Friday, September 30, 2011
The Colonel's Friday Thoughts on Gold; Euro Moly Drops
My latest Kitco Commentary: Why is Gold More Volatile than Copper, Oil or Silver? (09-19-2011)
COMEX Gold price = $1616.6/oz (December contract most active)
Eureka Miner’s Gold Value Index© (GVI) = 103.76
Value Adjusted Gold Price© (VAGP) = $1301.9/oz
COMEX - VAGP = $314.7/oz; gold is trading at a premium; gold:copper & gold:oil ratio are at recessionary levels
It is 5:42 AM. have a welcome cup of good old Raine's Red Label TGIF java. A rough week and bad coffee for the last two days with Old Miner Woden's Cold Reality brew and Thor's Stormy Markets. Let's hope the coffee and markets get better for miners in October...
The Colonel's input to the Weekly Kitco Gold Survey
Below is my weekly input to the Kitco gold survey. I wouldn't be surprised to see $1,650/oz gold with $3.30/lb copper and $82.5/bbl WTI light crude next week. A slow return to stability is the trend for all three.
It appears gold has turned the volatility corner. From Aug. 23 to Sept. 23, COMEX gold was more volatile than COMEX copper, NYMEX oil and COMEX silver. This is an extremely unusual condition with decidedly bearish overtones. Fortunately, gold is now marginally less volatile than all three thereby returning to a more normal relation. Secondly, the correlation trajectories for copper, oil and silver with respect to gold are less bearish which should lower gold-referenced commodity ratios; presently at recessionary levels for copper and oil.
A picture is worth many words and numbers. Here is a 13-month plot of volatility for copper (red line), oil (dark gray line) and silver (light gray line), all with respect to gold (a larger more readable chart can be found at the bottom of the blog page):
The encouraging news is that all three curves have moved back above the 1.0-line (dashed circle). Volatilities less than one imply gold is more volatile relative to that commodity (red arrow).
If you prefer words and numbers here's a bunch...
Here are the 3-month volatility (VOL) numbers as of this morning (a number greater than 1 indicates gold is less volatile):
VOL(Cu, Au) = 1.292
VOL(Oil, Au) = 1.090
VOL(Ag, Au) = 1.325
To give this perspective, copper and oil volatilities relative to gold have hit the 4-5range and silver has peaked to 7 earlier this year. Numbers near one denote we are now only at the very threshold of more normal price fluctuations - good news nonetheless.
Another uplifting indication is 1-month correlation. In market downturns it is not unusual to see high positive correlation across a broad range of assets due to selling pressure and outright liquidations. Copper and oil have had negative 1-month and 3-month correlations relative to gold, another very bearish sign in the metals complex. However, the recent turn from negative to positive 1-month correlation will erode the negativity of the longer term number. If this continues we may see a return to all positive correlation which is bullish.
Here are the key correlations (CORREL) this morning:
CORREL(Cu, Au) +0.9437(1-month) -0.3111 (3-month)
CORREL(Oil, Au) +0.7580(1-month) -0.6248 (3-month)
And with respect to silver,we're already there:
CORREL(Ag, Au) +0.9822(1-month) +0.5383 (3-month)
When prices move together (i.e. positive correlation), commodity ratios relative to gold stabilize. The Au:Ag ratio has recently retreated from so-called recessionary levels (i.e. < 57 oz/oz) at 53.4 oz/oz. Au:Oil and Au:Cu are still dangerously elevated above their threshold level (i.e.>20bbl/oz and >400 lb/oz) at 20.09 bbl/oz &506.3 lb/oz but more positive correlations going forward should aid compression.
Euro Moly Drops
The last shoe in this week's moly drama fell yesterday as euro moly oxide grabbed a 13-handle at $13.95/lb. The report predicted yesterday that euro moly would soon drop below the London Metal Exchange 3-month seller contract at $14.06/lb. C'est la vie.
Have a peaceful weekend, pardner.
Daily Market Roundup
Enough talk, let's walk the walk:
Eureka Miner's Index(EMI)
This morning the Eureka Miner's Index© (EMI) is below-par at 31.19, down from yesterday's 36.69 and below the 1-month moving average of 82.42. The 1-month average is currently below the 100-level putting us solidly in bear country.
The EMI gives us the market temperature for the factors that have the greatest impact on mining in Eureka County. The record high for the EMI is 816.78 set 01/04/2011; the new low set on 9/26/2011 is 30.23. An EMI of 100 is the boundary between hot and cold markets for the metals & miners.
200-day averages are used to update mining equity norms in the EMI on a monthly basis.
Gold Value Index (GVI
The Eureka Miner’s Gold Value Index© (GVI) is above-par at 103.76, up from yesterday's 102.22 and above its 1-month average of 100.18. The Value Adjusted Gold Price© (VAGP) is $1,301.9/oz which is $314.7/oz below the current COMEX gold price.
The GVI initially trended down from 6/7/2010 when it had a value of 100; gold regained value reversing the trend, moved sideways for a time and and headed back up with vigor. A sustained presence around the 100-level may prove to be a recession warning for a second dip down in the economy.
The GVI gauges the value of gold in relation to oil, copper and silver independent of currency. These three commodities were chosen for relative value comparison because 1) oil derivatives are a common cost element for all miners, 2) copper has proven to be a reliable proxy for global growth and 3) silver is a precious and industrial metal that now competes with gold for investment and as a hedge against fiat currencies.
