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Trading Gold & Silver

The important thing about the Gold-Silver Ratio is that it's tradable...

that silver is a volatile commodity, writes Brad Zigler at Hard Assets Investor.

After all, silver's jumped 34% this year. Gold, meantime, has climbed only 9%. As a result, the Gold-Silver Ratio – the ratio of the Gold Price to silver's price – has dropped from 80 to 66. Put another way, an ounce of gold could buy 80 ounces of silver on New Year's Day. Today, it only buys 66 ounces.

Gold got cheap – or rather, it got cheaper – in relation to silver, even as it climbed 9%. A lot of that has to do with the market's balance of fear and the prospects for economic recovery.

The important thing is that the ratio is tradable. Futures traders have known that for years. They've been able to make money from the ratio's vagaries by pitting opposite positions in Gold Futures against silver. When the ratio was expected to expand, they'd Buy Gold contracts and sell silver futures. For a contracting ratio, the trade would be reversed.

Until recently, securities traders could only trade one side of the ratio. But, with the introduction of the ProShares lineup of leveraged commodity ETFs (exchange-traded funds), margin-shy investors now have the option of trading the ratio both ways. [Ed.note: The impending launch of silver at BullionVault will enable private individuals to make this trade more safely still, moving in and out of silver or gold and into the other precious metal.]

This year, for example, equal-sized long positions in both the ProShares UltraShort Dow Jones-UBS Gold ETF (NYSE Arca: GLL) and the ProShares Ultra Dow-Jones UBS Silver ETF (NYSE Arca: AGQ) would have generated a 23% return. Considering the fact that the gold/silver ratio had shrunk by 18%, that's not bad.

It's all the more remarkable when you consider the volatility of the underlying metals. On its way to that 34% year-to-date gain, silver exhibited an annualized price volatility of 40%, nearly twice that of gold. The differential volatilities for the leveraged ProShares portfolios are equally dramatic. The ProShares portfolio cranks out a 71% annualized risk against the 46% rate chalked up by the gold fund. When the two funds are combined, though, the risk is comparatively tame.

This year, the gold/silver package exhibited a volatility of 38%. That earns the deal a rather healthy 0.93 reward-to-risk ratio.
If you think silver's continuing prospects are more bullish than gold's, you might want to consider the trading opportunities offered by the ProShares ETFs. Individually, the ETFs are very risky; combined however, the metals' volatility and the funds' leverage make for a pretty attractive gamble.

Start trading gold today – register for a free gram of gold at BullionVault... is a research-oriented website devoted to sharing ideas about investing in the natural resources sector. Published by Van Eck Associates Corporation, the site offers an educational resource for both individual and institutional investors interested in learning more about commodity equities, commodity futures, and gold – the three major components of the hard assets marketplace.

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Please Note: All articles published here are to inform your thinking, not lead it. Only you can decide the best place for your money, and any decision you make will put your money at risk. Information or data included here may have already been overtaken by events – and must be verified elsewhere – should you choose to act on it. Please review our Terms & Conditions for accessing Gold News.

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