Silver price begins to catch up with gold

After climbing 36% in the last month alone, the silver price has hit a seven-year high.

If gold is the “money of kings” then silver is “that of gentlemen”, says Ned Naylor-Leyland of Jupiter Asset Management. The two precious metals are “siblings”. 

While the gold rally has grabbed the headlines, silver has gained 36% in the last month alone. It reached $24 an ounce this week and was close to £19/oz in sterling terms, a seven-year high. The pace of recent gains has been frenetic, with silver jumping by 15% last week. 

The rally has been driven by similar forces to those pushing gold higher: falling real yields and a growing desire for a safe haven. Yet the recent price action is a reminder that silver is a much more volatile commodity than gold. Silver tends to follow gold, but at a “lag”, says a recent Goldman Sachs note quoted by Krystal Chia and Ranjeetha Pakiam on Bloomberg. Typically, a gold rally gets underway first, then gold bulls, looking for a way to diversify their bets, turn to silver. The metal has been trading at “close to a record discount” to the yellow metal this year but is now stepping “out of gold’s shadow”. The gold/silver ratio certainly suggests further upside, says Naylor-Leyland. In 2011, when silver hit a record $49.50, you needed 32 ounces of silver to buy one ounce of gold, yet that ratio has expanded to approximately 80. 

In addition to being a precious metal, silver is also used in industry, including fast-growing areas such as solar panels, 5G networks and 3D-printing. Around half of silver demand stems from industry. Supply constraints are proving another tailwind, says Clara Ferreira Marques on Bloomberg. Latin America is the world’s biggest silver miner, but virus-linked closures in Peru and Mexico should see production fall by 7% this year according to figures from The Silver Institute. There is “room for silver to keep shining”.

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