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How To Short Natural Gas and Profit


An Overview Regarding How To Short Natural Gas and Profit

Short Natural Gas For Selloff
With natural gas hitting five-year highs above $5.75 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), many traders are asking how to short natural gas and profit.  There are a number of ways to short natural gas and profit from a future decrease in natural gas futures prices.  Not all of the natural gas short plays have the same amount of risk; and therefore, traders looking to profit from a decline in natural gas futures prices need to understand the different ways to go short natural gas.  To fully understand the risk and rewards associated with shorting natural gas, traders also need to understand that there is more to changes in natural gas prices than simply seasonal changes in temperatures.

What To Consider When Shorting Natural Gas

Short Natural GasNatural gas price action is often strongly affected by seasonal natural gas trading patterns that provide two opportunities to short and profit from drops in natural gas prices.  The two seasonal opportunities for making money on natural gas on the short side are the spring and fall shoulder seasons.  The spring shoulder season takes hold at some point during the middle of winter to the middle of spring, as demand for natural gas lessens and the natural gas injection season takes over.  The fall shoulder season takes hold at some point during late summer or early fall, as demand for natural gas lessens after summer heat wanes and the natural gas injection season is in full swing.

It is important to understand that shorting natural gas ahead of either of the two shoulder seasons is not a slam dunk profitable trading opportunity.  Abnormal weather patterns, natural gas demand, and natural gas storage levels can affect the onset and outcome of the shoulder seasons.  For example, the winter of 2012/2013 was not abnormally cold, and by the end of February natural gas stood at a price in the $3.90 MMBtu area, which is not elevated by any means and did not provide a good shorting opportunity.  March and April 2013 were abnormally cold months, one of the coldest first halfs of spring on record for many parts of the eastern two-thirds of the United States.  This caused natural gas futures prices to increase approximately 18% to the $4.60 MMBtu area by the end of April 2013, a time when natural gas is typically descending in price due to seasonal factors.  Warm weather finally arrived in May 2013, and natural gas prices responded by dropping back to the $3.70 MMBtu area by the middle of summer.  While money could be made shorting natural gas during the 2013 spring shoulder season, the onset was delayed by two months, which required a multiple-month trading commitment to make money shorting natural gas.

For the 2014 spring shoulder season, the concern is both natural gas storage levels and the possibility that the very cold winter weather will last into the early spring.  The winter of 2013/2014 has been the coldest winter in twenty years for the eastern two-thirds of the United States.  This has caused natural gas storage levels to drop quickly, as two record storage withdrawals were recorded during the 2013/2014 winter.  Natural gas prices responded by shooting above $5.00 MMBtu during February 2014, with a peak in the neighborhood of $5.75 MMBtu.  While this seemingly provides a good opportunity to profit from natural gas by shorting it going into the spring shoulder season, caution is advised.  With weeks of winter left and only tepid signs that the cold wave is abating, additional large natural gas storage withdrawals could cause natural storage levels to fall to such an extent that market participants worry about whether enough natural gas will be available for the following winter season.  This, along with any cooler than normal early spring weather that may materialize, could cause natural gas prices to increase in the early part of the spring shoulder season, and could create a short-squeeze that sends natural gas prices much higher.  Conversely, if warm weather arrives sooner than expected and the spring season comes with normal warm weather temperatures, then demand for natural gas will decline, and the price of natural gas should fall, creating an excellent opportunity to short natural gas and profit, as the price of natural gas falls.

The Different Ways To Short Natural Gas and Profit

There are several different ways to short natural gas and profit.  The purest way to short natural gas is by buying put options on natural gas futures contracts.  This provides direct exposure to natural gas price changes.  If natural gas futures contracts fall in price, put options will increase in price.  For traders that do not engage in buying put options, they can establish a short position in natural gas by either shorting long-oriented natural gas futures Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) or by buying short-oriented natural gas futures ETFs.  These ETFs come in a variety forms, with exposure on the long and short side at one to three times the movement of natural gas futures.
Short Natural Gas and Profit

The advantage of going short natural gas by shorting long-oriented natural gas futures ETFs is that ETFs that derive their value from futures contracts often experience price decay over time, as they have to continuously replace their positions in futures contracts as the front-month contracts expire, which can cause them to lose small amounts of money each time they have to roll over into a new front-month futures contract.  Shorting long-oriented natural gas futures ETFs takes advantage of this price decay by increasing the downside potential verses short-oriented natural gas futures ETFs.  However, it can be difficult to find long-oriented natural gas futures ETFs shares to short, and if the trade goes in the opposite direction as anticipated, a trader may be hit with a margin call, as the long-oriented natural gas futures ETFs increase in value.

