finally to mint the precious metal into bullion products.

All those energy inputs are represented in the value that markets impute to precious metals. Trends in prices will reflect trends in production costs. And production costs will rise as it becomes harder and more energy intensive to mine metals.

A position in physical gold and silver should be viewed as a core long-term holding. However, there are some times in the commodity cycle that are more favorable than others for buying.

There are times when you may even want to sell a portion of your position. Right now, the cycle appears to be in the early stages of turning bullish for commodity prices – making it a favorable time to be taking out long positions in hard assets.

 Stefan Gleason