Pressures on the Gold Sector – Sentiment on Gold

In our opinion, there are three major reasons why gold stocks have – so far – failed to properly reflect the recent recovery in the gold price. The first one is that many market participants have become convinced that gold prices are now set to go lower. We have recently written about the CoT report; last Friday the newest report was published, and small speculators have now gone net short gold futures for the first time since the late 1990s bear market. What is remarkable is that they have attained this net short position while the gold price has continued to rebound. Admittedly, the rebound doesn't look very convincing on a daily chart; it looks like a bearish flag, hence the continued propensity by speculators to add to shorts, respectively liquidate long positions. However, the  bedrock of large speculator net long positions which we have also discussed in above mentioned article remains intact, and what we said on that occasion continues to apply: it would be a bad sign if that were to change.

 


 

Gold CoT
Gold, commitments of traders: small speculators are now net short for the first time since the late 1990s – click to enlarge.

 


 

Gold, June Future
Gold, the June futures contract. The rebound looks like a bearish flag, and anecdotal evidence suggests that even gold bulls are convinced that the recent lows will have to be retested – click to enlarge.

 


 

Judging from anecdotal evidence – which has to be taken with a grain of salt, but shouldn't be dismissed out of hand – even most prominent gold bulls expect that the gold price will at least have to 'retest' the recent crash lows. They may well be right, as this is what usually happens after a precipitous decline. Prices eventually revisit the lows amid lower trading volume, and if they reverse back up, the retest can be considered successful. The 1987 crash in the stock market provides a good example:

 


 

DJI,1987 crash
The DJIA in 1987: crash, rebound and retest of the initial low – click to enlarge.

 


 

Keep in mind though that if a majority believes things to play out in a certain manner, the market has a habit of complicating things by defying such expectations. Whether that will happen in this case remains to be seen.

 

 

Weak Earnings and Downgrades

The second reason is the fact that most of the earnings reported so far have once again been weak (i.e., they came in 'below expectations'). Tied in with that is reason number three: now that gold stocks have already declined by about 60%, a great many sell side analysts have collectively decided it would be a good time to slap downgrades on them. To be sure, there have been a number of analysts who have acted in more timely fashion in downgrading the sector, but for the most part the usual herd behavior could be observed: they upgraded many stocks after they had risen a lot and now they downgrade them after they have already collapsed, i.e., when it is sure to help absolutely no-one anymore. Over the past two weeks it hailed downgrades on many gold stocks, which has contributed to their inability to put together a half-way decent bounce.

However, as the late 2008/early 2009 period most recently demonstrated, such clusters of downgrade action are often a contrary signal. Once stocks are rated   'hold' or 'sell' across an entire sector by a majority of analysts, the pressure from that source can no longer get any worse. Moreover, whenever analysts are herding and believe only one outcome to be possible, they are usually wrong. We would rather trust the opinion of insiders, as they are putting their own money at risk. As far as we can tell, analysts risk nothing by being wrong, especially when the entire herd turns out to have been wrong at some point down the road (there is safety in numbers). A recent example for how wrong they often are when their opinions are unanimous were the 22 'strong buy' ratings and the lone 'sell' rating on AAPL when the stock hit the $700 level.  By the time the first rating changes were contemplated, the stocks had already lost $250.

 

Mining Costs

Apart from the fact that everybody now 'knows' that gold can only go down further, one of the things that are apparently being extrapolated indefinitely into the future are rising mining costs. However, as this recent article at Seeking Alpha suggests, this view may actually by misguided, as many major input cost items have stopped going up further or have even begun to decline.

There are a number of reasons to believe that this trend might continue. For one thing, recent weakness in commodity prices has caused many mining companies to shelve expansion projects or delay them considerably – often coupled with plans to downsize new projects and lower the associated capital costs. Regarding gold specifically, its real price (or purchasing power) tends to rise during times of economic weakness and/or declining economic confidence. A long term chart of the gold-CRB ratio shows that in spite of its recent decline, gold actually continues to sport very high purchasing power in terms of commodities:

 


 

gold-CRB-10year
Gold relative to the CRB index over the past 10 years – click to enlarge.

 


 

The prices of a number of items that are quite important for mining continue to be rather high however, as e.g. the chart below shows, which we have taken from the above mentioned article at SA:

 


 

tires
Prices of truck tires have risen relentlessly since the year 2000. However, since late 2011 they have begun to move sideways – click to enlarge.

 


 

Truck tires are an important input cost for large scale open pit mines. Many of the large scale/low grade open pit mining projects currently in the development stage are undergoing revisions in light of higher initial and sustaining capital costs. E.g. Kinross has scaled down the size of its Tasiast mine development and has delayed development in order to identify ways to improve project economics; it is just one example of many.