The advantage of going short natural gas by buying short-oriented natural gas futures ETFs is that they are easy to buy.

The following is a list of long-oriented natural gas futures ETFs that can be shorted to profit from a decrease in the price of natural gas futures contracts.

  • 1X Natural Gas Long ETF:  United States Natural Gas (NYSE:  UNG) is a one times (1X) long natural gas ETF.
  • 2X Natural Gas Long ETF:  ProShares Ultra DJ-UBS Natural Gas (NYSE:  BOIL) is a two times (2X) long natural gas ETF.
  • 3X Natural Gas Long ETF:  VelocityShares 3x Long Natural Gas ETN (NYSE:  UGAZ) is a three times (3X) long natural gas ETF.

The following is a list of short-oriented natural gas futures ETFs that can be purchased to profit from a decrease in the price of natural gas futures contracts.

  • 2X Natural Gas Short ETF:  Horizons BetaPro NYMEX Natural Gas Bear Plus ETF (OTC Pink:  HBNND) is a two times (2X) short natural gas ETF.
  • 2X Natural Gas Short ETF:  ProShares UltraShort DJ-UBS Natural Gas Fund (NYSE:  KOLD) is a two times (2X) short natural gas ETF
  • 3X Natural Gas Short ETF:  VelocityShares 3x Long Natural Gas ETN (NYSE:  DGAZ) is a three times (3X) short natural gas ETF.

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Seasonal Natural Gas Trading Patterns


The Key To Seasonal Natural Gas Trading

Seasonal Natural Gas Trading
Natural gas futures experience unique seasonal trading patterns that provide profitable trading opportunities.  The key to making money from seasonal natural gas trading patterns is to identify the historical trend directions that natural gas futures move in during different times of the year.  Once identified, sensible trades can be made based on the historical trading patterns with some additional input regarding the long-term weather outlook and the natural gas supply and demand backdrop.  The historical trends provide trading guidance, while the long-term weather outlook and the natural gas supply and demand dynamics provide clues regarding when to make natural trading buys and sells, and how much risk to take when entering a natural gas trade.

Seasonal Natural Gas Trading Patterns

Seasonal Natural Gas Trading Patterns
The following are the four seasonal natural gas trading patterns that provide opportunities to make money trading natural gas futures or Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that derive their value from natural gas futures prices.  Keep in mind that these seasonal trading patterns do not always play out as expected, due to the many factors that affect natural gas prices; however, more often than not, the seasonal natural gas trading patterns do occur as expected and provide money making opportunities for those that trade natural gas.

  • Mid to Late Fall to Mid-Winter / Early Spring (Up Trend) – Natural gas futures typically bottom out in price during the middle to late fall in October or November, and then begin a long up trend in price, as cold weather takes hold, which causes demand for natural gas that has been stored for the heating season.  If the weather is colder than normal and/or natural gas supplies are tight, then the up trend can be quite significant.
  • Mid-Winter / Early Spring to Early Summer (Down Trend) – Natural gas futures typically top out in price during the middle to late winter anywhere from January to March, depending upon when the coldest weather occurs and how much natural gas is in storage to meet heating demand.  Natural gas then enters the first “shoulder season” in the spring, during which demand slackens and producers start to inject natural gas into storage.  Natural gas prices typically fall during this time period as demand is weak and supply is plentiful.
  • Early to Mid-Summer (Up Trend) – Natural gas futures typically bottom out in price during the early to middle part of the summer season and begin an up-trend, as demand for natural gas increases from utility customers that use it to generate electricity to meet electricity demands from customers trying to cool their dwellings.  However, the summer has to be hotter than normal across a good portion of the continental United States to cause a significant increase in natural gas futures contracts during this timeframe.
  • Late-Summer / Early Fall to Mid to Late Fall (Down Trend) – Natural gas futures typically peak during the hottest part of the summer, during the months of July or August, and then being a down-trend as the second “shoulder season” occurs in the fall.  Demand for natural gas is typically weak during this time period and supplies are abundant, which causes natural gas prices decrease until winter heating demand kicks in during the mid to late fall and the cycle starts over again.

