Gold fell with stocks on Friday, which was disheartening. Today that changed; gold gained alongside the US dollar while stocks fell. Of course, gold and greenback rarely rise together. It can happen, but it requires some kind of pervasive fundamental rationale. Today that rationale was good old safe haven buying.
I think what is happening is a run-of-the-mill bull market correction. Those often entail losses in the 10 to 15% range, so we’re only halfway there (hold onto your hats!). If that is the case, it’s a good thing. A correction would really strengthen the bull market’s base, giving it the foundation to continue for a while yet.
And as metals investors, we want that. The big bull argument for commodities right now depends on coordinated economic growth; a stock market crash would derail that.
A correction would also do much to shift perspectives on how to invest at this stage of the game. This bull market has been so long and strong that FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – has become the primary investment rationale. A real correction will encourage investors to instead fear the day when the market turns down for real, which is a more pertinent focus at this stage of the bull market.
That shift would encourage safe haven buying – gold and the dollar – while also encouraging investors to seek out out real value. Few stocks offer value today; mining stocks are among the select few. So a shift towards security and value can only help the metals and mining sector.
I’ll note here that Bitcoin tracked equities down today, rather than following gold and the dollar up. It only emphasizes that, whatever their proponents might say, cryptocurrencies are a speculation and not a currency!
A correction right now makes sense in all kinds of ways. It had been too long since equities corrected. Markets – especially US stock markets – are prone to weakness early in the year. Greed had gotten extreme.
A correction means a bumpy ride in the short term, but a stronger setup long term. The interesting question now is: will markets correct enough to push gold above resistance at US$1,360 per oz? If so, things will get very interesting – and profitable – in the gold sector, and soon. If not, then real opportunity is just delayed until later in the year.
If this turns into a crash rather than a correction (which I doubt it will), the playbook changes. Gold will gain but stocks of all kinds – including gold miners – will fall, at least during the crash itself. Once the worst is over, I would expect the gold sector to have the kind of sharp and highly profitable recovery that we saw in 2009…but we would have to endure pains before those gains.