Commodities portfolio manager Sparrow on why gold and silver are rebounding

Few asset classes were as hated as precious metals at the end of 2013 as gold saw its 12-year streak of higher prices come to an end.

However, gold and silver have rebounded early this year and caught many traders off guard. For example, SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD) was up 10% year to date as of Feb. 20 and iShares Silver Trust ETF (SLV) gained 12%.

Miner stocks — perennial laggards in recent years — have performed even better. Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) is up 26% and Global X Silver Miners ETF (SIL) is up 31%.

SPDR Gold Shares ETF

GLD Chart

GLD data by YCharts

The recent strength in the metals complex has also surprised some investors because the Federal Reserve has started tapering its economic stimulus.

Gerald Sparrow, who manages the Hard and Soft Commodities portfolio on Covestor, thinks one reason gold and silver are rebounding is investors simply got too bearish heading into 2014. He owns SPDR Gold Shares ETF and iShares Silver Trust ETF is the portfolio.

“Sentiment got overly bearish on precious metals and we’ve seen a snap-back rally of late,” Sparrow said.

He said there are several drivers of metals prices, including demand from jewelry and central banks, investors seeking disaster insurance, inflation forecasts and central bank monetary policy.

Gold and silver prices fell in 2013 as Europe’s debt crisis receded somewhat and inflation as measured by consumer prices remained low.

However, Sparrow said one theme to keep an eye on this year is gold demand from emerging markets, especially China, which has surpassed India as the world’s biggest consumer of the precious metal.

“Economic activity has picked up in Asia and we’ve seen record gold buying in China, mostly for jewelry consumption and investment,” Sparrow noted.

DISCLAIMER: The investments discussed are held in client accounts as of January 31, 2013. These investments may or may not be currently held in client accounts. The reader should not assume that any investments identified were or will be profitable or that any investment recommendations or investment decisions we make in the future will be profitable. ETF shares trade like stocks, are subject to investment risk and will fluctuate in market value. The market price of the ETF’s shares may be more or less than the net asset value. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.