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Gold as an Investment, Silver as a Trade

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.

NEW YORK ( The FRED Report) -- Here at The FRED Report we have been advocating gold as an investment for the last two years. On our weekly FRED Report conference call today, we highlighted our current thoughts. Readers can listen and watch the video recording, but we also review the concepts below.

Historically, the metals' markets are much healthier when gold is outperforming. Another way of looking at this is to say that silver is the more speculative metal. Silver has more industrial uses and these tend to impact price. We saw the result of silver out-performance in April of this year when metals and commodities pulled back sharply.

There have been other instances, though -- the best one that springs to mind is the last secular peak in the metals in 1980 -- as the Hunt brothers tried to corner the market in silver (and the reason they did this was pure speculation at the end of a long-term up-move in the metals and inflation). We consistently warn that when silver starts to outperform we are in a dangerous period for commodities in general, and metals in particular.

This is more of a condition indicator rather than a timing tool: Silver outperformed for several months before the blowup came, and this gave lots of opportunity to lighten up on commodities. We did this in spite of a long-term, bullish stance on the commodity markets. Right now, since gold has hit new highs we judge it to be outperforming, although on any given day silver may be better for aggressive traders.

The way we look at it is: if we bought the high trade in the Silver Trust iShare (SLV) in April we paid 48.35 and it is now around 39.17: a loss of 9.18. Whereas, if we bought the high trade in the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) we paid 153.03, and it is now 157.19: a gain of 4.16. Our point is gold is a better and more stable investment. We show weekly charts of GLD and SLV, below.

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SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
EWC $24.04 0.00%
EWA $19.25 0.00%
GDX $13.79 0.00%
GG $13.68 0.00%
FXA $71.70 0.00%

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