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Hedge Your Hedge in Precious Metals

Stocks in this article: GLTRUGLGLDGLLZSLAGQ

Editor's note: This piece originally ran earlier today on our newest Premium service, ETF Profits . Click here for a 14-day trial to this exciting product!

Tensions around the world continue to mount. The move toward oil and commodities grows as equity bulls begin to hesitate. Those looking to hedge against both geopolitical fears and inflation are using precious metals. Gold and silver have become the playmates of fear, whereas palladium stands a bit more on its own and platinum's performance is tied more to the economy. The ETFS Physical Precious Metals Basket Shares (GLTR) wraps these four metals into a single basket. Fortunately if you're looking for a hedge against equities, platinum and palladium make up only about 13% of the ETF. Normally, I would consider simply using gold and silver only, but the resilience of equities and weakness of the U.S. dollar make the inclusion of platinum and palladium a very attractive part of this hedge or portfolio inclusion.

With the unknowns of war and peace come volatility in equities and precious metals alike. Even though we've seen some volatility in precious metals, the more pervasive notion has been the trend. So rather than just buying GLTR outright, I want to examine a long/short strategy that could serve to mitigate some of the volatility in gold and silver, or as a hedge that could mitigate a trend, depending on a trader's outlook.

Leveraged ETFs draw their strength from a trending market, while a volatile market has a negative impact on their longer-term performance. One way to combat either situation is by pairing GLTR with some leveraged ETFs of the underlying holdings. In order to combat volatility within gold or silver (or both), a trader could approach a trade in the following manner:

Let's suppose a trader intended to buy $1,000 worth of GLTR; the underlying makeup would be roughly $454 worth of gold, $412 in silver, $81 in platinum and $53 in palladium. How could one maintain similar exposures, but perform better if gold and silver were volatile in their price patterns? Good question. One possible solution is to increase the purchase amount of GLTR to $2,000, thus doubling the dollar exposure to all the metals. Then the trader could short $227 of the ProShares Ultra Gold (UGL) to offset the additional $454 of gold exposure in the increased purchase of GLTR, and short $206 of the ProShares Ultra Silver (AGQ) to offset the additional silver exposure.

This model would generally outperform a straight purchase of just the GLTR shares if we experience volatility and price oscillation in gold, silver or both. The weightings of platinum and palladium are both increased, so that should be taken into account, as they would now make up about 26.8% of the holding, but that is also a level I find more responsible and desirable.

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