Important shift in the market yesterday. Maybe.
And it looks like the market is following through today. A stronger “Maybe.”
Yesterday, as on most days recently, the dollar was up and the euro down on fears that the euro debt crisis is escalating. That’s been a recipe for a decline in gold and silver too as the negative of the strength of the dollar outweighed the allure of these commodities as safe havens in the crisis.
Yesterday, however, when the euro crisis stepped up in fear as the financial markets increasingly worried about Spain, the dollar still rose but so did gold and silver and, most interestingly to me, copper. February gold closed up $18.70 an ounce, March silver was up 95.7 cents an ounce, and March copper was up 5.95 cents a pound.
Today you might have expected gold, silver, and copper to have sold off in the face of a strong rally in equities. Who needs safety, after all, when stocks are gaining? But instead February gold closed up $6.90 an ounce, silver 19.8 cents, and copper 12.2 cents.
A day or two doesn’t make a trend, of course, but if you’re looking for evidence of a turn in correlation between the dollar, gold and silver, and fear, you might find it in the increase in the price of copper. Copper trades as both an industrial and a speculative commodity. A rise in copper prices, when there’s been no real change in news on inflation and growth policy from China argues to me that traders have moved back into copper, following on the lead from gold and silver.
Right now the biggest bang for the buck in gold and silver—if you think the trend has indeed turned—comes in what are called the junior producers, smaller and less seasoned companies that the Barricks (ABX) and Newmonts (NEM) that make up the senior part of the industry. (The juniors in the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (GDXJ) are up 58% in 2010 versus a 30% gain on the seniors in the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX).)
The shares of junior companies such as NovaGold Resources (NG), Alamos Gold (which trades as AGI.TO in Toronto), and silver producer Hecla Mining (HL) all show strong technical charts right now.
Full disclosure: I don’t own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this post in my personal portfolio. The mutual fund I manage, Jubak Global Equity Fund, may or may not now own positions in any stock mentioned in this post. The fund did own shares of Goldcorp, Kinross Gold, and Newmont Mining as of the end of the September quarter. For a full list of the stocks in the fund as of the end of the most recent quarter see the fund’s portfolio at http://jubakfund.com/about-the-fund/holdings/ )