SPY vs. GLD vs. SLV, How 2012 Has Shaped Up

With Q3 officially in the books, 2012 has been quite a year for investors. After posting one of the best first quarters in recent memory, analysts and experts were worried of a slowdown shortly after. But just as the economy looked like it may be heading back to the doldrums, Ben Bernanke rode in with QE3 to attempt to save the day. We have seen a number of assets go on tears, while others have been left in the dust. The commodity industry has been especially volatile, as we have seen assets like natural gas and grains each go on their own respective bull runs.

Two of the most popular commodities in the world, bar none, are silver and gold. Many try to pit these investments against major equities to hedge against weak markets as well as inflation, but how do their performances compare during a bull run for markets? Below, we compare the performances of three of the most popular ETFs in the world to give you a better view of 2012 thus far [for more commodity ETF news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].

SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) – 15.4%

As the S&P 500 has been making its way towards historical highs, this fund has profited. SPY charged higher to start off the year before making a pullback in May. From there, the fund has risen slowly but surely all the way up through the QE3 announcement. The only thing left for investors to do is to wait and see if the QE rally is able to hold steam for an extended period, or if this big name ETF will retreat in the coming months.

SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) – 10.5%

The world’s second-largest ETF, GLD offers exposure to physical bullion and has long been an investor favorite. Though many accuse the fund of being a fraud, it has still managed to garner more than $74 billion in assets and trading over 11 million times each day. Though GLD has yet to turn in a negative year, is has been trailing its equity counterpart through the first three quarters. It should be noted that GLD has maintained a relatively low correlation of 0.34 to SPY, keeping pace with its use as a safe haven. Now that QE3 has gone into place the returns for GLD may look drastically different in just a few months, so keep an eye on this ETF [see also Does GLD Really Hold Gold, Or is it a Scam?].

iShares Silver Trust (SLV) – 16.4%

This physically-backed behemoth takes the cake as far as performance is concerned, just barely edging out the 500 largest companies in the country. To some it may not come as a surprise, as silver has been historically more volatile than both gold and major equities, and that volatility goes both ways. There have been times when both gold and silver have performed well only to see silver struggle. For now, silver remains historically undervalued in comparison to gold, allowing big name experts like Jim Rogers to justify this white metal over gold. SLV has held a correlation of 0.29 to SPY for 2012.

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

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