Bargain hunters forecast to seek silver lining in precious metal's slump

Credit: REUTERS/Michael Dalder

By Peter Hobson

LONDON, April 2 (Reuters) - The global sliver market will be undersupplied for a third year in 2020 as investors are lured by decade-low prices, offsetting expected falls in its use by jewellers and industry, a report forecast.

Prices XAG= tumbled to less than $12 an ounce – their lowest since 2009 -- from almost $19 during a 3-1/2-week period of mass selling in financial markets during February and March, but have since steadied around $14.

A sharp slowdown in global economic output as a result of the coronavirus crisis will help push use of silver in industries such as electronics and solar panels lower for a fourth year in 2020 -- to 511 tonnes from 555 tonnes in 2019, Refinitiv GFMS said in its annual Silver Market Review.

It also forecast demand for silver in jewellery will slip to 190 tonnes from 210 tonnes last year.

But rock-bottom prices and the perception of silver as a 'safe-haven' asset more likely to hold its value than others will lift purchases of silver bars and coins by retail investors to 261 tonnes, from 211 tonnes last year.

Exchange traded funds used by financial investors will grow their holdings by 84 tonnes after adding 80 tonnes in 2019, Refinitiv GFMS said.

Total global silver demand will weaken to 1,018 tonnes in 2020 – a three year low -- from 1,035 tonnes in 2019.

But a deficit of the metal will rise to 35 tonnes from 23 tonnes as total silver supply slips below 1,000 for the first time since 2013, the report said.

"We expect prices to recover from current lows, driven by bargain hunting, before moving higher later in the year once the market hysteria calms down and safe haven demand kicks in," said head of precious metals research Cameron Alexander.

He forecast prices would average $15.75/oz in 2020 -- 3% lower than last year.

SILVER SUPPLY AND DEMAND (tonnes)

2019

2020

% change

Mine Production

854

835

-2%

Net Government Sales

Scrap

160

149

-7%

Net Hedging Supply

-2

-1

-100%

TOTAL

1,012

983

-3%

Jewellery

210

190

-11%

Coins & Bars

211

261

19%

Silverware

59

56

-5%

Industrial Fabrication

555

511

-9%

…of which Electrical and Electronics

240

211

-14%

…of which Brazing Alloys & Solders

57

52

-10%

…of which Photography

38

34

-12%

…of which Solar

74

76

3%

…of which EO

4

4

0%

...of which Other Industrial

142

133

-7%

PHYSICAL DEMAND

1,035

1,018

-2%

PHYSICAL SURPLUS/DEFICIT

-23

-35

34%

ETF Inventory Build

80

84

5%

Exchange Inventory Build

90

48

-88%

NET BALANCE

-193

-167

-16%

Source: Silver Institute World Silver Survey 2019, GFMS, Refinitiv

(Reporting by Peter Hobson; Editing by Alexander Smith)

((Peter.Hobson@thomsonreuters.com; +44 207 542 0083;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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