April 28 (Bloomberg) -- The rally in silver to a 31-year high in New York shows no sign of ending because tight supply and robust demand will send the metal to a record, according to Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp., the largest U.S. producer.
“We’re in a legitimate market driven by financial interest in silver and strong industrial demand,” Chief Executive Officer Dennis Wheeler said today at the Bloomberg Link Precious Metals Conference in New York. “Supplies are relatively inelastic.”
Silver has surged 162 percent in the past year, outpacing the 31 percent gain in gold. Investment demand for silver jumped 40 percent in 2010 as inflation rose, currencies lost value and Europe’s debt crisis escalated, said researcher GFMS Ltd. Industrial use gained 21 percent last year and may climb to a record this year, London-based GFMS said.
The rally is “very different” from the surge in the late 1970s, when the Hunt brothers tried to corner the market, and in 1980, when prices touched a record $50.35 an ounce, Frank McGhee, the head dealer at Integrated Brokerage Services, said at the conference.
“There is no manipulation going on in this market,” McGhee said. “It does not take a lot to stop the market until this market decides to go. I’d like to categorize silver as a freight train.”
Silver futures for July delivery rose $1.554, or 3.4 percent, to close at $47.541 on the Comex in New York. Silver reached $49.845 on April 25.
Discovering new deposits has become more difficult, while “older mines cease production at a time when demand continues to grow,” said Wheeler, whose company is based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. High prices are not “a short-term phenomenon,” and the metal may jump to $55 by the end of 2011, he said. Integrated Brokerage’s McGhee predicted $62.
Not everyone is bullish on silver. William Hamelin, the president of Ames Goldsmith Corp., forecast a drop to $35.85 by year-end. Some manufacturers are “leaning” toward using more substitutes, including copper and nickel, after prices surged, he said.
Coeur d’Alene, which is based in the Idaho city of the same name, fell 51 cents, or 1.6 percent, to settle at $31.70 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have jumped 84 percent in the past year, compared with a 19 percent gain for the Russell 2000 Index.
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