While Americans slept, gold and silver prices plummeted in Asia. The low took place in Hong Kong at approximately 3AM New York time when spot gold flirted with the $1540 level and silver was around $26. A strong rally then took place after the London market opened half an hour later.
By the time Monday New York trading began at 8AM, spot gold was selling for $1626 and spot silver at $28.50 an ounce. So the average American investor wasn't able to buy into the carnage. The low prices set in Asia will almost certainly be tested in the future however and there is a good chance that will take place during U.S. trading hours. As of now though, the $30 support level for silver is history.
In the last three days, gold has experienced it biggest drop since the 2008 Credit Crisis. Silver has had it largest decline on record. There is significant technical damage, especially for silver. On the 24-hour charts, silver has decisively broken its 325-day/65-week simple moving average -- a key line in the sand separating bullish and bearish trading behavior. This level is in the low 1400s for gold. Silver's behavior is telegraphing that gold will almost certainly hit that level. If silver can't hold the 26 level in the future, the next stop for it will be in the 21/22 range.
What is causing the big drop in precious metals? Well, both silver and gold were extremely overbought at their highs. When this happens, a lot of traders were buying heavily on margin. This creates a situation where many of them will be forced to sell at the same time if any bad news takes place. Once the selling starts, the market cascades downward. We are seeing that with gold and silver right now. Such behavior is common in any strong rally and does not by itself indicate a bubble (that would require at least a 500% to 1000% yearly price rise for the precious metals).
While a rising U.S. dollar during September and new margin requirements from the CME last Friday have led to precious metals selling, the big problem is in Europe. The Greek debt and EU bank crisis is causing a liquidity crunch for the big trading houses and they are selling whatever they can to raise cash. The inadvertent result is that investors are being given the opportunity to pick up precious metals at bargain prices. A little patience might be advisable before hitting the buy button however.
Author: "Inflation Investing - A Guide for the 2010s"
Organizer, New York Investing meetup
This posting is editorial opinion. There is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.