Timing & trends

Metals and Mining Shares – The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

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Posted by Peter Grandich - Grandich.com

on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:10

As I approach my 29th year in and around Wall Street, I find myself deeply immersed in the worst bear market of my entire career. In a business where failure is the norm, I went against my own multi-decade advice and “sent it in” on junior resource stocks. The results up until now are that I find myself down more on paper than I ever even imagined I could be worth. Given this and the fact that my main livelihood is generated from the junior resource industry, one may want to think twice (or even more) before even considering what I have to say. (I suspect my wife feels that way at the moment.)

The Good – Most of the good is found among the metals themselves and in particular gold and silver. What can only be described as the “stealth bull market of the 21st century” because despite returns well ahead of most other asset classes most Americans still have little or no real exposure to them, gold and silver still have very strong fundamentals long-term.

The “mother” of all bull markets continues thanks to four key reasons:

  • Once dominant sellers that capped any advances, Central Banks are now net buyers.
  • Gold producers, who once “cut their noses to spite their faces” by selling forward large quantities of future production and helped capped the price by doing so, now operate under the belief hedging is a “four-letter” word among investors.
  • Gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) greatly changed the balance between supply and demand. Investors who never or rarely sought exposure to gold beforehand (because of difficulties associated with physical bullion buying) and/or who ended using mining shares for exposure only to see them not come close to correlating movements in the gold price themselves, embraced ETFs in a big and powerful way in order to have exposure to gold. Whether or not those ETFs are really direct ways to physical ownership doesn’t concern them, but their large-scale appetite for them combined with the changes among Central Banks and gold producers greatly altered the supply versus demand in favor of demand.
  • Gold is money. There’s no Central Bank printing it like it’s going out of style. There’s no government(s) borrowed up to their eyeballs in it. Where you find real growing wealth in the world you find those people acquiring it are using gold as a storer of their wealth.


Not much good in the mining and exploration side of things so far in 2012 – especially as you move further down the food chain. Unlike other junior resource bear markets, this one doesn’t have easily identifiable reasons for it (but shall once hindsight fully kicks in). The good news is:

  • Much of what’s eventually becomes a mine is first found by a junior resource company.
  • The world is growing in population and the need for resources should grow with it
  • Hard to imagine anything more out of favor at the moment so from a contrarian standpoint, juniors should be appealing.

The Bad– Gold is, and always shall be, hated by most in the financial service industry and the media that makes a living following them. Because of this, perma-gold bears are far more fashionable and get much of whatever ink is thrown gold’s way. Their opposition is mostly relegated to being called kooks, tin-foil hat wearers, gold bugs and worshippers of a relic.

Despite general metals prices much, much higher than a decade or two ago, the mining and exploration industry is far more challenged now than ever before. This is especially true as you move further down the food chain in the junior resource sector. Among the numerous reasons for plight in the junior sector are:

  • The audience for mining and especially exploration shares has shrunk despite the dramatic increases in metals prices themselves. A clear example of that is the dramatic drop in the primary “end users” that used to be a key part of the demand side – brokers.
  • Years back, hundreds if not thousands of brokers built part or much of their book of business around the buying and selling of mining and exploration stocks. They each had 100 or even 500 clients and many of them ended up buyers of these shares. Unfortunately, these folks are now asset gathers and commission-driven buying and selling is ancient history. They no longer are active in the mining and exploration sector. This is also unfolding in the Canadian financial industry.
  • While the 43-101 rule truly reformed what used to be like the Wild, Wild West in the junior sector, it also removed any sizzle from the promotional side of things. While not a bad thing when one recalls what used to go on in this area, the downside to it is companies who are mostly sizzle and not yet steak can’t even light a match when speaking of their potential, let alone stroke the fire. That may be a good thing, too, but it wasn’t the case when these shares did much better as a group a decade or more ago (and a reason one must consider now whether they like it or not).
  • Regulatory and/or compliance factors have made it much tougher for juniors to attract attention. Again, this may or may not be a good thing, but it’s a fact of life as far as I’m concerned. In the States, most brokerage firms no longer allow solicitation of companies not trading on the NYSE or major NASDAQ markets. Some don’t even allow unsolicited orders anymore. Many compliance departments have made it difficult or impossible for their advisers to buy juniors-period.
  • Canadian investors may be surprised to find most Americans don’t find natural resources as “second nature” to them. Americans’ biggest concerns about natural resources are availability of gas to drive their cars and oil to heat their homes. They’re not keen on natural resource stocks and still think for the most part a gold mine is a hole in the ground with a liar standing next to it.
  • The junior sector is a “pimple” of an industry, yet 1,000 to 1,500 juniors are trying to find a few dozen so-called experts who can appreciate and talk about them in a mostlywhat’s-in-it-for-me mindset. The ability to get their story known is perhaps the biggest challenge and drag for a junior these days.
  • Reducing the hold period on private placements to just four months has hampered the juniors. Companies just can’t advance themselves up the corporate ladder in such short periods to warrant enough new interest to gobble up all these new free-trading shares that come to market.
  • Investment bankers now play the “warrant” game in order to keep deal flow going. They turn to their institutional buyer and suggest selling the shares that are coming free trading for either side of breakeven and hold the warrant as their leverage. Meanwhile, they take the freed up capital and buy their next deal.
  • Discount brokerage has also greatly added to what seems like an endless supply of shares. Years back, one held juniors at times simply because they couldn’t profit from selling them after just a few cents rise. Now, thanks to deep discount commissions, one can profit from the sale even if the share price is barely up.