ETFs To Trade Seasonal Natural Gas Trading Patterns On The Long Side

The following is a list of ETFs that can be utilized for trading natural gas futures on the long side, when natural gas prices are expected to increase.

  • 1X Natural Gas Long ETF:  United States Natural Gas (NYSE:  UNG) is a one times (1X) ETF that invests in near-month natural gas futures contracts that trade on the NYMEX, which are contracts for the month that is set to expire at the next expiration date and are usually the most actively traded futures contracts.
  • 2X Natural Gas Long ETF:  ProShares Ultra DJ-UBS Natural Gas (NYSE:  BOIL) is an ETF that is designed to deliver daily returns that are two times (2X) the daily performance of the Dow Jones-UBS Natural Gas Sub-index.  The index derives its value from natural gas futures contracts traded on the NYMEX.
  • 3X Natural Gas Long ETF:  VelocityShares 3x Long Natural Gas ETN (NYSE:  UGAZ) is an ETF that is designed to deliver daily returns that are three times (3X) the daily performance of the S&P GSCI Natural Gas Index ER, which is based upon natural gas futures contracts.

ETFs To Trade Seasonal Natural Gas Trading Patterns On The Short Side

The following is a list of ETFs that can be utilized for trading natural gas futures on the short side, when natural gas prices are expected to decrease.

  • 2X Natural Gas Short ETF:  Horizons BetaPro NYMEX Natural Gas Bear Plus ETF (OTC Pink:  HBNND) is an ETF that is designed to replicate two times (2X) the inverse of the daily performance of the NYMEX natural gas futures contract for the next delivery month.  It is a United States based security that derives its value from Canada based security that trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange under symbol HND.TO.
  • 2X Natural Gas Short ETF:  ProShares UltraShort DJ-UBS Natural Gas Fund (NYSE:  KOLD) – The fund seeks to deliver twice (2X) the inverse return of the daily performance of the Dow Jones-UBS Natural Gas Subindex, which derives its value from natural gas futures contracts traded of the NYMEX.
  • 3X Natural Gas Short ETF:  VelocityShares 3x Long Natural Gas ETN (NYSE:  DGAZ) is an ETF that is designed to deliver daily returns that are three times (3X) the daily performance of the S&P GSCI Natural Gas Index ER, which is based upon natural gas futures contracts.

Words of Caution When Trading Seasonal Natural Gas Patterns

Natural Gas Supply Well
Seasonal natural gas trading strategies are fairly reliable, but can be affected by unanticipated supply and demand pressures in the natural gas futures markets due to unseasonable weather that either increases or decreases demand, changes in the economy, and changes in natural gas supply.  Therefore, traders should be aware of the risks associated with trading ETFs that derive there values based on natural gas futures, and understand that considerable losses can be incurred if a natural gas seasonal trade does not work out as expected.  In particular, leveraged ETFs that move at two or three times the amount of the underlying natural gas futures contracts are susceptible to large price swings.  Natural gas ETFs should only be used for short-term trading, rather than long-term investing, since the futures markets can affect long-term performance and returns of these ETFs in a negative way.

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Trading Gold and Copper

If you take out a dollar bill from your wallet, on the top left it will read: This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private. Which means that every dollar is backed up by the good standing and credit of the United States of America’s treasury. The question on worth, comes not from the credit standing of the U.S. government, but on the amount of gold in the nation’s coffers. So while the U.S. may not be on the gold standard, or the silver standard, and now formulates its own worth by the credit standard, it is important to understand that all money, not just U.S. money is based on the price of gold per ounce. The U.S. is a banking nation, among the other venues it makes money, however, national wealth is often deemed upon the amount of gold it stores not only for its own personal use and economy, but also the amount of gold it stores for other nations. So the trading price of gold, as well as many other metals, is a major contributing factor to the stability of a nation.

