The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.
We saw a sharp move higher in silver spot prices last week in part due to strong fundamental demand from major markets like India and China in addition to the overall risk-off trade in global equity markets last week which caused investors to pile back into precious metals like gold and silver.
Here is our quick analysis on some of the fundamental drivers of the recent moves and what it means for Silver Wheaton. The company competes with silver manufacturers like Silver Standard Resources (SSRI), Pan American Silver (PAAS), Bear Creek Mining (BCM) and Endeavor Silver (EXK).Silver has been pushed to its current price of about $36.70 per ounce by the rising global demand. The biggest contributor to this push has been the strong demand for silver in India after the precious metal hit the lows of $33 per ounce earlier this month. Silver and gold imports for the country surged by 500% in May on a month-on month basis and 222% compared to May 2010. India's bullish sentiments towards precious metals is evident from the fact that over the last month, the Reserve Bank of India granted permission to seven new banks to import gold and facilitate investments. Moreover, with India's benchmark indices -- Sensex and Nifty -- under-performing on weak global cues, investors have shied away from stocks and are investing in precious metals. China also expects a lot of demand for silver this year. Philip Kalpwijk, executive chairman of GFMS, a leading global consultancy, detailed in a conference recently that the increased focus towards silver investment products, combined with a forecast 16% annual growth in industrial demand, will lead to China's total silver demand outstripping its supply. "There is a widening demand for silver as investment in China because of its lower entry point. It is also being increasingly recognized as an physical investment asset, which will support demand," he added. Silver Wheaton is the world's largest silver streaming company with more than 14 silver streaming contracts with the producers and miners. The company primarily enters into these contracts with companies that produce silver as a by-product of their gold and copper mining activities.