Silver’s price performance soared in the first half of 2016, fueled by increased investor interest in silver as a safe haven asset and as leveraged exposure to gold’s price rally. In the period January 4 – July 11, silver’s price increased 44.7 percent, based on the LBMA Silver Price, significantly outpacing all of the other precious metals.
Investors actively accumulated silver in the first six months of the year, including both the physical and paper markets. Exchange traded product holdings rose by 44.3 million ounces (Moz), or 7.2%, to a record high of 662.2 Moz. Investors have also raised their net long positions in COMEX silver futures and options to a record high of 80,522 contracts as of July 5th. Net longs have been trending higher all year, starting from 6,282 contracts at the end of 2015.
Coming on the heels of record global silver coin demand in 2015, silver coin sales increased in the first quarter of 2016 by 29 percent globally, according to the GFMS Thomson Reuters Quarterly Coin Sales Survey. Regionally, North America has continued to be the bright spot in silver investment product demand. In the coin market, coin sales grew at double digit paces in all the major regions (North America, Europe, Japan, Asia, Africa, & Other), as coin demand has remained elevated since the second half of last year.
Demand for silver bars, however, has weakened some during the first half of this year, mainly due to the somewhat price-sensitive nature of investors. “We are hearing from many retail investors interested in gaining exposure to silver for the reasons of portfolio diversification and silver’s strong fundamentals,” stated Michael DiRienzo, the Silver Institute’s Executive Director.