GoldGold and copper

To understand the value of gold, you must first understand that gold while it is traditionally a rare metal, it is the basis for all world currencies, and has been that way since the birth of the monetary system. So the importance the global economy places on the value of gold, becomes the sole importance when trading it by the ounce because of its overall integral part on the everyday economics, and trading from one day to the other. At the height of the trading in 2011, gold was selling for $1,900 dollars an ounce! It has since then fallen to roughly selling at about $1,200 dollars an ounce. Experts agree that while gold traders are certainly feeling a hurt from where gold was once trading, to be at a low of $1,200 dollars per ounce is no small achievement. Economically speaking, the price of gold tends to jump up when the economy tanks, so the slight drop in price would correlate a better, or at the very least an improving global economy. Investing in gold is still a wise choice since when we look at the business cycle, we tend to overlook how capitalistic economies work with each other. Often the markets tend to sway quite frequently, and the ups and downs of economies tend to be unbalanced. For instance, it is much more likely to experience 10 years of economic growth, and in the wake of such economic success there will be 20 years of hard economic times.

For example: If you are investing in gold today, and you buy it at $1,200 an ounce and hold onto them for the next ten to twelve years, and the global economy tanks or drops again, and the price per ounce sky rockets, then theoretically the price would rise from $1,200 dollars per ounce, to the height of $1,900 dollars per ounce, you’ve raised a profit on every purchased share.

gold and copper 2Copper

Copper like gold, tends to rise in price when the economy does poorly. Now copper has always been rather valuable because of its many uses and ability to be melted into new products, done very easily. Currently the price of copper has dropped but not because of an improving economy like gold, but rather because there is a low in the market as far as producing and mining copper. This is a usual sag in sales and purchasing of copper that as experts have coined, are normal seasonal lags, often because of the winter months. Construction projects tend to slow because of the colder weather, and the uses for copper in industries other than technologically based, are less likely to be buying up the reserves of copper. So if copper is being less consumed, than the refining and mining operations in order to meet the demand will either slow or speed up according how copper is being bought and traded. This seasonal lag, is predictable, so if you are looking to invest in copper, then investing is more of a safe bet because we understand that in the coming warmer months, the demand will go up and so too will the price. You are better to buy it now while the price is at a market low, so that you can sell at a much higher price in the next few months.

Gold and copper sales and prices are not as low as many would suggest it to be. The trading of the two metals will rise, copper will get better with the warmer months, and gold will rise in time. But the lower price right now can afford you profit down the line should the economy come to a slower stance, if not in the next couple of years, it will in time if you are looking for a long term solid investment.

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How To Buy Silver Bullion

Buy Silver BullionAs fall begins, many investors quickly buy silver bullion and other precious metals while it is at a low price and wait until the shares begin to climb in the late winter to sell for higher gains. What started as solely a precious metal has now become a huge component to improving our quality of life. Silver serves many uses, beyond just making it into jewelry. This commodity has an assortment of industrial and commercial uses as well, which sometimes makes it much more appealing than investing in gold. There are many benefits to buying silver bullion, but there are also many aspects that you should be aware of before you jump in and start investing. Here, we’ll go over some of the basics in silver bullion and tips for when you are ready to buy!

Why Would You Buy Silver Bullion?

Besides the many uses that silver has, there is something extremely appealing to many of you out there about physically owning an asset. Rather than just investing in silver through exchange traded funds (ETFs) like you can do with gold bullion, buying silver bullion gives you physical ownership over the bars or ingots, or rounded coins. Not only is it a great way to hedge against inflation and financial turmoil, but it also does wonders for your portfolio. If you buy silver bullion, you are adding real, tangible assets to your portfolio. In addition to diversifying your portfolio, buying silver bullion can reduce your portfolio’s volatility and lower the overall risk involved. If your goal for the remaining year is to diversify your portfolio, buy silver bullion and welcome some physical assets into your collection.

