20 April 2011

Are the Miners Underperforming the Metals?

In short, the answer is yes.  That seems to be the case to some degree.

The reasons for this are roughly as follow.

From past analysis, the mining sector seems to be roughly correlated 50 percent to the underlying metal, and 50 percent to the SP 500. Obviously this varies over time because of related factors, lags and correlations, but it is not a bad rule of thumb.

Right now the SP 500 is underperforming the metals. I am showing the SP 500 compared to gold, because silver is in such a powerful short squeeze that almost everything is underperforming it.

In addition, the correlation of the miners to the SP 500 has been a little more variable of late because of the 'risk on, risk off' sector rotations. The miners seem to be affected greatly by this.

I have noticed in the past that the miners, particularly the juniors, tend to get their biggest moves near the end of tops in legs of the metals moves, playing a sort of 'catch up.' I have not done any rigorous analysis on that lately.

But it is important to note that the reason why the metals are moving is a significant factor on the miners. If it is a risk off flight to safety, chances seem to be good that the miners will underperform. If it is more of an inflation trade, the miners may catch up in relative valuations and their leverage seems to work in one's favor.

To make things even a little more complicated, various pair trades and arbitrages come in and out of fashion amongst the speculating crowd in the hedge funds, who swing a big stick on short term pricing these days.  Long metals and short miners is a trade that temporarily distorts for example.

Someone just sent me this piece by my friend Dan Norcini and I think he makes some great points on the arb trades to which I allude above.

Again I have to caution that I have not done the kind of recent rigorous analysis on this that I have done in the past, because for my own purposes it is 'working' for me. Perhaps I shall have another look at it.

As a special note, I want to thank all the kind people who bring things to my attention by email. I cannot look at everything, and even if I may have seen it, I am always grateful, just a little less so perhaps if I have an active link to it on my site. lol.

I am busy making preparations for some special meals on the holiday and it has me on the run. Prime Rib, ham, turkey, fresh and smoked sausages, and all the sides, and even the children have been helping, learning along with the adults, with some special treats and cakes.

Try to remember the poor in these times, because many families are enduring their private hells and hardships, despite all the griping by those who imagine that the poor are lazy people living in luxury. I don't see many of them volunteering for that. If it were true, Goldman Sachs would be living in homeless shelters. People say, why doesn't God do something about this, why doesn't he help the poor and straighten these things out. Well, He did do something. He sent you.

Spring is in the air, and life is resilient. We are not in thrall to any morose doctrine, nor bound by hopeless despair. Let's remember that one of the early names for the Christians were 'the Easter people,' and hallelujah and our Father was their song. And this is our legacy, our life. Not the dried bones of those who are already dead, scuttling around in darkness, grasping for things and the lives of others, desperately trying to fill their emptiness. These are no great souls but the husks of men, destined to the trash, nameless, the leavings of Gehenna.

The tomb is empty and death is overthrown, and there is nothing for us there.