Originally published September 5, 2019
The stock market is rallying and precious metals are correcting sharply today. The prevailing trade is risk-on once again. The prevailing trade is risk-on once again. The main driver is news that the U.S. and China said they would hold talks in Washington during early October, reigniting hopes for an eventual trade truce.
But anyone paying attention knows how this works.
With the market rally sputtering, failing on three attempts to break out to a new high, the administration had to once again hint that a resolution is near. So they announced that a meeting will take place at some point at least a month from now. Jump? How high? This sent the Dow rallying 400 points higher and Wall Street cracked open the champagne once again.
Meanwhile, the gold price plummeted by $40, settling at a $34 decline to $1,518. This represents a 2.2% drop for gold and is the largest single-day drop in nearly three years. The short-term trend channel remains intact, with gold finding support above $1,500 and bouncing nearly $15 higher.
Silver took it on the chin even more severely. The silver price is down 85 cents or 4.4%, doubling the percentage decline of gold. Silver is trading at $18.73, giving back most of the massive rally it enjoyed yesterday.
Mining stocks are also falling sharply today, with the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEARCA:GDX) down 5%. This ETF is still up 6% in the past month and 44% year to date.
Eventually, I think Trump will give in enough to get a trade agreement finalized with China. The United States is heading into the next Presidential election cycle and Trump needs a strong economy and upward trending stock market for re-election.
But it remains doubtful that a resolution will be reached this month, next month or even this year. Every other hint that a trade deal was near ended in disappointment. Both sides seem to be dug in and willing to take some economic pain in order to defend their pride and position the outcome as a win for their country.
So, I would caution reading too much into this news event. I suspect that the stock rally will run out of steam within a matter of days and that precious metals will bounce and continue much higher by year-end.
Therefore, this dip in gold, silver and mining stocks is best viewed as a buying opportunity. I wouldn't necessarily go "all in" at this moment, but I plan to start increasing exposure over the next few days.
The major catalyst for the precious metals market is the Federal Reserve reversing course on rate hikes. It has become clear that they cannot raise rates without crashing the economy. So, they are back to cutting rates and new research from Bank of America Merrill Lynch suggests that the 2020s will begin with the lowest interest rates in 5,000 years!
Yes, you read that correctly. The report states that central banks around the world have cut interest rates 731 times since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Since 2009, the world's five big central banks have purchased $12.4 trillion in assets as well.
Global growth is slowing. The August ISM Manufacturing Index showed contraction at 49.1 vs. consensus estimates of 51.3. This is the first time in nearly 4 years that manufacturing has contracted. Consumer sentiment just sank to the lowest level in nearly 3 years.
Central banks are going to continue with more rate cuts and fresh bond-buying to keep the markets afloat. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell admitted that the global economic outlook "has been deteriorating." He pledged yet again, to "act as appropriate to sustain the expansion." Trump will keep the pressure on him to remain highly accommodative.
It is also worth noting that Bank of England governor Mark Carney proposed a radical vision for the financial system that would include a Libra-like virtual currency to end the dollar's dominance. Global debt is soaring and we have a record $16 trillion in negative-yielding debt.
These are truly unprecedented times that will not end well for bubble assets such as stocks, bonds, and fiat currencies. This is why we think investors should not pay too much attention to proposed meetings that are more than a month away or believe this somehow signals an end to the trade wars. And even if a trade agreement is reached, the currency wars will continue and the necessity of negative real interest rates will not go away.
In this environment, we believe it is more important than ever to hedge your portfolio with safe-haven assets. And when the irrational markets give us a $40 drop in the gold price, we think it is best not to panic-sell, but to use the opportunity to increase exposure at discounted prices.
Editor's Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.