The under-the-radar gains for several corners of the precious and base metals markets are drawing wider attention as buying heats up. Although year-to-date gains aren’t uniformly positive for all corners of the metals market, recent trading action suggests a bull sweep is possible in the weeks ahead as momentum builds, based on set of exchange-traded products through yesterday’s close (July 23).
The top performer at the moment: silver via the iShares Silver Trust ETF (NYSEARCA:SLV), which is up 26.1% so far this year. Gold had been leading the way for metals in 2020 – based on the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (NYSEARCA:GLD) – but SLV’s sharp rally in recent days now puts it in the lead.
Some analysts say that an increase in demand from the broader investment world is driving silver’s rally. “The reason I believe that might have happened is one, there’s talk of scarcity, but two, the millennials, people that have put money into the US equity markets that are in their thirties and forties, realize they need a safe haven asset in case there is a bubble,” says Gary Wagner, editor of TheGoldForecast.com.
“Silver finally graduated from being poor man’s gold,” advises George Gero, managing director at RBC Wealth Management.
Gold is no longer the top performer, but it’s hardly suffering. The world’s favorite precious metal is ahead in 2020 by 24.7% via GLD – just slightly behind SLV.
The growing appetite for gold this year, according to one analyst, is linked to renewed concerns of fiscal and monetary excess. As central banks and governments around the world ramp up stimulus to offset the coronavirus crisis, goldbugs say that the case for a hard-metal haven is strengthening.
“The basic logic has to do with the introduction of further fiscal stimulus… in the European Union, and we’re talking again about further fiscal stimulus in the United States,” says DailyFx currency strategist Ilya Spivak. “Interest rates are not really expected to go higher, and the likely response is seen as inflation.”
Another school of thought advises that gold’s main driver is the ongoing descent of real (inflation-adjusted) interest rates into negative territory. As The Capital Spectator pointed out in late June, the slide in real yields tends to support higher gold prices. Consider the 5-year inflation-indexed Treasury, for example: the current yield continues to trade deep in the red – negative 1.10% as of yesterday (July 23).
The falling US dollar is another bullish factor for gold. Historically, the metal and the greenback exhibit a negative correlation and so the dollar’s slide – US Dollar Index is down 1.5% this year – is bullish for gold.
Palladium (NYSEARCA:PALL) and copper (NYSEARCA:CPER) are also posting year-to-date gains, although mildly so compared with gold and silver. Nonetheless, the concurrent rise of gold, silver and copper is unusual, The Economist notes: “An uncertain and uneven recovery explains their skyward leap.”
Despite copper’s modest rally this year, two ETF benchmarks tracking precious and base metals continue to show a wide divergence for year-to-date results. The Invesco DB Precious Metals ETF (NYSEARCA:DBP), which holds gold and silver, is ahead by 24.7% in 2020. By contrast, the Invesco DB Base Metals ETF (NYSEARCA:DBB) – a portfolio of copper, aluminum and zinc futures – has slumped 2.7% so far this year. Although copper’s been rallying since April, aluminum and other base metals have yet to join the party.
Editor’s Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.