- What is silver trading?
- What is the gold-silver ratio?
- What moves the price of silver?
- How to trade silver
- Silver futures
- Silver spot prices
What is silver trading?
Silver trading is the method of speculating on the price of silver to profit from any movement in its value. While traditional silver investing would involve buying and holding silver bars and coins, silver trading enables you to gain exposure to the market price without taking ownership of the physical metal.
Most silver trading takes place via futures, spot prices, shares and ETFs. You can take advantage of rising and falling silver prices using these instruments – the further the market moves in the direction you’ve predicted, the more you’d profit and the more it moves against you, the greater your losses.
After gold, silver is the most frequently traded precious metal asset due to its use in electronics, tableware and jewellery. There is also strong demand from investors, who view silver as a much more affordable asset than gold.
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What is the gold-silver ratio?
The gold-silver ratio is used to asset the proportional relationship between the two precious metals at any given point in time. It measures how much silver is needed to buy an ounce of gold using spot prices. For example, if the ratio is 66, it means you’d need 66 ounces of silver to buy one ounce of gold.
The gold-silver ratio typically rises during bear markets and falls during bull markets. Gold becomes more expensive than silver in economic downturns, as although both are safe-haven assets, gold experiences significantly more attention than silver. Once the economy begins to recover, gold’s value falls back and trades nearer silver’s value again.
Gold has historically always been worth more than silver, but this relationship isn’t fixed. While the price of each metal is influenced by similar factors, this doesn’t mean their prices are correlated. If the gold-silver ratio fell below one, then silver would overtake gold as the most valuable precious metal.
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What moves the price of silver?
Silver’s price is determined by supply and demand – if demand for silver is higher than the levels of supply available, prices will rise and if the supply of silver outweighs demand, prices will fall. Silver prices are far more volatile than most other metals, so it’s important to be aware of the factors that impact the market. These include:
- Economic and political uncertainty: like gold, silver is used as a safe-haven investment in periods of market turmoil. Both precious metals are seen to retain their value while other asset classes decline. This means as inflation rates rise, silver becomes seen as a store of wealth over higher-risk assets
- Industrial uses: silver is highly conductive, anti-bacterial and extremely malleable, properties which all help create a steady industrial demand. Many of the applications of silver are resistant to economic decline – for example, batteries, water purification and dentistry are all considered essentials regardless of the business cycle
- The US dollar: as with most other commodities, silver is denominated in US dollars. This means any fluctuations in the price of the greenback can make silver more or less expensive to investors. For example, if the US dollar increases in value, silver would become more expensive to purchase in other currencies and so demand would fall
- The mining of other metals. Silver is rarely found in its elemental form but is instead combined with other substances such as sulphur, arsenic and galena – a lead ore. As a result, silver is most commonly discovered through the process of mining for other metals. So, any increase in demand for metals such as copper and lead can cause a rise in silver supply
How to trade silver
- Create a trading account
- Choose which underlying silver market you want to trade
- Open your first position
- Monitor your trade using technical and fundamental analysis
Whenever you trade silver, rather than buying the physical metal you’ll be using derivative products to speculate on the underlying market price. There are multiple ways to gain exposure to silver, including via futures and spot prices.
Futures contracts are the main way to trade silver. A futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell silver for a set price on a future date. While futures contracts can be used to take possession of the physical commodity, you don’t necessarily have to – futures contracts can be settled in cash.
Traders who hold their silver positions open to the expiry date will either settle their position or roll it over to the next delivery.
Silver futures are available to trade on exchanges across the world, most famously the COMEX exchange in the US. Futures contracts are standardised for quality and quantity – in the case of silver, a standard contract is worth 5000 troy ounces of silver.
Silver spot prices
Silver spot prices enable you to trade the current price of silver, at that exact moment in time or ‘on the spot’. This contrasts with futures, where you’d exchange at a specific price on a future date.