When You Buy Silver Bullion…

This advice may sound somewhat repetitive, but with any investment, you must take the time to do the research. There are a lot of people who claim to be “dealers” who are just looking to scam you and steal your money. There are plenty of credible sites that you can locate authorized dealers and major banks that sell silver bullion. You can even utilize the Federal U.S Mint to research information, pricing and purchase silver bullion.

Here are some things to consider when you are looking to buy silver bullion. Firstly, silver bullion differs from silver as a commodity being silver bullion’s price is reflected by weight and quantity. They are NOT the same as the rare silver collector coins some private dealers offer. Silver bullion is strictly weight and quantity while additional value can be added onto rare silver coins.

Here are 5 Tips to Follow When Thinking of Buying Silver Bullion:

  1. Always shop around to make sure you are able to purchase the silver bullion with minimal markup.
  2. Avoid buying bullion that refuses to deliver to you, stating “it’s in a secured facility” Most of the time, there is no silver bullion or the quality and other factors are compromised.
  3. Always ask for the coin’s melt value.
  4. Get an independent appraisal for any silver bullion you are definitely considering, as the seller may be trying to use inflated rates.
  5. Remember that when purchasing physical precious metals, there are other expenses involved that can cut your actual investment potential. Do you have somewhere secure to store the silver bullion? Do you need to buy insurance?

Different Ways to Buy Silver

There are many different ways investors can buy silver, though buying silver bullion is usually the most profitable. Rather than being at the mercy of silver ETF and the volatility of the other markets, physically purchasing silver bullion allows you to avoid price decay, which is common in futures and options. When you buy silver bullion you have more potential to actually profit over time, in addition to the convenience of easily purchasing it.

As we said before, its always important to remember to buy silver bullion only from trusted sources. There are dozens of companies that sell silver bullion over the Internet. However, an investor looking to buy silver bullion over the Internet would be wise to make sure the company they are considering buying silver bullion through is legitimate. For those who would rather see the silver bullion coins in person before buying, a local coin shop should have silver bullion coins available for examination. An investor should expect to pay a slight premium for buying silver bullion coins from a local coin shop. Another option for to buy silver bullion coins is the United States Mint, which sells the one troy ounce United States government issued American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin directly to the public.

As governments around the world look for ways to solve their crushing debt burdens by diluting their currencies, buying silver bullion to hold physical silver is worth considering, as part of a diversified investment strategy.

How about you? Do you have any silver bullion investments in your portfolio? What are you waiting for?

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Gold Outlook Update For July and August

gold outlook update

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Since the Federal Open Market Committee minutes were released precious metals like gold and silver have been benefiting greatly from the commotion and rumors. While we have given you a Gold Outlook for 2013, much has happened in recent weeks. Consider this a gold outlook update, providing you with the recent changes and weekly progressions since our last post. We’ll take a look at what affected the precious metals market, current risks and even a little treat! This time around, we were able to get a hold of the ever-busy Michael Killian, co-owner/co-founder of Stock, Rock, and Roll to give us his input on the current gold market. So as you are easing into work this morning, catching this during your lunch break, or surfing the web under company time, take a look at the latest gold outlook update!



Gold Outlook Update: Current Standings

gold outlook update

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Since posting our last few gold outlook articles, including Gold Outlook for 2013 and Gold Stocks, Who’s Hurting, Who’s Flourishing, and What’s Next, the precious metal has been riding a three-week high. We’ve recently been witnessing stronger levels and higher rallying gains. In the past week gold prices rallied 4.9% which has been the biggest gainer since October 2011. Even gold futures spiked 2.6% after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stated their highly accommodating monetary policy will be needed for the ‘foreseeable future’ citing low levels of inflation. We’ll look into Bernanke’s other remarks throughout this post, for now let’s see other gold trading updates. It’s good to see the gold outlook on a positive note, although it will most likely not last too much longer.



How the FOMC Minutes Affected Precious Metals

In the last week the Federal Open Market Committee released the minutes from their most recent meeting. Key points addressed included the asset purchase program and future plans for the Federal Reserve. While many of Bernanke’s comments were broad, they were still enough to affect the precious metals market. While the Federal Reserve leaves their monetary policy unchanged, the minutes and press conference had Bernanke foreshadowing a taper initiation for the asset purchase program by the end of 2013 concluding by mid 2014 if the economy continues to pick up as the Central Bank expects.

