23 February 2009

Byron on gold in the week that was...

"Increasing financial turbulence also resulted in the gold holdings of the world's largest bullion-backed ETF jumping to a record level. "The SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) holdings have risen by 228.6 metric tons so far this year, to a record 1,008.8 metric tons late on Tuesday, absorbing in the first seven weeks of the year about 10% of the world's annual mine gold output," reported the Financial Times. Gold bullion breached the $1,000 level on Friday and closed the week at $1,002 (+6.4%) - within striking distance of its record of $1,031 reached in March last year.

With the yellow metal behaving like "the last man standing", David Fuller reminded us of the quote by the English poet Lord Byron: "O gold! I still prefer thee unto paper, which makes bank credit like a bark of vapour."

Besides precious metals shining brightly, the other commodities performed poorly, as shown in the graph below. The Reuters/Jeffries CRB Index recorded a six-and-a-half year low as global growth deteriorated."


Next, a tag cloud of my week's reading. This is a way of visualizing word frequencies at a glance. Key words such as "banks", "China", "financial" and "gold" featured prominently.

As far as the outlook for stock markets is concerned, the primary bear market was reconfirmed on Thursday, at least in terms of Dow Theory. Richard Russell (Dow Theory Letters) said: "The verdict, at long last, is in. Today the DJ Industrial Average closed below its November 20 bear market low. In so doing, the Dow confirmed the prior breakdown of the Transportation Average. The two Averages jointly closed at new lows today, thereby signaling that the great bear market remains in force.

"According to Dow Theory, neither the duration nor the extent of a bear market can be predicted in advance. However there are some useful hints. Most major bear markets end with stocks at 'great values'. This has meant in the past that price/earnings (P/E) ratios for the Dow and the S&P have fallen to single-digit numbers. It has also meant that dividend yields have moved into the 5-6% zone."

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