I’m certain there are other reasons, but I believe the above is a good part of why we’re where we are today. The question now is does this mean the mining and exploration stocks are no longer worthy?

The Ugly – Ugliness appears confined to the equity side of things and far more within the junior sector versus major producers.

I’ve seen a report that showed of the 2,388 companies listed on the TSX Venture Exchange, 1,239 have less than 10% of their market value in cash. That means 52% of the Venture needs cash and will have to raise money. With many of these shares down 50%-90% in price, financings shall be highly dilutive if even able to do so. And trust me; the financiers holdall the cards!

The TSX Venture has been the worst performing stock exchange in North America for more than a year now. This decline is the second worst in its history percentage-wise. It’s hard to pinpoint any main reasons as commodity prices in general are still fairly strong, general equity markets have been volatile but net-net are still around levels from a year ago, so I think it has more to do with the reality of several points I noted in the bad section.

Bottomline – The “mother” of all bull markets continues in gold. Two consecutive closes above $1,650 should confirm this and only a break below $1,500 can call such a belief into serious question.

A friend sent me this by an unknown author:

History of Major TSX Venture Corrections And What Followed
(I define a major correction as a 20% decline or more in the overall TSX Venture Index)

The TSX Venture officially formed in 2001. Its starting value was 1,000.

The TSX Venture’s first major correction began on June 4, 2002 after it hit 1,244 (at that date it was a new all-time high). By October 30, 2002, it had bottomed out at 899.30 (losing 27% of its value). This marked a nearly 5-month-long correction (downtrend). After bottoming out on October 30, 2002, the TSX Venture went on a 16-month rally and peaked out on February 17, 2004 at 1,931.61. This marked a 114% rally from bottom to top over that 16-month period.

The next significant correction occurred from February 17, 2004 through to July 27, 2004. This was when the exchanged collapsed from 1,931.61 to 1,467.59 – a modest correction in comparison to what we are seeing today. Over that 5.5-month-period, the TSX Venture lost 24% of its value. However, once it bottomed out on July 27, 2004, it proceeded to go on an 8-month rally and touched 2,040.29 on March 7, 2005. This marked a 39% gain for the TSX Venture in that 8 month period.

The next significant correction was short-lived. The TSX Venture Exchange dropped from 2,040.29 on March 7, 2005 and bottomed out on May 17, 2005 at 1,593.63. This marked a 2-month decline of 22%. It was quite a vicious decline considering how quickly it happened. However, once the correction bottomed out, the TSX Venture went on a monster rally. After bottoming on May 17, 2005 at 1,593.63, the TSX Venture went on a 12-month rally to 3,292.49 (hit May 11, 2006). This marked a gain of 106% in a year.

Following that massive rally, the TSX Venture collapsed from 3,292.49 on May 11, 2006, to 2,322.48 on October 4, 2006. This marked a 5-month decline of 29.5%. However, following that correction, the TSX Venture rallied to all-time highs. It hit 3,369.79 on May 7, 2007. This marked a 7-month gain of 45%.

The next significant correction, after the TSX Venture hit an all-time high, was short and vicious. The TSX Venture went from 3,369.79 on May 7, 2007 to 2,445.23 on August 16, 2007. This marked a 3-month decline of 27.5%. However, following that correction, the TSX Venture rallied to 3,173.64 on November 6, 2007. This marked a 3-month gain of 29.5%.