The asset purchase program actually caused some conflict within the committee as it was almost an equal split down the middle of those for the initiation and those against it. Half of the committee feels the state is still too weak, and it’s too early to start wrapping this program up. The other half feels its time to start preparing by scaling back purchases to avoid any potential negative consequences of the program, ensuring they do no exceed the anticipated benefits. They’ve seen how there’s been a decline in the unemployment rate since last September and the ongoing increases in private payroll. With the labor market improving, policymakers for the taper are confident with it’s initiation.

gold outlook update bernanke

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While Bernanke and the Federal Reserve continue to debate the fate of the asset purchase program, members did agree that they will shed some light on their monetary policies in coming months, especially after Bernanke’s collection of broad and vague statements.

Bernanke himself can be seen as somewhat contradictory, as some even refer to his remarks as “dovish.” In the past few weeks as the focus was on the FOMC, Bernanke has flip-flopped back and forth between hinting at the start of a taper in addition to says the economy still had a long way to go and will require much more easing. Though some scratched their heads over these comments, his tone was definitely enough to affect Forex and Precious Metals markets. Thankfully it was in a positive regard, but what is Bernanke’s final consensus? Is he for the taper or not?



Should I Invest in Gold? Michael Killian’s Opinion

Since our last gold post, I was able to catch up with the knowledgeable co-founder of Stock, Rock, and Roll, Michael Killian. I wanted to pick his brain and see what his thoughts were with the FOMC and Bernanke’s role in the precious metals market and his opinion on investing in gold. After this recent gold outlook update, should you invest or hold off?

gold outlook update

(Photo Credit to:

As we discussed the FOMC’s last meeting, Killian said,”…it seems like the economy has taken a step for the better. As a result, the U.S dollar is expected to increase in value.” He went on to explain how interested rates have increased and in turn yielding higher monetary returns to banks. He projects that in coming months the stock market should be doing better than it has been.

Following the FOMC I asked Killian if he would invest in gold or other precious metals at this time. In response he profoundly said, “There’s a saying, ‘buy the dip.’ The best time to buy is usually when everyone else is selling – especially with a hard asset like gold.” Of course, this statement refers to supply and demand. In the case of precious metals there is always a limited supply of these commodities in addition to a continuous demand.

“I think gold is a great investment at the moment,” Killian continues, “the upside potential surely outweighs the risk at the moment. In the short-term, prices will probably stay in the $1,200-$1,300 range for a while. As a long-term investment, gold is likely to rebound to previous highs.”

If you are looking for a quick-flip situation, this commodity is not for you. For those of you who have the ability to sit on an investment like gold for a while, you will more than likely reap the benefits as gold begins to rebound. As we concluded our conversation, Killian concluded by stating, “Now is a good time to capitalize on the low price of precious metals.”

Gold Outlook Update Wrap-Up

Well, it’s apparent that much has happened since our last gold post. While the FOMC’s committee attempts to find some middle ground in future meetings we can also expect a specific plan as to how they will approach their monetary policies from now on. Bernanke’s comments are still unclear, though we should be able to identify his side in coming weeks. For those of you debating on investing in gold, you heard it from a seasoned stock professional. As Killian said, ‘buy the dip’ and take action while everyone is selling and benefit from the low prices. Just remember you have to be willing to hold onto these investments with a long-term mindset!

What do you think? Will you invest in gold? What are your thoughts about Michael Killian’s remarks? Let us know!

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Investing In Precious Metals


Why Investing In Precious Metals Is Popular

Investing In Precious MetalsInvesting in precious metals has become quite popular in recent years, as new and easier precious metals investment products have become available and more individual investors seek to diversify their investments into numerous asset classes.  Precious metals include a number of rare metals, such as gold, platinum, palladium, and silver that have commercial, industrial and/or historical investment value.  Many investment advisors recommend investors hold a portion of their investment portfolio in precious metals or other commodity investments to properly diversify their investments across several asset classes.  Many investors like to hold these rare and valuable metals in their investment portfolios, not only to diversify, but also as a hedge against economic crises and the potential for future runaway inflation.

