Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
For precious-metals investors, the poor performance in the stock market has been a big contributor to a nice beginning for 2014. Today, though, a turnaround in stocks punished gold and other metals, with spot gold dropping about $8 per ounce to $1,245, sending SPDR Gold (NYSEMKT:GLD) down almost 1%. Silver fell $0.16 per ounce to $20.25, with iShares Silver (NYSEMKT:SLV) falling 1.3% as a result. Platinum was hit hardest on a percentage basis, falling $16 to $1,425, while palladium prices dropped $5 to $734.
The interesting news hitting the gold market came from the Federal Reserve, which started a review of the way commercial banks engage in commodities businesses. The practice was criticized last summer, as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase were sued in connection with aluminum warehouses that were allegedly involved in a hoarding scheme that resulted in higher prices for the metal than market conditions warranted. The Fed review will look for conflicts of interest and the potential systemic impact of commodity operations, with a request for public comment on proposed rules. JPMorgan has already announced that it would exit the physical commodities business, but the impact on the precious-metals markets could be substantial.
Mining stocks generally followed bullion lower, with the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEMKT:GDX) falling 2.4%. But bucking the downward trend was Thompson Creek Metals (NASDAQOTH:TCPTF), which soared 18% after announcing a 34% jump in molybdenum production for 2013 compared to 2012 as well as favorable updates on its Mt. Milligan gold and copper mine. Now that Thompson Creek expects Mt. Milligan to reach ordinary commercial production levels during the current quarter, investors finally stand a chance of seeing the full potential of the lucrative mine help Thompson Creek's long-suffering results.
In the near term, gold investors should expect the price of the yellow metal to track the inverse of stock market returns. Yet with some signs of heightened activity in the space, gold could continue to rebound modestly even if stocks fail to implode in 2014.