Why gold investors should look at silver too

Why gold investors should look at silver too

Silver prices hit a two-year high above $21 per ounce on Monday, as precious metals continue to gain from the safe-haven rally following the UK referendum.

Some investors say silver has further to run and may be a better bet than gold.

"Silver is a metal that most people don't really think about when they think about precious metals, but it does have this dual property towards both an industrial metal and a precious metal. So many of the reasons that investors chose to invest in gold, silver has many of those properties, at the same time as having a lot of demand coming from industrials," PureFunds CEO Andrew Chanin told CNBC last week.

Spot silver prices have gained around 19 per cent since referendum day on June 23 to trade above $21 per ounce on Monday, before paring some gains to trade at around $20.40. The rally has accelerated since June 29.

By comparison, spot gold has rallied by 7.8 per cent in the same period to around $1,351 per ounce.

Metal prices

Despite recent gains, silver prices remain around 60 per cent off a 2011 peak above $49 per ounce. This, combined with the metal's low price relative to gold at present, suggests the rally may have further to run. "If you use the silver-gold ratio to look at historical prices versus where we are currently at, for each ounce of gold that is mined, roughly a little less than 10 ounces of silver is mined, but the ratio is trading at over 70:1 and it seems like there may be an opportunity. Historically, that average has been closer to 40, or even lower if you look at a long time period," Chanin said.

Last week, Societe Generale hiked its short- and long-term price forecasts for gold and silver. The French bank now predicts silver prices will average $18 for the rest of the year, before trailing off to $17.50 in 2017 and $15 by 2021.

It sees gold prices averaging $1,330 per ounce this quarter and $1,350 in both the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. Bullion is seen peaking in 2017 before slowing trailing off between 2018 and 2021.

"Silver has (more room to run) because silver is increasingly used in solar panels now. Something like 10 per cent of demand comes from solar panels. Solar panels is a growing source of demand for silver, so you have got an additional attraction for silver as well, as a commodity investment and also industrial usage," Jeremy Wrathall, mining team leader at Investec, told CNBC on Monday. However, the new chief executive of Rio Tinto warned at the weekend that a supply glut would continue to pressure metal prices.

"Oversupply is there in all commodities, let's be clear," Jean-Sebastien Jacques said, according to an interview published by the Financial Times.

"The first one that may come out of the oversupply is copper. If you look at the others - iron ore, coal and so on - there is a long way to go."

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