Miners of base metals such as iron ore and copper also have to contend with lower prices for their products and an increasingly uncertain outlook due to the  recent decline in China's reported growth rate. Given the dubiousness of Chinese economic statistics, it is a good bet that actual growth is much lower than reported growth. While the extent of the discrepancy cannot be ascertained, one thing is certain: marginal demand for copper has definitely declined.

LME warehouse stocks have recently reached a new high, above the high recorded at the peak of the 2008-2009 financial crisis. What is very odd about this is that it coincides with strength in global stock markets this time around. Usually strong increases in LME copper inventories have gone hand in hand with declining economic confidence  – the previous inventory peaks have been associated with the trough in stocks in 2009 and with the two major flare-ups of the euro area debt crisis.

In any case, whatever the reason for the current dichotomy may be, the fact remains that many copper mine development projects will probably be delayed as a result. In the future, cost pressures should therefore ease.

 


 

lme-warehouse-copper-5y-Large
LME warehouse stocks of copper over the past 5 years. Previous peaks have tended to coincide with falling economic confidence and falling stock prices – click to enlarge.

 


 

Conclusion – Real Gold Price More Important Than the Nominal Price

One thing one must always keep in mind is that nominal gold prices are not  really relevant to the earnings of gold mining companies. What is relevant is the real price of gold, or the difference between their input costs and revenues. The best gains in gold stocks occurred early in the bull market when the world fell into recession in 2000-2002.

At the time, nominal gold prices rose very little compared to the prices of gold mining stocks. What drove stock prices up was the rise in the real price of gold. Nominal increases in the gold price may have a supportive psychological effect, but the market tends to produce the biggest rallies in gold stocks when gold's real price is rising or expected to rise. Much will therefore hinge on whether the idea that input costs will continue to stall or even begin to decline will turn out to be correct. Most analysts will probably miss the turning point, so it is best to pay attention to input costs and not wait for them to issue upgrades (those often enough tend to be more useful as sell signals). It is in fact possible that the turning point has already occurred.

 


 

HUI, all data chart
A long term weekly chart of the HUI index. The weekly RSI is at its lowest level ever – click to enlarge.

 


 

 

Charts by: Sharelynx, Sentimentrader, BarCharts, BigCharts, Kitco, Economagic


 

 
 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 
 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke

   
 

2 Responses to “Why Gold Stocks Remain Subdued”

  • jimmyjames:

    Gold limping along- reviling none of its secrets as usual-as Richard Russell said… gold always does what it should do.. it just never does it when we think it should–

    • JasonEmery:

      Jimmy–Check out the following chart: go to stockcharts.com, and put in $gold (spot gold) for the symbol, and look at about 6 months worth of daily prices, with candlesticks. What really sticks out, other than the 2-day price collapse, is the size of the candlesticks, post crash.

      Look at the size of the candlesticks, pre-crash. The vast majority had daily price swings (from intra-day top to bottom) of no more than $10 or $15.

      Now look post crash. The average candle is 2.5 or 3 times as big, although the candle size has shortened a little lately. It is quite apparent that ‘they’, whoever ‘they’ is, has decided to cap gold below $1500.

      Antal Fekete has written many times on the proper way to manage a gold mine. He says, if I recall correctly, that the very best ore should be saved for a rainy day, and as the ‘real’ gold price, as Pater calls it, rises, lower and lower grades should be mined, taking advantage of the opportunity to unload what would be submarginal ore at a lower ‘real’ price.

      My guess is that mines are not managed in that way, and a lot of mines will now be uneconomic, and gold share prices won’t rise too much if gold prices go sideways, or even rise a little.