The Value Adjusted Gold Price (VAGP) is a level that supports current oil, copper & oil prices based on historical commodity norms. If the daily COMEX gold price is below the VAGP, then gold is undervalued; if above, overvalued.
Daily Debt Crisis Watch
July 26th we introduced the Debt Crisis Index (DCI). The DCI is computed in the mornings and at the market close Friday in much the same way we do the EMI and GVI indices. Today, the DCI has a value of 236.4 up from yesterday's 227.9. Our benchmark is 100, a value of the DCI at a level above 200 is time for serious concern. We are now above that level.
Daily Oil Watch
Latest Nevada Fuel Prices
On February 1st we identified North Sea Brent crude oil as a good barometer for the developing crisis in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). It is now above $100/bbl with a large spread from the North American benchmark, Western Texas Intermediate or "Texas light sweet crude", traded on the NYMEX (see note 1). The Report normally follows the latter but will track both until things settle out in the region.
Here are the key front-month contracts as of this morning:
NYMEX light sweet crude $80.46
ICE North Sea Brent crude $102.35
Spread (ICE- NYMEX) = $21.89 (yesterday, $22.18)
Here are the January contracts* with a narrower spread:
NYMEX light sweet crude $80.75
ICE North Sea Brent crude $100.09
Spread (ICE- NYMEX) = $19.54 (yesterday, $19.88)
* NYMEX futures contracts have rolled forward, we now show November and January for a 2-month look-ahead
Prices are off their crisis highs and we have $100+ Brent and $80+ NYMEX in January favoring high oil prices throughout the late fall and early winter although we may see further pressure to the downside. My last December prediction that we would see NYMEX $100/bbl oil before the Fourth of July came true on February 23rd.
Eureka Outlook Dashboard
4-WD is ON - The miners are on very rough roads; The VIX or "fear index" is above 25; in early morning trading, bellwether Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) is seriously below its 200-day moving average of $51.92 (our new key level, 09/21 update); 10-year Treasurys are safely below 4% preserving a low-interest rate environment.
The ORANGE light is turned on for Commodity Reflation with copper trading below $3.50/lb
The YELLOW light is turned on for Stable Markets with the VIX above the 30 level (what's this?)
The YELLOW light is turned on for Inflation Watch The Federal Reserve phased out buying Treasurys June 30th (aka QE2) but will maintain low interest rates until mid-2013
The RED light is turned back on for Investor Confidence with investors very adverse to commodity-sensitive equities
The YELLOW light is turned on our Fuel Gauge with oil above $80
A ORANGE light is ON for possible adverse regulation/legislation: Mine Safety Violations, Miner's claim fee, Miner taxation, Cortez Hills, mercury emissions , General Moly Mt. Hope Water Rights, U.S. House committee debates miner workplace safety bill, R&R Partners parts ways with Nevada Mining Association, Obama budget includes mining royalty , Mineral commission fights consolidation, Democrats seek to repeal mining tax from the constitution, Rhoads, Ellison oppose repeal of net proceeds tax, Proposal could change net proceeds tax, 'You get to deduct WHAT???' Nevada lawmakers ask gold miners
Otherwise, all lights are green on the Eureka Outlook Dashboard (upper right, what's this?)
Commodity Market Morning Update
NYMEX/COMEX: Oil is down $1.68 in early trading at $80.46 (November contract, most active); Gold is down $0.7 to $1616.6 (December contract, most active); Silver is down $0.257 to $30.265 (December contract, most active); Copper is down $0.0530 at $3.1930 (December contract, most active)
Western Molybdenum Oxide (General Moly website) is $14.00; European Molybdenum Oxide (Bloomberg) is $13.95; LME cash seller is $14.06, LME moly 3-month seller's contract is $14.06
Stock Market Morning Update
The DOW is down 95.78 points to 11,058.20; the S&P 500 is down 13.91 points at 1146.49
Miners are mixed:
Barrick (ABX) $47.14 up 1.92%
Newmont (NEM) $64.37 up 2.96%
US Gold (UXG) $4.07 down 1.93%
General Moly (Eureka Moly, LLC) (GMO) $2.80 down 4.11%
Thompson Creek (TC) $6.12 down 2.55%
Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) $30.86 down 1.53% (a bellwether mining stock spanning copper, gold & molybdenum)
Quadra FNX (TSE:QUX) $8.78 up 0.22%
Timberline Resources (TLR) $0.59 down 3.28%
The Steels are down (a "tell" for General Moly & Thompson Creek):
ArcelorMittal (MT) $16.29 down 3.44% - global steel producer
POSCO (PKX) $77.69 down 1.92% - South Korean integrated steel producer
The Eureka Miner's Grubstake Portfolio is down 0.97% at $1,286,916.56 (what's this?).
Note 1 - West Texas Intermediate (WTI), also known as Texas light sweet, is a type of crude oil used as a benchmark in oil pricing and is the underlying commodity of New York Mercantile Exchange's (NYMEX) oil futures contracts. The price of WTI is often referenced in North American news reports on oil prices, alongside the price of North Sea Brent crude (source: Wikipedia)
Note 2 - The impact of the U.S. debt ceiling debate affected investment decisions for weeks before its resolution August 2nd and was followed by an S&P credit downgrade. Global sovereign debt issues have been an overhang on markets for many, many months starting with the Dubai crisis in late November, 2009 and spreading to the euro-zone in 2010-2011.
Headline photo by Mariana Titus
Write Colonel Possum at email@example.com for answers to your questions or to request e-mail updates on the market