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.
When the stock market rises, gold investors have been conditioned to expect bad news in their corner of the financial markets. Yet even with the nice bounce that stock investors earned today, gold held its own, with spot gold falling $1 to $1,256. Other precious metals eased slightly, with silver falling just over a dime per ounce to $19.56, platinum remaining unchanged at $1,407, and palladium dropping another $6 per ounce to $715. The SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEMKT:GLD) fell a penny per share today, while the iShares Silver Trust (NYSEMKT:SLV) slid just 0.2%.
As you'd expect, part of the reason why gold wasn't able to regain any of its lost ground from earlier in the week was that fears about problems in emerging-market economies eased a bit today. Investors appeared more confident that any issues in trouble spots like Turkey and Argentina would remain relatively confined. At the very least, expectations of any change in Federal Reserve policy resulting from the turmoil seem unlikely, and that seems to be one of the key focuses that gold investors have in assessing the macroeconomic risks involved. That could change if moves like India's unexpected quarter-point interest rate hike earlier today become more frequent, but for now, precious-metals investors don't think the Fed will do an abrupt change in policy.
On the mining side, gold stocks did well, with the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEMKT:GDX) jumping 2.2% to regain much of its lost ground from yesterday. One report from Societe Generale and Thomson Reuters noted that mining companies for the most part didn't avail themselves of brief spikes in gold prices last year to implement hedging strategies, instead betting on higher prices in the future by staying wholly exposed to market fluctuations. The report actually expects more miners to de-hedge their positions, which could support the market in the long run.
Yet some are concerned with the pace at which Goldcorp (NYSE:GG), Kinross Gold (NYSE:KGC), and other producers have cut costs to try to protect profits. Efficiency gains are always good, but as a Barron's article pointed out earlier today, capital expenditures generally can't get deferred forever. Investors need to watch on a case-by-case basis to see if fourth-quarter earnings reports show sustainable cost reductions or one-off temporary cost-cutting that will eventually have to give way to operational needs.
Tomorrow, the focus will be on the Fed and its policy announcement. Unless the Fed stops tapering its bond-buying activity, gold probably won't get much support on the monetary policy front.
Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter: @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.