The next significant correction was the worst any of us have ever seen, but it set up a golden rally for those that stayed at the table and kept buying. After hitting 3,173.64 on November 6, 2007, the TSX Venture went on a 13-month decline and bottomed out at 686 on December 9, 2008. This marked a 78.3% decline over a 13-month period. Great companies with world-class assets were deemed worthless by the market. What a mistake that turned out to be for those selling anywhere near the lows. After the TSX Venture bottomed out, it went on a 27-month rally and hit 2,439.83 on March 4, 2011. This marked a 255% gain in just over 2 years – the greatest rally for any of the major markets in North America during that time period.

The next significant correction for the TSX Venture is the one we currently find ourselves in. Although there was a short-lived rally at the start of 2012, the downtrend in the TSX Venture has been steady since March 4th of last year. Since hitting 2,439.83 on March 4, 2011, the TSX Venture has collapsed down to as low as 1333 on October 4, 2011 (it has been bumping along the bottom ever since). That marks a 45.5% decline from its March 4, 2011 value. That also marks the 2nd largest drop in the history of this exchange. Now, given that we have been bumping along near the bottom of this collapse for 7 months, one can argue that ‘this time is different’. However, every time a market crash occurs, that argument is brought to the forefront.

Those are the statistics behind the 7 crashes the TSX Venture has experienced in its 11 year existence. Crashes and rallies are a part of its genetic make-up. Let’s look at the TSX Venture’s historical averages:

  • Average loss (in percentage terms) during a correction (peak-to-trough): -36.25%
  • Average duration of a bear market in the TSX Venture: 5:78 months
  • Average gain after a correction (trough-to-peak): 98.08%
  • Average duration of a bull market in TSX Venture: 11.83 months

I suspect at best we shall see an “L” shape recovery for the remainder of 2012 as heavy tax-loss selling is likely to hit as early as late summer (and any significant rallies shall be deemed by many as a chance to end or lessen the pain). The only hope of a big sustainable rally would be on a strong rise in gold towards $2,000 an ounce.

Adam Hamilton noted recently,

“….While gold’s secular bull propelled it 638% higher at best between 2001 and 2011, the flagship HUI gold-stock index blasted an astounding 1664% higher at best by last September. This performance is epic, as over the same secular span the benchmark S&P 500 actually fell 14%. The gold stocks have leveraged gold by 2.6x so far.

With gold stocks exploding nearly 18x higher during a secular bear where the stock markets were flat, they should be the most popular sector on the planet today. But their recent serious correction of 41% over eight months as measured by the HUI has totally obliterated bullish sentiment. The bears have tried to rationalize these losses as the new normal (as opposed to a temporary selloff) by attacking earnings.

They claim gold stocks are doomed to drift even lower indefinitely because the rising costs of gold mining are rapidly eroding profits. And the lower the earnings gold stocks as a sector can generate, the lower their stock prices should be as investors refuse to overpay for future profits streams…”

The mining industry is indeed challenged on several fronts, including:

  • Political and environmental hurdles much higher than a decade or more ago
  • Operational costs
  • Shortage of skilled labor

Despite this, producers are very compelling going forward.

In October of 2003, the TSX Venture Exchange traded at the same level it does today. What’s important to note about October 2003 is that gold traded for roughly $380 an ounce – it trades 425% higher today. In October of 2003, silver traded for about $5 an ounce – it trades 600% higher today. In October of 2003, a barrel of oil traded for $30 – it trades 320% higher today.  In October 2003, Comex copper traded for $0.92 – it currently trades 415% higher.


The TSX Venture has always been a boom/bust exchange. It’s extremely volatile. The exchange has existed for 11 years and during that time; it has gone through 7 bear markets of its own (market downturns of 20% or more). While the bust cycle can still linger, history suggests we’re on either side of a bottom. Assuming all sharp objects have been removed and the wife and kids have not left by now, junior resource players may want to “gamble” on history repeating itself one more time and look forward to celebrating the arrival of 2013.

Gold meanwhile, shall once again slap the overwhelming number of perma-bears in the face again on its way to a new, all-time high.




Timing & trends

The Bottom Line

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Posted by Don Vialoux - Timing the Market

on Monday, 02 July 2012 08:38

 North American equity markets are believed to have reached an intermediate low on June 4th. However, macro and micro events (e.g second quarter reports) are expected to dampen enthusiasm for equities until the second half of July. Look for lots of volatility between now and then. This is typical of a market that is developing a base building pattern prior to an important intermediate move on the upside. Now is the time to do your homework on markets and sectors that are top purchase candidates after the base building period is complete.

From Equity Clock: Its about to get Interesting - VOLATILITY S&P 500 Index (^VIX) Seasonal Chart

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The spectacular response in equity and currency markets to news from Europe on Friday about a possible resolution of Europe’s credit crisis had a significant impact on short term technical indicators. Many markets and sectors at least moved above their 20 day moving average.

