The Golden Ticking Time Bomb

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Gold bugs are on life support and those who've hated gold as a "barbaric relic" are gloating. No one seems ready to call the bottom for the precious metal's decline either.

All we know, as of Friday, the end of the first quarter, gold prices are trading near three-years lows of around $1,215 an ounce. Silver is rallying off a bottom of around $18.47 on Thursday and rallying 6% Friday to around $19.60.

Silver-streaming company Silver Wheaton ( SLW) closed Friday up 7.5% at $19.67.

The golden version of SLW is Royal Gold ( RGLD), which closed up 4.5% at $42.08. Even the badly battered Market Vectors Gold Miners ( GDX) ETF, which just a few days ago hit a new 52-week low, popped 7.5% to $24.49 during the last trading day of the first quarter.

Standard Chartered analyst Daniel Smith recently put the gold quandary into perspective with some relevant comments: "Gold has been battered by the Fed's policy stance, while the change in U.S. real interest rates, which have turned positive in June, has become an element disproportionately negative for gold relative to other commodities."

That's why analysts like him believe the next support level for gold is lower than Friday's. Smith publicly stated that the "next short-term target stands at $1,160, but I think prices will be higher at the end of the year than they are now as the market starts to price in that the Fed's language will unlikely change from now on."

Let's take a look at the descent that SPDR Gold Shares ETF ( GLD) has experienced in the last 12 months.

GLD Chart GLD data by YCharts

In just the last three months we've seen GLD hit two bottoms, rally and then fall to new lows. Friday's rally might be the long-awaited "bottom" or just another head fake higher.

There are many reasons to think the later. Yet, like many great buying opportunities it always seems to look darkest before the dawn and bleakest before the blast-off.

It's also reasonable that an investor believes that the bigger investment theme isn't the physical metals but the incredibly undervalued mining stocks.

That's why I want to look at a one-year chart of GDX to see if there is a pattern of price movement that might give us hope that the bottom is in place or very near.

GDX Chart GDX data by YCharts

Holy guacamole! This looks strangely similar to the GLD chart. I can't see any reason to feel certain that the miners couldn't keep plunging even though I admit that Friday's upside volume for GDX was almost three times the three-month average daily volume.

So if you're looking for tremendous upside potential, you've probably come to one of the most promising sectors. The only big question is, when to pull the trigger?

My experience and costly lessons learned say don't be greedy, be willing to wait until the uptrend is firmly established even if you miss the first 20% or 30%.

One more thing: The cure for gold's and silver's falling prices are falling prices.

As producers cut back production and the price per ounce gets too cheap for new exploration, the supply will suffer. Buyers will say, "If I liked gold at $1,900 I love it at $1,200 or lower" and the demand will rise to meet the falling supplies. It's a recipe for an eventual new boom.

At the time of publication the author was long shares of GDX, RGLD, and SLW.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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