Gold has been in an extraordinary multi-year slump. From its peak of around $1,900 a few years ago, the shiny metal has sunk into a multi-year bear market, recently settling at around $1,200 an ounce. However, a couple of factors are coming together that may mean the bad times are over. The first is that there has been consolidation in the mining sector, but secondly, because the pending trade wars have meant that central banks have been buying more gold as a safe haven. This type of demand rose 8% since last year, and gold buying by central banks is off to its best start since 2015.
FINSUM: Unfortunately, we have to disagree with this article. Buying gold as we move into a higher-rate and stronger Dollar period contradicts all the fundamentals of the market. Furthermore, we think if gold was going to benefit from trade war fears, it would have already started.
The oil market is continuing to thrive and the near-term outlook is strong. WTI oil, the US benchmark is currently trading at over $72 per barrel, while Brent, the world’s benchmark is at $80. The commodity is moving higher as markets are worried it will not be easy for producers to easily offset the losses of production in Venezuela and Iran, meaning supply may be constrained. OPEC generally agrees that when oil gets to $80 or above, it crimps demand.
FINSUM: The near term outlook for oil looks strong because of renewed US sanctions on Iran. However, in the longer term, the trade war seems likely to take a toll on emerging market economies, which will send oil demand and prices sagging.
Gold has been in the doldrums for a long time (and we mean long). The shiny metal is still down over 35% from its peak in 2011, and it has lost 8% this year. However, Barron’s is arguing that it is time for gold to shine. They argue that since gold is currently very cheap relative to other asset classes and inflation is increasing, the metal is poised to make a comeback. Gold has historically been a good hedge against inflation, which may drive its renewed appeal as inflation rises. The metal is currently trading around $1,200 per ounce.
FINSUM: The problem with this argument is that gold also tends to weaken as rates rise (because it has zero yield). So, how much will that offset any gains?
Many investors are simply unfazed by the current trade war erupting between the US and China (just look at share prices for evidence). However, even those who may be bullish on equities need to be worried for oil. While the increasing sanctions on Iran are supportive of prices, a trade war would likely be very bad. The reason why is that increasing tariffs would likely cause an economic downturn in emerging markets, which would then heavily sap oil demand, leading prices lower.
FINSUM: The oil and other commodity markets are demand-driven (and realistic) in a way that stocks aren’t. Watch them for where the economy is actually headed.
All precious metals have been in a tough bear market for several years. Rising rates and a strengthening Dollar have effectively blocked any recovery. The question then is when do they get cheap enough that it is a no-brainer buy? Perhaps right now. Gold’s ratio to silver just hit its highest point since 2008, making silver a buy. Silver has fallen 16% this year, almost double gold’s fall, making it the cheapest in a decade. Gold currently trades at over 80x silver, compared to a ratio of just above 30x in 2011.
FINSUM: The big question here is a catalyst. What would spark a rally? We are not specialists in precious metals, so we won’t comment, but we are sure it will take something significant to break a 6-year slump like this one.
For those paying attention, the metals market is sending some very worrying signs. Copper and other metals have been going through a rough patch, but yesterday seemed to really spell doom. Copper plunged into a bear market, zinc plummeted, and even gold took a big hit despite the panic across markets. Industrial commodities are a good bellwether for economic activity, and while the markets are partly plunging on worries over the Chinese economy, the big drops signal that the whole world could be in for a recession.
FINSUM: We are growing increasingly concerned about the message that metals markets are sending. The big drop across the board in industrial commodities is quite worrying. Hopefully it is a short-term overreaction to the trouble in emerging markets.