Silver futures contracts extended their winning streak into a ninth successive week on Monday (27 February), as traders continued to bet towards the upside, with commentators opining the move in tandem with rising gold prices could well be down to speculators bracing for a major 'risk-off' event, i.e. an equity market slump.
At 4:12pm GMT, Comex silver was up 0.59% or 48¢ at $18.51 an ounce. Concurrently, the Comex gold futures contract for April delivery was up 0.41% or $5.10 at $1,264.40 an ounce, while spot gold was up 0.38% or $4.78 at $1,261.95 an ounce, as prices stayed above the psychological $1,260-level.
Over the past nine weeks, gold has risen on eight occasions, while silver has risen in each of the past nine weeks.
Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at Forex.com, said the dollar-denominated and perceived safe-haven precious metals have risen at a time when Wall Street has repeatedly hit new all-time highs and despite the dollar holding near its multi-year highs.
"The metals' remarkable performance may suggest that investors are positioning themselves up for a major risk-off event – such as a collapse in the US stock markets. With the major US indices rising almost parabolically, it is just a matter of time before the inevitable happens. The trouble is, the parabolic rally could turn literally vertical before the markets start to head south.
"But one thing is for sure, we are getting very close to the upcoming stock market sell-off. This does not necessarily mean the markets will absolutely collapse. But we are anticipating there to be at least a sizeable correction," Razaqzada concluded.
Away from precious metals, oil futures returned to positive turf without showing any appreciable movement beyond the recent mid-$50 per barrel levels demonstrating little appetite for a spike above $60.
At 5:23pm GMT, the Brent front month futures contract was up 0.36% or 20¢ at $56.19 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was 0.44% or 24¢ higher at $54.23 per barrel, as the sideways tug of the upside risk of Opec production cuts and downside risk of rising US production continues.
Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at Nordic SEB, said Opec has been successful in its effort to dry up the market and shift the crude oil forward curve into backwardation, ie a situation in which the spot or cash price of a commodity is higher than the forward price.
"This is pushing front month contract higher versus longer dated contracts. While Opec is tightening up the front of the forward curve, recovering US shale production is loosening up the longer dated part of the balance. That is why the longer dated contracts are slipping.
"Opec probably hoped for a situation where the longer dated contracts stood at $55-60 per barrel, with Brent one month contract trading at a backwardation premium of $5 above that. It will possibly get its $5 backwardation premium but longer dated contracts are likely to slip lower leaving Opec with limited gain at the front end of the curve."
SEB analysts still think Brent will average $57.5 in the second quarter 2017 as the front end of the curve is flipping into backwardation with "erosion in longer dated contracts likely to continue."