Significance of the Eurozone agreement is yet to be revealed. The two page document is the starting point for a plan. The devil is in the details.

Macro events will continue to impact equity markets this week. International events that could impact markets this week include China’s PMI on Sunday night, PMI indices from Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Eurozone on Monday, Merkel and Monti meeting on Wednesday and Bank of England and Eurozone central bank interest rate announcements on Thursday.

Intermediate technical indicators improved, but were surprisingly muted. Many equity indices moved to the high end of their recent trading range, but failed to break above those levels. Above these levels lies a band of resistance. Tests of the band of resistance are expected to happen early this week.

Economic news this week is expected to confirm that economic growth in the U.S. continues to slow. The focus is on the employment report on Friday.

Earnings news is not a factor this week. However, the frequency of negative guidance prior to release of second quarter results has escalated and responses to negative guidance has been substantial. Analysts continue to lower consensus second quarter revenue and earnings estimates, sighting slowdowns in Europe and China and the negative impact of currency translation. Despite a year-over-year earnings gain of 33% by Apple, the largest S&P 500 company, S&P 500 companies are expected to report a year-over-year earnings decline of 0.7%.

Seasonal influences early in July are positive during the U.S. Independence day holiday and surrounding days. Main reason for strength is quarter-end money flows and positive anticipation of second quarter results. The former likely will happen, but the latter likely will not.

Cash on the sidelines remains substantial, but is unlikely to be invested until the market determines who will become the next U.S. President.


North American equity markets have a history of moving higher during the second half of a U.S. Presidential election year.


Volumes will be lighter than usual this week due to statutory holidays.

The S&P 500 Index gained 27.14 points (2.03%) last week with all of the gain occurring on Friday. Intermediate trend is down. The Index is testing the top of an eight week trading range between 1,266.74 and 1,363.46. The Index remains above its 20 and 200 day moving averages and moved above its 50 day moving average on Friday. Short term momentum indicators are neutral.

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The TSX Composite Index gained 161.02 points (1.41%) last week. Intermediate trend is down. Seven week trading range is between 11,209.55 and 11,824.61. The Index remains below their 50 and 200 day moving averages, but moved above its 20 day moving average on Friday. Short term momentum indicators are neutral. Strength relative to the S&P 500 Index has returned to negative from a brief period at neutral.

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Crude Oil gained $4.84 per barrel (6.05%) last week. Intermediate trend is down. Crude remained below its 50 and 200 day moving averages, but moved above its 20 day moving average on Friday. Short term momentum indicators are recovering from oversold levels. Strength relative to the S&P 500 Index is negative, but showing early signs of change.

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Gold gained $26.00 per ounce (1.65%) last week. More than the week’s gain was recorded on Friday. Intermediate trend is down. Seven week trading range is between $1,526.70 and $1,642.40. Gold remained below its 200 day moving average and closed just below its 20 and 50 day moving averages. Short term momentum indicators turned upward from oversold levels on Friday. Strength relative to the S&P 500 Index is neutral/slightly positive.

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Go HERE for more of  Don's Vialoux's Monday analysis of 45 Market Charts


Timing & trends

A Terrifying Snapshot of What The US is Coming To!

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Posted by Peter Grandich - Grandich.com

on Friday, 29 June 2012 00:00

 Peter Grandich: While the news is full of Obamacare, I found this video far more disturbing about where this country is heading.


Picture 3

Click this LINK HERE to watch and read about American Muslims Stoning Christians with Impunity in Dearborn in front of Pollice



Timing & trends

Monster Head & Shoulder Tops & Dangerous Markets

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Posted by Richard Russell - Dow Theory Letters

on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 09:37

Below, the euro -- Is that a monster head & shoulders top that I see?


This is a monthly chart of the Dow going back two years. Note the volume dropping off bearishly on the climb from the September low. The diminishing volume suggests that the bear market will be extended and deceptive. I am using the monthly Dow to eliminate all intra-month movements, which could be confusing. I believe the continuing bear market will be expressed by a long series of monthly declines in the Dow -- just as the rise from the September low was expressed by a series of rising Dow monthlies. 


Below is a sensitive chart showing the percentage of NYSE stocks holding above their 50-day moving averages. The percentage now is down to 29.9%, meaning that 70% of the stocks on the NYSE are now trading BELOW their 50-day moving averages -- and the percentage has been dropping off as we move along.

