By Kevin Grewal, editorial director at www.SmartStops.net

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - The recent uptrend in precious metals shows no signs of abating.

Precious metals offer protection against a downward spiraling market and the demand for them grows when consumer confidence wanes and employment numbers remain weak.

Most recently, a report said that Swiss banks are running out of storage space for gold bullion held by investors, a sign that the global demand for gold is still strong. Indeed, the World Gold Council has indicated that investment demand for gold surged 64% in 2008 on fears of fears of hyperinflation, grim economic news, and for many, a sort of insurance policy on investments.

Not only is the demand for gold strong, but indicators suggest that silver is in demand as well. From a fundamental perspective, silver has broken out of a declining trend-line. Secondly, silver seems to be attractive due to a slight increase in global industrial demand. Thirdly, silver, just like gold, can be used as a hedging tool against a weak U.S. dollar and rising oil prices. Finally, silver is highly affected by movements in gold, copper, lead and zinc mining.

Here are some ways to access these precious metals.

The SPDR Gold Shares ( GLD), up 17% from a January low of $79.79 to close at $93.71 on Monday.

The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF ( GDX), which is up 41% from its January low of $28.20 to close at $39.85 on Monday.

iShares COMEX Gold Trust ( IAU), which closed at $93.37 on Monday after a $79.86 January low, for a jump of 17%.

The iShares Silver Trust ( SLV), up 32% from its January low of $10.45 to close at 13.84 on Monday.

As with any other investment, these ETFs come with risks and an excellent way to mitigate these risks is through the use of an exit strategy. According to the most recent data from www.SmartStops.net, the price levels at which the uptrend of these indexes would be in trouble are: GLD at $92.28; GDX at $38.29; IAU at $92.39; SLV at $13.45. Keep in mind that these trigger signals change on a daily basis as the markets fluctuate. Updated data is available at www.SmartStops.net.

--Reported by Kevin Grewal in Laguna Niguel, Ca.

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