The price of gold may be flying so far in 2016, but the yellow metal is still trailing the miners plucking it from the ground. Steven Dunn, executive director at ETF Securities, says investors should not abandon the physical metal to jump on the miner bandwagon so quickly.
"There's a lot of leverage and debt in the miner space," said Dunn. "If you are looking at it from a risk-parity type of trade of metal vs. miners, there is a lot more risk associated with the miners currently.
Gold, as tracked by the ETFS Physical Swiss Gold ETF (SGOL) , is up 17% year to date. The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) , which holds mining giants like Barrick Gold (ABX) , Goldcorp (GG) and Newmont Mining NEM, is up 41% since the start of 2016.
As for the factors driving gold higher, Dunn says it starts with the volatility investors have been feeling in the equity market.
"People are starting to look to gold as the safe-haven trade again," says Dunn. "That's where you have seen the flows really come from."
Silver, as tracked by the ETFS Physical Silver ETF (SIVR) , is up 8% year to date, substantially beating the equity market, yet still trailing gold. Dunn says silver is more of an industrial metal than gold, because it is used in electronics, so demand is less emotionally driven.
"Silver is heavily impacted by what is going on in China and in the electronics space," says Dunn. "You get the characteristics of both gold and other metals."
Dunn says investors interested in the ETFS Physical Palladium ETF (PALL) , down over 7% year to date, and the ETFS Physical Platinum ETF (PPLT) , up 5% this year, should remember that these precious metals are heavily dependent on automobile -- not just jewelry -- demand.
"Platinum and palladium play a role as part of the catalytic converter in cars, so as emissions standards increase, you will see more of these metals used in that process," says Dunn.