The Silver Institute recently released an interim Silver Market Review, which is basically a mid-year update. It has some interesting highlights that I want to bring to your attention.
First, the Institute expects every key area of silver demand to rise in 2021, with record overall industrial demand despite supply chain challenges. Overall demand is expected to reach 1.029 billion ounces, surpassing the billion-ounce mark for the first time since 2015.
Industrial demand is expected to be strong, thanks to a post-pandemic recovery, reaching a new high of 524Moz. Solar, the single largest demand component, should be up 13% to a new high over 110Moz, underscoring silver’s importance in green energy. Electrical and electronics should be up 10%.
Impressively, they expect physical investment demand to be up by 32%, or 263Moz. That’s up by 64Moz, or 25.5% of overall demand. Strong buying is expected to be led by the U.S. and India, whose demand is expected to triple after falling dramatically last year. They also expect silver ETFs to see another 150Moz of net purchases, after last year’s stunning 331Moz. That will add up to a total 564Moz over the past three years. At Nov. 10th, global silver ETF holdings totaled a stunning 1.15 billion ozs., which is more than the annual supply of 1.029 billion ozs.
The annual average silver price rose 27% in 2020, and is up another 28% at Nov. 10th. The Institute sees low interest rates, concerns about soaring debts and rising inflation as key reasons for elevated silver buying leading to rising prices. And they expect the silver price to average $25.40 this year, the highest in levels in a decade.
Mined silver should be up a modest 6% this year to 829Moz, after last year’s weak output was dented by COVID-19 operating disruptions. Interestingly, this gain is almost exclusively due to a return to full production rates. Higher prices have led to improving profits for silver miners despite rising costs, with industry margins at their highest since 2012. In addition, rising base metals prices have pushed byproduct credits higher.
Silver jewelry and silverware should recover partially, up by 18% and 25% respectively, enjoying gains in all key countries, but especially India where the economy and sentiment have rebounded sooner than forecast. The Institute sees a modest physical deficit of 7Moz for 2021, the first in six years.
Here’s the updated Supply/Demand table from the report, with highlights from me.
In my view, the silver market looks very bullish from the fundamental supply/demand side. Despite the long consolidation phase, we’re still in since August 2020, I think silver is building a very strong base for a breakout next year. By all accounts, the Silver Stock Investor Portfolio is perfectly poised to benefit.
Peter Krauth is a former portfolio adviser and a 20-year veteran of the resource market, with special expertise in precious metals, mining and energy stocks. He is editor of two newsletters to help investors profit from metal market opportunities: Silver Stock Investor, www.silverstockinvestor.com and Gold Resource Investor, www.goldresourceinvestor.com. In those letters Peter writes about what he is buying and selling; he takes no pay from companies for coverage. Peter has contributed numerous articles to Kitco.com, BNN Bloomberg, the Financial Post, Seeking Alpha, Streetwise Reports, Investing.com, TalkMarkets and Barchart, and he holds a Master of Business Administration from McGill University.
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