The precious metals industry has experienced a strong couple of years with record low U.S. interest rates and several bouts of quantitative easing. As an alternative currency, precious metals have benefited as an inflation shield, while the global flight to safety made it one of the only reliable safe haven investment destinations, aside from U.S. Treasuries [for more precious metals news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
The battle for the crown in the precious metals world continues to heat up, as silver has gotten off to a strong start this year. With one month of 2013 officially in the books, silver has gained 3.4% (despite a sell-off towards the end of the month) compared to gold’s -0.5% performance. This year will be especially interesting for these two metals as the fate of the global economy will likely have a big sway as to which hard assets finished the year on top [for more silver news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
The bull parade continues on the equity front as investors have been hesitant to take profit even after Wall Street’s massive run-up at the start of 2013. Commodities, on the other hand, have lagged behind across the board as improving confidence over the global recovery has prompted many to jump into riskier assets, with upbeat earnings results further driving equity inflows. While precious metals may continue to face headwinds as optimism takes its toll on the safe havens, industrial metals like silver could have brighter days ahead as a turnaround in the global economy implies growing demand for raw materials [for more market news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
JP Morgan (JPM) can breathe easier today having avoided charges of a silver manipulation scheme; just one in the line of many claims of less-than-ethical practices from one of the “Big Four”. A judge found that the case offered compelling evidence, but when all was said and done, failed to present any material evidence that JPM was specifically involved in the manipulation of the COMEX silver markets [for more silver news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
It really is no exaggeration to say that human beings have valued gold for as long as they’ve been able to get their hands on it. Burial sites going back to the 4th millennium BC include skillfully wrought gold artifacts, and weights of gold were used in commerce well before the Lydians started minting coins around 600 BC [for more gold news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Silver has always been the redheaded stepchild of gold throughout human history. While its beauty, scarcity and utility have certainly been appreciated since pre-history, silver just isn’t as rare as gold and has never been esteemed as highly. For much of history, though, silver has been money. While the average laborer (or peasant) probably never saw a single gold coin in their hands in their lifetime, silver money was a different story [for more silver ETF news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
For the most part, silver has had a rather impressive yet volatile year. Often overshadowed by its golden competitor, this shiny metal has been able to gain some significant traction over the last four months to make up for its summer dip. And as such, two popular exchange-traded funds have rewarded those investors patient enough to ride out the swings: iShares’ Silver Trust (SLV) and Global X’s Silver Miner ETF (SIL). Though each fund takes a vastly different approach to the silver market, a close look at their performance on a year-to-date basis shows why these two picks are among investor’s top choices [for more silver ETF news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter]:
Precious metals investors have been on a wild ride this year, as economies pulled back and forth and a number of major events had these metals all over the board. This year saw the announcement of QE3, QE4 and the re-election of president Barack Obama; all of which had big implications for precious metals. But what many investors are concerned about is not necessarily how these commodities performed as a whole, but who outshined the rest. Below, we put the two most popular PMs, gold and silver, head-to-head to see who took the crown in 2012 [for more precious metals news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Two years ago, ETF Securities launched the first ever physically-backed precious metals ETF that focuses exclusively on silver, platinum and palladium. Since its inception in December 2010, WITE has accumulated just over $40 million in assets under management and trades on average over 3,000 shares daily. As the global market moves steadily into recovery, WITE remains a strong and moderately-priced portfolio for commodity investors [for more precious metals news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
As 2012 nears its close, investors are beginning to look toward a new year, one that will hopefully be less volatile for the commodity world. The precious metals world, in particular, saw a fair amount of volatility through out the past year as this elite group of four has rarely had a quiet period. With the approaching fiscal cliff and economic uncertainty fresh in the minds of many, predicting where these commodities will end up next year has become a hobby of analysts all across the market [for more precious metals news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].