Gold Miners: Were Upswings Just An Exhausting Sprint?

Indicators are pointing to gold and mining ETFs running out of breath. They don’t seem to have what it takes to move to the finish line.

Despite gold, silver and mining stocks’ recent corrective upswings, the precious metals are running out of steam. After bursting off of the lows – while failing to recognize that it’s a marathon and not a sprint – the precious metals’ late-week breather signals that their stamina isn’t what it used to be.

Moreover, with false breakouts and sanguine sentiment causing an adrenaline rush that’s likely to fade, the precious metals’ transformation from stalwart to sloth could leave investors feeling increasingly dejected.

Case in point: with the HUI Index (a proxy for gold mining stocks) already verifying the breakdown below the neckline of its bearish H&S pattern – which didn’t occur until later in 2008 – the miners’ outlook is actually more bearish now than it was then.

Please see below:

To explain, note that the 2007 – 2008 and the 2009 – 2012 head and shoulders patterns didn’t have the right shoulders all the way up to the line that was parallel to the line connecting the bottoms. I marked those lines with green in the above-mentioned formations. In the current case, I marked those lines with orange. Now, in both cases, the final top – the right shoulder – formed close to the price where the left shoulder topped. And in early 2020, the left shoulder topped at 303.02.

That’s why I previously wrote that “it wouldn’t be surprising to see a move to about 300 in the HUI Index”. And that’s exactly what we saw – the recent high was slightly above 299.

This means that the recent rally is not a game-changer, but rather a part of a long-term pattern that’s not visible when one focuses on the short-term only.

The thing is that the vast majority of individual investors and – sadly – quite many analysts focus on the trees while forgetting about the forest. During the walk, this might result in getting lost, and the implications are no different in the investment landscape.

From the day-to-day perspective, a weekly – let alone monthly – rally seems like a huge deal. However, once one zooms out and looks at the situation from a broad perspective, it’s clear that:

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (-Ecclesiastes 1:9)

The rally is very likely the right shoulder of a broad head and shoulders formation. “Very likely” and not “certainly”, because the HUI Index needs to break to new yearly lows in order to complete the pattern – for now, it’s just potential. However, given the situation in the USD Index (i.a. the positions of futures traders as seen in the CoT report, and the technical situation in it), it seems very likely that this formation will indeed be completed. Especially when (not if) the general stock market tumbles.

In addition, three of the biggest declines in the mining stocks (I’m using the HUI Index as a proxy here), all started with broad, multi-month head-and-shoulders patterns. And in all three cases, the size of the decline exceeded the size of the head of the pattern.

Can we see gold stocks as low as we saw them last year? Yes.

Can we see gold stocks even lower than at their 2020 lows? Again, yes.

Of course, it’s far from being a sure bet, but the above chart shows that it’s not irrational to expect these kind of price levels before the final bottom is reached. This means that a $24 target on the GDX ETF is likely conservative.

In addition, mining stocks are currently flirting with two bearish scenarios:

  1. If things develop as they did in 2000 and 2012-2013, gold stocks are likely to bottom close to their early 2020 high.
  2. If things develop like in 2008 (which might be the case, given the extremely high participation of the investment public in the stock market and other markets), gold stocks could re-test (or break slightly below) their 2016 low.

I know, I know, this seems too unreal to be true… But wasn’t the same said about silver moving below its 2015 bottom in 2020? And yet, it happened.

Keep in mind though: scenario #2 most likely requires equities to participate. In 2008 and 2020, the sharp drawdowns in the HUI Index coincided with significant drawdowns of the S&P 500. However, with the words ‘all-time high’ becoming commonplace across U.S. equities, the likelihood of a three-peat remains relatively high.

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Disclaimer: All essays, research and information found on the Website represent the analyses and opinions of Mr. Radomski and Sunshine Profits' associates only. As such, it may prove wrong ...

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Thomas Callahan 2 weeks ago Member's comment

You have been on the wrong side of the trade for a while now. At what point do you reassess your charting?

Przemyslaw Radomski, CFA 2 weeks ago Author's comment

I am reassessing my charts each day, and if bigger moves take place, many times per day. And... have I really been on the wrong side of the trade? I mean - do you know when I entered short positions and (profitably closed long ones) and what instrument I used? The positions that I entered (and discussed in my Gold & Silver Trading Alerts) were profitable shortly after entering them, and currently they are not, but they are very close to being so. Based on today's pre-market decline in gold, they will likely be profitable once again very soon, perhaps as soon as during today's session.