After closing at record highs last week, stocks are falling for the second day in a row as corporate earnings—which lifted the market to new highs during the pandemic—start to show signs of weakness, all while speculative pockets of investor mania continue to rage on.
Shortly after the open, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 147 points, or 0.4%, while the S&P 500 also slipped 0.4%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which underperformed Monday, shed 0.3%.
Far outperforming any other stock in the S&P, shares of railroad company Kansas City Southern are soaring 15% after Canada National proposed to acquire the company in a $33.7 billion deal—topping Canadian Pacific’s $25 billion bid from last month and setting the stage for a potential bidding war.
Heading up the S&P’s losses, Marlboro parent Altria Group’s stock is slumping 6% after reports that Joe Biden’s administration (which has not commented on the matter) is considering a reduction in the amount of nicotine allowed in tobacco products.
On the earnings front, shares of IBM are climbing 2.5% after the software giant surpassed first-quarter expectations with revenue of $5.4 billion—bolstered by ongoing growth in its enterprise cloud business—and adjusted earnings of $2.2 billion.
Meanwhile, medical device company Abbott, which makes Covid-19 test kits, reported worse-than-expected revenue of $10.5 billion Tuesday morning as Covid-related sales fell nearly 10% quarter to quarter, sending shares down about 3%.
Reflecting ongoing uncertainty over the economic recovery, epicenter stocks—or those belonging to companies hard-hit by the pandemic—are also driving losses Tuesday, with chemicals firms Dupont De Nemours, cruise-liner Carnival Corp. and Delta Air Lines all falling about 2%.
“The reopening news is directionally positive, but the big problem is that many epicenter stocks have already seen their enterprise values return to pre-Covid levels, while some are well beyond where they stood in 2019,” Vital Knowledge Media Founder Adam Crisafulli said in a Tuesday morning note.
In a break from tradition, the Bank of Japan revealed Tuesday that it opted out of buying exchange-traded funds despite weakness in Japanese stocks. Crisafulli says the move is “perhaps the most important piece of news today” because it signals the central bank is dialing back its economic support—at a time when central banks around the world, including the Federal Reserve, have revved up their accommodative policy to help the economy and usher in new stock-market highs. Japan’s Nikkei 225, the nation’s benchmark index, fell 2% Tuesday and is now down 4.5% from a February high.
Boosted by massive fiscal stimulus, an accelerating vaccine rollout and falling unemployment, stocks have had a strong start to the year, with the S&P pulling off 23 new all-time highs in 2021, according to LPL Financial Chief Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “Many of our favorite sentiment gauges are becoming extremely bullish, which could be a near-term contrarian warning,” Detrick says of indicators like sentiment, at a three-year high, and low cash allocations from portfolio managers increasingly piling into stocks.
The price of dogecoin is soaring Tuesday, climbing back near record territory from last week, as retail traders around the world stage a rally around cannabis holiday 4/20. The cryptocurrency, modeled after a meme and originally developed as a joke, has climbed eight-fold over the past month, nabbing a staggering $49 billion market capitalization.
I’m a reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business journalism and economics while working for UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School as a marketing and communications assistant. Before Forbes, I spent a summer reporting on the L.A. private sector for Los Angeles Business Journal and wrote about publicly traded North Carolina companies for NC Business News Wire. Reach out at email@example.com.
Many factors affect the gold price, but Treasury yields have been the one factor that’s been weighing more heavily than the others of late. Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee doubled down on its dovish stance, boosting gold prices as a result.
The FOMC said it would allow inflation to run above its 2% target for an extended period, which weighed on the U.S. dollar. The dollar is generally negatively correlated with gold prices, so at first, the news was good for the yellow metal. However, Treasury yields have continued to rise in the days since the FOMC meeting last week, bringing the gold price back down again.
Treasury yields off and running
On Wednesday, Edward Moya of OANDA said gold prices continued to stabilize as emerging geopolitical risks triggered some safe-haven flows. Selling by gold exchange-traded funds continued for the 27th straight day, but Moya added that the selling pressure is starting to ease.
“Gold seems like it’s stuck doing the tango with Treasury yields,” Moya explained. “The preliminary Markit PMIs showed prices rose to the highest level since the series began, which helped push the 10-year Treasury yield higher and gold prices lower.”
The gold price continued to consolidate on Wednesday, demonstrating that investors didn’t expect much from the second day of testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Instead, they are focusing on the next round of Treasury auctions.
“Foreign demand is expected to remain strong, but if demand is surprisingly weak, the bond market selloff could intensify quickly,” Moya added.
Why gold and Treasury yields are negatively correlated
Gold and Treasuries are both considered safe-haven assets, so some correlation between them is clear. However, the gold price is correlated with bond prices, while bond prices are negatively correlated to yields. The lower the price on the bond, the higher the yield, and vice versa.
The reason for the negative correlation between gold and yields is because by holding gold, investors lose investing opportunities. Gold doesn’t bear any yield, so when bond yields go up, the gold price goes down because capital flows out of the yellow metal and into bonds.
In other words, investors receive a return on their bonds when the yield goes up, but they receive no such return on gold. Thus, although both are safe-haven assets, they perform different functions in a portfolio. When yields fall, gold becomes more attractive because there is no benefit to holding bonds.