In the old days, investors that wanted to invest in precious metals had to buy the physical metals and store them.  This made precious metals investing difficult for many individual investors, since storing physical precious metals, such as gold coins or bars of silver, was challenging for a number of reasons.  These include:  finding a suitable and secure storage container at a location owned by the investor or paying a third-party for secure storage and the risk of theft.  The barriers and costs associated with storing physical precious metals discouraged many individual investors from investing in these metals, which left precious metals investing to deep pocketed investment professionals and institutions.  Those days are long gone, as a variety of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), Exchange Traded Notes (ETNs), and Mutual Funds have been introduced in recent years that allow investors of all types to invest in precious metals as easily as they invest in stocks.  This, and a few other factors since the 2008/2009 economic crisis, has made precious metals investing very popular.

The Factors That Determine The Price of Precious Metals

Gold InvestmentOne important thing that individual investors need to understand regarding putting money into precious metals is that the price of these rare metals is ultimately determined by different factors than those that determine the price of more familiar investments, such as stocks and bonds.  While sometimes it is hard to pinpoint the factors that affect stock prices, the price of stocks is ultimately determined by the amount of underlying earnings earned by companies.  Bond prices are affected by both the interest rate policy set by the United States Federal Reserve and by the ratings associated with individual bonds, which is an indication of how likely the bonds will mature without default.  Precious metals prices are not affected by earnings, because they do not earn anything, and are not affected directly by interest rate policy or ratings, because they do not pay interest and are not at risk of default.  Instead, the factors that determine the price of precious metals can be quite abstract and even based on investor-psychology.

While precious metals have an intrinsic value that is based on their historical standing going back thousands of years as highly sought after metals and current supply and demand factors, there are many other not so easy to define factors that affect the price of precious metals on both a short and long-term basis.  Investors need to keep a long term outlook, and should ignore short term factors that influence the price of precious metals.

Some of the not so easy to define factors that affect the price of precious metals carry on for many years and decades, and therefore need to be considered by precious metals investors.  These include:  concerns about inflation and hyper-inflation, concerns about economic crises and collapse, concerns about the devaluation of currencies, etc.  While it may seem difficult to comprehend, these abstract factors can actually have a very big impact on the price of precious metals, which causes them to trade at a premium to their intrinsic supply and demand valuations.  How much of a premium is a result of these abstract factors is open to debate, but given the skyrocketing price of some precious metals in recent years in absence of significant supply constraints, it is obvious that they are playing a role in setting a premium price.  Another factor that appears to be skewing the price of precious metals in an upward direction in recent years is the ease at which investors of all types can now establish a position in these rare metals via ETFs, ETNs, and Mutual Funds.  This has created additional demand for precious metals.

The New Way To Invest In Precious Metals Via Funds

Gold BullionIndividual investors can invest in precious metals for the long-term via a variety ETFs, ETNs, and Mutual Funds that have been introduced in recent years.  It is extremely important to understand how these funds derive their valuation prior to investing in them, as the funds can use dramatically different methods of achieving their valuations, which can have a major impact on investment risk and long term returns.  For example, some funds invest in precious metals futures contracts and other financial products to derive their valuation.  This introduces both the risk of price decline due to the fact that futures contracts lose value over time as a result of price decay and the risk that in the event of a crisis, the funds hold no physical precious metals, and therefore the value of their investments are not based on actual precious metals holdings.  For investors looking to invest in physical precious metals, it is a good idea to invest via funds that purchase and store precious metals, as these funds derive their value from actual precious metals holdings.

The following are examples of precious metals funds that are currently available to investors:

  • ETFS Physical Precious Metal Basket Shares (GLTR) – GLTR is designed to replicate, minus expenses, the performance of the prices of physical gold, silver, platinum and palladium.
  • SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) -GLD is designed to replicate the performance, minus expenses, of the price of gold bullion. The trust holds physical gold in warehouses to obtain a true valuation based on gold holdings.

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