Watching Silver For A Bottom In Gold

Includes: GDX, GLD, SLV
by: Cam Hui, CFA

In a recent post (see What to do about gold?) I suggested that a tradeable bottom for gold may be near, but to wait for some signs of price stabilization:

Personally, I would be inclined to step aside for now and watch how this trade develops. Gold could have great upside potential once it bottoms, but prudence calls for waiting for some signs of stabilization before getting long. I would rather miss the first 10-20% move than lose another 50% should I get long prematurely.

It appears that we are seeing signs of a panic bottom and some signs of stability. The chart of GLD is showing the classic signs of a capitulation bottom:

The same goes for GDX:

As much as my inner trader is itching to jump onto the long side with both feet, a falling silver/gold ratio is flashing a caution signal. The chart below shows the silver/gold ratio as the solid line and the gold price as the candlestick chart. If silver is the high-beta version of gold, i.e. the poor man's gold, why is the silver/gold ratio continuing to fall here?

In the last couple of instances where gold had bottomed, the silver/gold ratio bottomed at about the same time. Here is the 2008 bottom:

Here is 2004:

The most charitable explanation that 2013 corresponds to the 2001 gold bottom, where the silver/gold ratio continued to fall. As the gold price stabilized, rallied and then fell back to test the bottom, the silver/gold ratio stabilized, though it was several months late in confirming the start of the secular gold bull.

The markets in 2011 and 2013 may not be directly comparable. The year 2001 was the end of a multi-decade secular gold bear market. Today, the price of gold peaked out in late 2012 and fell back below important technical levels after a long bull market.

Bottom line: We are likely seeing a short-term bottom for gold here. On the other hand, don't be so sure about the intermediate term trend. There may be more downside to come. We'll just have to watch and wait to see how some of these technical patterns resolve themselves.

Disclaimer: Cam Hui is a portfolio manager at Qwest Investment Fund Management Ltd. ("Qwest"). This article is prepared by Mr. Hui as an outside business activity. As such, Qwest does not review or approve materials presented herein. The opinions and any recommendations expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or recommendations of Qwest.

None of the information or opinions expressed in this blog constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or other instrument. Nothing in this article constitutes investment advice and any recommendations that may be contained herein have not been based upon a consideration of the investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific recipient. Any purchase or sale activity in any securities or other instrument should be based upon your own analysis and conclusions. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Either Qwest or Mr. Hui may hold or control long or short positions in the securities or instruments mentioned.