Gold price ignores other economic data
Usually, the gold price reacts to economic data, but it has been shrugging off these numbers while Treasury yields have shifted higher and higher. For example, the Commerce Department said durable goods orders in the U.S. declined 1.1% last month, marking the first decline since April 2020. That suggests the months-long manufacturing rebound has paused. Usually, declining economic data would give the gold price a boost, but that didn’t happen on Wednesday.
Continued talk about inflation and the Fed’s statement that it will allow inflation to run above 2% for a while would normally be good for gold as well. Usually, such talk would be bad for bonds as well because it means that the yield investors earn on them will be worth less and less as time goes on. After all, it means the value of the dollar is reduced.
However, higher yields have remained the big story for gold. Bond yields typically go up when interest rates increase, which is exactly what has happened recently despite the Fed’s decision to hold the federal funds rate close to zero for the next few years. Mortgage rates and other interest rates have been climbing as banks tighten up their lending.
A contrarian case for gold
As higher Treasury yields drive the gold price lower, the story for gold has switched around. The once-bullish story has turned bearish due to the economic recovery and rising yields. As a result, the contrarian case is now a bullish one, as it seems nothing can stem the tide of falling gold prices.
However, not everyone is convinced that gold will continue to fall. There’s no guarantee that the economic recovery will occur as quickly as most investors are expecting. Economic data points have been mixed for some time, so it doesn’t look like the recovery is V-shaped as most were hoping.
Instead, the recovery has been K-shaped, with certain industries recovering while others stagnate. For example, e-commerce is booming, but hospitality and airlines are struggling. Meanwhile, unemployment numbers remain high, which would also usually be good for gold.
Gold technicals have improved, but it doesn’t matter
Saxo Bank Head of Commodity Strategy Ole Hansen said in a recent note that even though the technical outlook for gold has improved, it “remains unloved by investors.” Total holdings in gold ETFs slumped to a nine-month low at 3,148 tons, marking a 9% decline from the peak last year. Hedge funds have also cut their net long in COMEX gold futures close to its lowest level in two years at 42,000 lots, an 85% decline from the February 2020 peak.
Hansen added earlier this week that buyers returned to gold for the first time since January, and hedge funds’ net long position jumped 30% to 54,700 lots in a combination of new longs and short covering. However, the yellow metal couldn’t hang on as it continues to take a beating from yields.
Gold and silver both had a strong performance in 2020, with the gold price in US dollars rising 25.12% during the year, and the silver price in US dollars rising an impressive 47.82%. These returns are based on opening prices of gold and silver on 1 January 2020 of $1517.3 and $17.86, respectively, and closing prices on 31 December 2020, of $1898.50 and $26.40, respectively.
Gold’s Continued Bull Run
With a 25.12% return in 2020, gold continues the strong run it recorded in 2019 when the gold price rose by over 18%. US dollar gold in 2020 also had its best year since 2010, a year in which it rose by 29.5%.
The 2020 low for the US dollar gold price was seen in the last week of March when the price dipped briefly below $1500 on the back of stress in the London gold market and the widening of spreads between the London spot price and COMEX futures prices. The 2020 high for the US gold price during the year was reached on 7 August, when the price touched US$ 2067.60 per troy ounce, after climbing consistently from the last week of March. A lot of that surge was during a two-month period from early June to the August high, when the gold price rose by $370 between 7 June and 7 August.
US dollar gold generally ebbed from that August high until the end of November, when it traded at $1767 on 30 November, before resuming its climb throughout December to end 2020 in the $1898 range.
The gold price also performed strongly in other currencies during 2020, for example, rising by 22.89% in Singapore dollars, 21.35% in British pounds, 22.63% in Canadian dollars, 14.85% in Euro and 13.93% in Aussie dollars.
Turning to silver, the 47.82% rise in US dollar silver price in 2020 also gives silver its best year since 2010, when it rose by 83%. Interestingly, silver also rose by a similar 47% in 2009, so could 2020 be presaging a very strong silver price showing for 2021?
The 2020 low for the US dollar price was also seen in March during the wider market panic, with a low price of $12.17 recorded on 19 March. Like gold, silver also resumed its ascent from that March low and also peaked on the very same day, 7 August at $29.3 per troy ounce. From low to high, that was an incredible 141% move in just over 4 months. Much of that upsurge occurred in three large jumps over late July and early August where the price rose a full $10 over 15 trading days.
Like gold, the US dollar silver price generally ebbed and flowed lower from August to the end of November, hitting a low of $22, also on 30 November. However, again like gold, the US dollars silver price rallied throughout December 2020, adding over $4 to finish the year comfortably above $26.
Although the 2020 platinum price rise was more subdued than that of gold and silver, it still rose a respectable 11.14% during the year from an opening price of $965.5 on 1 January to a closing price on 31 December, at the time of writing, of $1073.10.
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Here is our silver price forecast for 2021! Watch this detailed silver 2021 price prediction to see where the white metal might be headed in the coming year! The major question is: will silver prices go up in 2021? And as per the current outlook for silver prices, 2021 could be looking very promising indeed. So much so that as the silver price prediction would have it, the commodity could reach astounding highs of up to $75 per ounce. Many experts are certain of a tremendous rally in their silver 2021 forecast.