Sunday, January 25, 2009

Golden opportunity

Gold stocks advanced again last week, finishing with a 10% gain after a strong trading session on Friday. The gold sector has outperformed the S&P/TSX Composite Index by 96% since the sector’s October low. Investors are clearly gravitating toward the portfolio insurance afforded by precious metals. Poor broad market performance – both the Toronto market (down 7%) and the S&P 500 Index (down 5%) have lost ground in the last quarter – has investors turning to gold as an anchor in the market downdraft. With the price of bullion tipping $900 again there will be even more buying presence lifting the sector. The S&P/TSX Global Gold Index has been categorized as Stock Trends Weak Bearish since early December, signalling the sector’s move above the short-term trend. In the absence of any competing strength in another sector, momentum traders will extend the current rally.

Investors can either trade gold stocks or use a number of bullion commodity funds. The iShares COMEX Gold Fund (TSX:IGT) has been categorized as Stock Trends Bullish since early December, and shows the quality of the asset even in the face of a weakened Canadian dollar. The bullion fund, denominated in Canadian dollars, is up 19% over the past three months – well below the 81% return gold stocks have generated over the same period - but solid ballast in the stormy waters. However, if the loonie has bottomed, or at least stabilized, Canadian investors can expect to get more traction out of their bullion fund investments as we move further into the first quarter of 2009. Another fund that gives investors heavy exposure to bullion is Central Fund of Canada (TSX:CEF.A). It currently sports a Stock Trends Bullish Crossover indicator, a signal that the short-term (13-week) average price has moved above the long-term (40-week) average price. This intersection of trend lines is a primary buy signal for trend traders with an investment time horizon of two-months and beyond.

The iShares S&P/TSX Global Gold Index Fund (TSX:XGD) joins a growing list of TSX gold stocks that are triggering Stock Trends buy signals. Among these are Iamgold Corp. (TSX:IMG), Eldorado Gold (TSX:ELD), Kinross Gold (TSX:K), Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX), and Agnico-Eagle Mines (TSX:AEM). Kinross failed to advance last week, in contrast to the rest of the big cap gold stocks, but it is the first of this group to have a Bullish Crossover. Only 3% of TSX stocks are currently categorized as Stock Trends Bullish, so the addition of every new one should not go unnoticed.

Risk tolerant investors should consider the leveraged gold funds listed on the TSX: the Horizons BetaPro Global Gold Bull Plus Fund (TSX:HGU) and the Horizons BetaPro COMEX Gold Bull Plus Fund (TSX:HBU). These funds deliver 200% of the daily return of the respective underlying bullion and stock funds. More active investors betting on continued short-term performance of the sector can take a more aggressive gold position with these funds.
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