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • Gold Sector: Positioning and Sentiment
      A Case of Botched Timing, But... When last we wrote about the gold sector in mid February, we discussed historical patterns in the HUI following breaches of its 200-day moving average from below. Given that we expected such a breach to occur relatively soon, the post turned out to be rather ill-timed. Luckily we always advise readers that we are not exactly Nostradamus (occasionally our timing is a bit better). Below is a chart of the HUI Index depicting the action since the January...
  • India: The next Pakistan?
      India’s Rapid Degradation This is Part XI of a series of articles (the most recent of which is linked here) in which I have provided regular updates on what started as the demonetization of 86% of India's currency. The story of demonetization and the ensuing developments were merely a vehicle for me to explore Indian institutions, culture and society.   The Modimobile is making the rounds amid a flower shower. [PT] Photo credit: PTI Photo   Tribal cultures face...
  • The Long Run Economics of Debt Based Stimulus
      Onward vs. Upward Something both unwanted and unexpected has tormented western economies in the 21st century.  Gross domestic product (GDP) has moderated onward while government debt has spiked upward.  Orthodox economists continue to be flummoxed by what has transpired.   What happened to the miracle? The Keynesian wet dream of an unfettered fiat debt money system has been realized, and debt has been duly expanded at every opportunity.  Although the fat lady has so far only...
  • Welcome to Totalitarian America, President Trump!
      Trump vs. the Deep State If there had been any doubt that the land of the free and home of the brave is now a totalitarian society, the revelations that its Chief Executive Officer has been spied upon while campaigning for that office and during his brief tenure as president should now be allayed.   Image adapted from the cover of “Deep State #5” - depicting an assassin from the future   President Trump joins the very crowded list of opponents of the American...
  • March to Default
      Style Over Substance “May you live in interesting times,” says the ancient Chinese curse.  No doubt about it, we live in interesting times.  Hardly a day goes by that we’re not aghast and astounded by a series of grotesque caricatures of the world as at devolves towards vulgarity. Just this week, for instance, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters tweeted, “Get ready for impeachment.”   Well, Maxine Waters is obviously right – impeaching the president is an urgent...
  • Boosting Stock Market Returns With A Simple Trick
      Systematic Trading Based on Statistics Trading methods based on statistics represent an unusual approach for many investors. Evaluation of a security's fundamental merits is not of concern, even though it can of course be done additionally. Rather, the only important criterion consists of typical price patterns determined by statistical examination of past trends.   Fundamental considerations such as the valuation of stocks are not really relevant to the statistics-based trading...
  • Searching for Truth
      Heresy or Truth? RANCHO SANTANA, NICARAGUA – In the fifth century, Christian scholars counted 88 different heresies. Arianism. Eutychianism. Nestorianism. If there was a way to “offend” God, they had a name for it. One group of “heretics” argued that there was no such thing as “original sin.” Another denied the trinity. And another claimed Jesus was not divine. Which one had the truth?   Depiction of the first Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, convened by Emperor...
  • Why the 21st Century Sucks - Turtles All the Way Down
      A Truly Sucky Century BALTIMORE – What an awful century! Worst we’ve ever seen. Household incomes are down. Employment is down, with 7 million people in the U.S. of working age without jobs. Productivity growth is down. GDP growth is down – to only about 0.5% per capita last year. Even life expectancies are down. Drug overdoses are up. Suicides are up. One out of every eight children lives in a family getting food stamps. One of out every eight adults takes psychoactive drugs...
  • Gold and the Fed's Looming Rate Hike in March
      Long Term Technical Backdrop Constructive After a challenging Q4 in 2016 in the context of rising bond yields and a stronger US dollar, gold seems to be getting its shine back in Q1. The technical picture is beginning to look a little more constructive and the “reflation trade”, spurred on further by expectations of higher infrastructure spending and tax cuts in the US, has thus far also benefited gold. From a technical perspective, there are indications that the low at $1045.40,...
  • The Unstable Empire – A Campfire Tale
      Campfire Tale   Caesar: The Ides of March are come. Soothsayer: Ay, Caesar, but not gone. — Julius Caesar, Shakespeare   GRANADA, NICARAGUA – Today, we stop the horses and circle the wagons. For 19 years, we have been rolling along, exploring, discovering. We began with the assumption that we didn’t “know” anything - so we kept our eyes open. Now we know even less.   Famous people who knew nothing and were not shy to admit it: Sergeant Schultz...
  • Off the Beaten Path in Mesoamerica
      Greeted by Rooster There’s an endearing quality to a steadfast rooster call at the crack of dawn when overheard from a warm country farmhouse.  There’s a reassuring charm that comes with the committed gallinaceous greeting of daybreak that’s particularly suited to a rural ambiance.  The allure of a morning cock-a-doodle-doo somehow falls flat in all other settings.   Good morning everyone! Before meteorological forecasts were available on TV and smart phones, people...
  • Why Silver Went Down – Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Rumor-Mongering vs. Data The question on the lips of everyone who plans to exchange his metal for dollars—widely thought to be money—is why did silver go down? The price of silver in dollar terms dropped from about 18 bucks to about 17, or about 5 percent.   Reportedly silver was already assassinated in the late 19th century... so last week they must have assassinated its corpse. [PT] Illustration taken from 'Coin's Financial School'   The facile answer is...

Austrian Theory and Investment

Support Acting Man

Own physical gold and silver outside a bank

Archive

j9TJzzN

350x200

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com