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Are Silver and Copper Prices Predicting a Global Recession?


The bear markets in copper and silver are attempting to warn of slower economic condition ahead.

Silver and copper have recently been going through their own private bear markets. Since the open on September 1st, silver futures have sold off by more than 25%. During the same time frame, copper futures sold off by around 24%. Both metals are extremely oversold, but lower prices are still possible.

Are the bear markets in copper and silver an attempt to warn market participants that slower economic condition are ahead? Are equities going to take a huge hit on slower future growth?

The notion that lower copper prices will precede a stock market selloff is generally an unfounded allegation. Recently Jason Goepfert of produced the follow table illustrating the returns of the S&P 500 immediately following a bear market in copper over the past 25 years:

The chart above is additional proof that a massive selloff in copper does not necessarily have a major impact on the returns for the S&P 500. However, I would remind readers that volatility in commodities generally precedes volatility in equities.

Precious metals may be getting close to a possible intermediate term bottom. Silver and copper futures are extremely oversold based on a variety of indicators. However, the key to future price action likely will revolve around the price action in the U.S. Dollar Index.

The U.S. Dollar Index has been ripping higher throughout most of September. The rally in the Dollar is placing pressure on risk assets such as equities, precious metals, and oil. The daily chart of the U.S. Dollar Index is shown below:

Click to enlarge

So far the U.S. Dollar Index has been held back by the $79 price level which has been acting as resistance, but if prices can breakout above recent highs it would not be shocking to see the U.S. Dollar Index test the 80 – 82 price range in the near future. A breakout would likely put additional pressure on silver and copper prices. The two charts below illustrate the recent correlation between silver and copper prices and price action in the U.S. Dollar Index:

Silver : Dollar Correlation

Click to enlarge

Copper : Dollar Correlation

Click to enlarge

Additionally the S&P 500 could break below the August lows and oil could follow suit if the Dollar continues to work higher above recent resistance. If October turns out to be an ugly month for risk assets as pundits have predicted, then the U.S. Dollar will likely perform relatively well in the intermediate future.
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