Despite these pictures of what is actually happening, I note that many big-name analysts are bullish. For instance, the famous Meredith Whitney states that she is "wildly bullish on the US." She may be correct in her opinion, but I go by the stock market's opinion. The chart just above hardly backs the case for "wild bullishness," but if the evidence changes, I hope to be nimble and unprejudiced enough to change with it.

I'm not kidding myself, this is a devilishly difficult market to deal with or analyze. My work shows that we are in a tricky and deceptive bear market. The evidence, as I write, remains bearish. Furthermore, the economic news remains bearish, despite all the public relations efforts to give the news a bullish slant. 



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Timing & trends

Tasting the Medicine of Deleveraging - June 24

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Posted by Victor Adair via Union Securities

on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 00:00

I divide my participation in the markets between my short term trading accounts and my long term savings accounts. I use my short term trading accounts to move in and out of the futures and options markets with positions that I may hold for a few days to a few months. I try to earn trading profits with these accounts but I also see this activity as "keeping my hand in" as I try to gauge what is going on day-to-day in the markets (See Charts Section below.)

My objective with my long term savings accounts is capital preservation and for the past couple of years I've been very conservative...mostly in cash...as I'm far more interested in hanging onto that money than in trying to earn a couple of extra percentage points by reaching for yield. My short term trading accounts and my long term savings accounts constitute ~95% of my net worth. Over the past couple of years I've diversified my currency exposure by swapping ~25% of my net worth into US$ at an average of ~9700 USDCAD.

I've also been pretty conservative with my short term trading accounts. I rarely use leverage and the manic-depressive mood swings of the markets have kept me defensive. Over the past few months I've realized that I have little ability to handicap the short term European political response to their growing debt crisis...and thus little ability to anticipate the risk-on/risk-off price swings that result from changing perceptions of the European political theater.

My long term view of what is happening in the world makes me comfortable to have my savings largely in cash. I think we've had a 30 year credit boom, the greatest in human history, and that produced a great boom in asset prices and a great willingness, by both borrowers and lenders, to finance risk. I think we are now in a major reversal of that 30 year credit boom, and that this reversal will play out over several years as leverage is wrung out of the markets. Assets that boomed the most on debt financing will likely fall the most as leverage is reduced. To quote Gary Shilling, we are in an "Age of Deleveraging" and I anticipate that deleveraging will grind on relentlessly, regardless of the rearguard actions of central banks and governments.

Perhaps one of the most painful consequences of "Way more money has been borrowed than will ever be repaid" is that "Way more promises have been made than will ever be kept." It seems to me that politicians of all stripes will try to avoid or deny this problem....but the math is overwhelming...some promises are going to be broken...and some people are going to get hurt as a result of that.  

The world economy seems to be falling back into a recession, or worse, as the deleveraging process continues...markets are pricing that in...weak credits have to pay more to borrow money while stronger credits pay less. Commodity prices remain under pressure. Increasing stress on the financial system seem likely to change our world in ways that we haven't anticipated...and may be poorly prepared to deal with....for instance we will likely see widespread "new arrangements" for pension payouts.

My default position when I look at financial markets is skeptical...I don't think of myself as a pessimist...but rather as a realist anticipating the inevitable consequences that come after 30 years of irrational exuberance - financed with other people's money! I expect that one of the key social divides in our not-so-distant future will be "Who is going to pay?" Who is going to have their "entitlements" cut? Who is going to have their "taxes" raised?

Charts Section

(Note: I'm not a trading advisory service. I'm not going to detail my personal trades...but here are a few charts that I find interesting...)

Crude: Short term oversold? Prices are at key support. Decline since Feb. anticipating global economic slowdown / reduced Iran tensions / increasing crude production / and maybe, "substitution" of crude demand with Nat Gas?


Gold: A test coming of key support levels ~ $1525/35? Downtrend from last September highs looks powerful


Silver: Right at key support levels…I’d expect a break below $25.


Silver/Gold ratio: continues down from Key Turn Date May 2, 2011. Not positive for “risk” trades.


LME Aluminium: Often over-looked relative to copper. But it grinds lower from Key Turn Date May 3, 2011. Hearlding global economic slowdown?


US Ten Year Note: Did we finally make a top in a 30 year bull market in bonds? Maybe…but selling powerful up-trends is rarely a profitable strategy!


But it is interesting to note on the daily charts that the recent Turn Date of June1/June 4 remains intact and that TNote prices had their lowest close in a month even as the S+P reversed sharply from resistance this past week…



Japanese Yen:  the Yen had its lowest close in nearly two months and the recent June 1/ June 4 turn date remains intact. Is the Yen finally starting its long predicted downtrend?







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