Has gold finally bottomed?

Let me start by saying I think it’s hard for anyone to call a bottom.  Many experts do, and often they do so with the guidance of charts, fundamental analysis and other informed speculation.  I am no expert, but I do think we’re finally seeing a turn in the precious metals markets based on two critical factors.

The US dollar and gold have rallied together as of late.  This doesn’t often happen, especially at multi-year highs in the dollar.  But it has for the past couple of days.  And during very large US dollar rallies.  As you can see in the chart below, for the past six months when the US dollar rallied, gold and silver were sold.

US dollar chart

This is a convincing indication that the precious metals markets are looking beyond the myopic view of the US dollar index (which really only measures the Euro and Yen weakness/strength vs. the US dollar) and seeing that rising risks demand a safe haven.  It may also indicate that the US dollar rally is beginning to lose its luster.

We also saw that the tax loss selling last year did not push gold and silver to new lows, or break down the miners further.  This is a very powerful indication that sentiment bottomed out in the October/November bloodbath that was likely a capitulative event.

I am not ready to say that we are turning right now, but I do think that there is a good chance of it.  In essence, if the precious metals markets can look beyond the dollar, or better yet, the dollar can begin to give back its rally from late 2014, we will be in for a year of renewed strength in precious metals, and their miners.

US dollar short vs long

The US dollar trade is as crowded as a trade can get and so many are short Euros and Yen that any unexpected surprises will roil the forex markets.  But gold and silver are telling us that doesn’t matter.  That they can look beyond forex and see that the risks are strong enough to warrant a significant bid (and most likely short covering — we’ll see the COT tomorrow).

Gold chart (daily)

From a technical standpoint I’d like to see gold trade above $1,260.00 on a sustained rally (closing the week on Friday above that level would be critical).  Ideally this price action would occur by the close of the second week of January, 2015.  After that I believe we’ll see some short covering and less aggressive posturing from the sellers counting on another waterfall capitulation in prices.

If gold can make its way back to $1,400 by the end of the first quarter of 2015, then I do believe we’ll see the momentum chasers come back to the table and start driving prices higher through leveraged speculation.  This may also renew the appetite from Asian buyers for physical bullion as the low prices have turned from a positive to a perceived negative as of late.

Canadian dollar may rally

With the US poised to announce multiple government endorsed packages  to stimulate the economy and assist banks, it is likely that a dramatic weakening of the US dollar will occur.  The Canadian dollar seems especially well positioned to rally, perhaps even back to par with the US dollar.

Canadian dollar (FXC)

We can see in the above chart a bottoming process in the Canadian dollar beginning to take shape. Now that oil is also potentially bottoming and some commodities are finding strength, the trend serves the commodity-driven Canadian dollar well.  Watch the USDCAD pair and the FXC Canadian dollar ETF.

Long term outlook for 2009

Just when a collective sigh of relief was breathed about 2008 ending and a fresh year beginning, 2009 was ushered in by the worst ever index performance in the S&P 500 and Dow Jones 30 for a January.  This was certainly not encouraging for those that believe in the adage, “So goes January, so goes the year”.

Outlook not so good

2009 promises investors and traders one thing.  Uncertainty.  While the market has declined nearly 50% peak to trough, the deleveraging process has not been completed.  Banks still have far too much common stock equity vs. assets on book.   Usually recoveries in any stock market are led by financials, so this turn around prospect seems bleak until the equity to assets ratio improves.

Inflation prospects seem to be rearing their ugly head again, as precious metals are catching a strong bid.  Oil seems to have bottomed.  Gas prices are on the rise again for consumers.  Treasury bonds are selling off.  The baltic dryships index has been recovering based on Asian demand for raw materials.  Certainly ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) has created the possibility of a new carry trade.

Recovery, what recovery?

Most predict that the US markets will tread through a slow, “L-shaped” recovery because of the serious damage to credit and stock markets, and most importantly, confidence.  Nearly $9 trillion is sitting on the sidelines in virtually zero yield short term treasuries and money markets.  That cash has yet to be deployed, and was originally retracted from equities, because of a flight to safety from confidence being lost.

The smart money is watching China and Taiwan, as the markets there have enjoyed a significant recovery from their lows and forming a bottoming pattern.  With the US dollar nearly free to borrow for currency traders, the possibility of the dollar becoming a carry trade currency is quite real.  Long term prospects for the dollar are weak so traders would not feel as though their principle loan is going to increase from dollar strength.

History in the making or repeating itself?

The possibility is striking because when Japan suffered a similar crisis in the early 90s, their currency suffered this very fate.  The carry trade in Japan caused most financial institutions to move money outside of Japan rather than invest in the country and assist its recovery.  Infact, Japanese equity markets have never recovered and still thrash around making significant lower highs and lower lows in recent months.

In my opinion, this is indicative of a significant risk to recovery in the US markets.  Already gold is more valuable per ounce than the S&P index.  Other stock markets are outperforming the US market on their recoveries.  Will the trend continue?

US dollar index showing head and shoulders

The US dollar index is forming an all too familiar pattern.  This is certainly a result of wreckless monetary policy turning deflation in to a potential stagflationary situation. At this point we recommend purchasing commodities (DYY is a good ETF because it is 2x leveraged and well diversified) and other currencies while there are reasonably priced opportunities.  We like the Euro and Yen for this trade.

US dollar index

US dollar index shows head and shoulders pattern

The courageous may consider purchasing commodities stocks as they will likely participate, but the future of the equities market is not necessarily certain as the recession is deepening.  Today’s unemployment claims were higher than the expected 525k at 573k.  That is a very bad sign that the worst is far from over in terms of how many layoffs we can expect.