Gold, Silver Winning 2012 Asset Return Race With 11 Months Left

Gold outperformed (+0.5%) today (as the rest of its commodity peers lost ground on USD strength today) and Copper and Silver underperformed. But for January, Silver is the clear winner in the global asset return race (at almost a 20% gain) with Gold in 2nd place at around +11.2%. JGBs and the DXY (USD) along with UK Gilts and Oil lost the most ground among the major assets we track. The outperformance of the precious metals as the dollar ebbed along with the general 'last year's losers were January's winners' and vice-versa was evident as Asia Ex-Japan and EM equities surged along with Nasdaq (and Copper). Long-dated Treasuries have just limped into the money for the year as they rallied dramatically today - ending the day at their low yields (new record 5Y lows) with 30Y now -12bps on the week. FX markets gave a little of the USD strength back in the afternoon but the rally in stocks was almost entirely unsupported by risk assets in general (as it seemed like a desperate low-volume try to push ES back to VWAP into the close to hold the 50/200DMA golden cross in SPX) after this morning's dismal macro data. Financials rallied to fill some Friday close gaps but gave some back into the close as CDS inched wider and Energy underperformed as Oil came almost 3% off its early morning highs (managing to crawl back above $98 by the close). IG credit outperformed as HY and stocks were largely in sync but open to close, credit outperformed stocks on a beta basis (after overnight exuberance in stock futures faded).

 

Selected asset returns YTD (leaving Silver out due to its significant outlier nature on the y-axis at almost 20%) shows the reds (last year's losers) have tended to outperform and the greens (last year's winners) have underperformed in January. The dotted lines tended to be assets that moved only modestly and its clear that SPX and NDX have done well among that group.

A little tighter focus just on the US and precious metals shows an interesting limping lower post Bernanke in Stocks while PMs and Bond surged (perhaps QE was priced in or simply losing its mojo).

 

 

ES (the e-mini S&P 500 futures contract) managed to inch back up to VWAP (red oval) and then sell-off modestly into the close as heavy volume came in.

Once again we see ES tickled up by the algos to enable heavy institutional sell orders (much higher average trade size) at VWAP. This rally of the afternoon was not supported by any broad risk driver as Treasuries closed at low yields (and flattest curves), FX carry only just off its lows, and commodities weak with only credit (which we suspect was just being virtuously reracked as we heard volumes were thin in CDX). This dislocation is evident from the CONTEXT chart below, where correlations had been very high all day and fell apart as stocks rallied in the afternoon:

HYG and VXX also underperformed SPY but despite a surge in volumes in cash at the very close today, volumes in January for stocks were ridiculously low on average.  

Gold pushed higher all afternoon as its peers stabilized in the red for the day. Copper and Silver have resynced for now and Gold has become much less correlated.

Chart of the day goes to Treasuries in our view though as the sell-off yesterday afternoon and overnight was entirely rejected as macro data in the US along with desperation in the Greek PSI drove safe haven flows (and perhaps some month-end rebalancing) into the entire complex with the long-end (duration baby) benefiting most.

 

Charts: Bloomberg and Capital Context