I have been out of the market since 5 April 2011. I believe eventually year-on-year the market will be positive and that opportunities should be capitalised on where value can be exercised. However, with significant gains YTD already and retaining core positions in AGQ, SLV and SU this still gives some exposure to the market. My concerns are that this earnings season is going to be received poorly. We can now see commodity expenses feeding into operating costs which is impacting earnings. The traditional feed downstream into higher price points has not yet taken effect entirely. Companies have had to absorb the majority of input price hikes. As discussed previously I believe there will be a lot of volatility around the time when the national debt ceiling requires increasing and that will impact the stock averages. Eventually it will be passed and that expected downside that is likely to occur prior to agreement should allow a better entry point with more visibility into year-end. Regarding the end of stimulus at the end of June 2011 this is more an issue of semantics rather than material information. The Fed is on a continuous quantitative easing program as it monetises Treasuries but the pace at which this occurs will fall. Without QE2 the incline upwards on the stock market curve will be less pronounced compared to when QE2 was launched. Right now, as discussed, protection should be sought either through an offsetting short position or option hedging to protect from the downside.
A brief note on Gold
I don’t believe there are any weak hands in gold as prices near new nominal highs. My exposure to silver is because of the higher price appreciation propensity the metal traditionally experiences when gold receives positive momentum. The approx 40% industrial component of silver also adds to this complex, however, the downside risk exposure with silver is also greater. Gold is essentially another currency, its price is a reflection of confidence in central banks and is an inverse of total fiat money output. My preference would be to hold precious metals physically rather than an ETF exchange although access to physical holdings is somewhat constrained.