Silver ETF Investors Exit as Bear Market Looms on Rate Concerns

  • Investors pull $79 million this month from iShares Silver
  • Holdings in all silver ETF slide 2.9 million ounces this month

With traders pricing in near certainty that U.S. borrowing costs will rise next month, silver investors are heading for the exit.

This month through Thursday, almost $79 million was pulled from iShares Silver Trust, the largest exchange-traded fund backed by the metal. That would be the biggest monthly outflow since January. Holdings in all silver-backed ETF tracked by Bloomberg worldwide fell by 2.9 million ounces, set for the first monthly decline in 10 months.

Silver has been a victim of the same negative sentiment sweeping haven assets from gold to U.S. Treasuries, as traders price in increasing odds that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month. Fed Chair Janet Yellen reinforced that speculation as she told Congress Thursday that a rate hike “could well become appropriate relatively soon.” The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index is set for a second weekly gain.

“What’s been dominating the headlines has been the comments from Janet Yellen,” Tim Evans, the chief market strategist at Long Leaf Trading Group Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “Precious metals are not interest-bearing assets, and those investments are less valuable in an environment where rates are higher. Therefore, they demand a lower price.”

Silver futures for December delivery slipped 0.9 percent to settle at $16.624 an ounce at 1:52 p.m. on the Comex in New York, after touching $16.43, the lowest for a most-active contract since June. A close at $16.5608 or lower would mark a decline of at least 20 percent from a two-year high reached in August, meeting the common definition of a bear market.

Investors have also been pulling out of gold ETFs. Holdings declined by 3.1 percent since Nov. 9, the biggest six-day slide since July 2013, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Gold futures for December delivery slipped 0.7 percent to $1,208.70 an ounce, after touching $1,201.30, the lowest for a most-active contract since February.

The strength in the dollar curbed the appeal of industrial metals. Copper futures for March delivery fell 1 percent to $2.478 a pound on the Comex. On the London Metal Exchange, copper, lead and nickel also fell, while aluminum and zinc advanced. Tin settled unchanged.

— With assistance by Michael Roschnotti

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