The story is significantly different for gold and silver mining companies. Rising mining costs and low prices have plagued the miners for more than two years, and share prices have dropped by 50% to 75% over that time for the firms we are looking at now. The question is whether the bleeding will continue at its current pace or it will slow down next year. It is difficult to find anyone who believes in a turnaround.
What will help the miners? Higher prices, but forecasts for gold and silver prices remain more or less within a range of 10% to 15% on either side of where prices are today. For the miners that almost certainly means more cost reductions. A side effect of the drop in oil prices is that fuel costs for miners will fall, and that is a good thing, but a stronger dollar does not help.
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The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) will announce its policy rate decision Wednesday afternoon, and while no one expects an interest rate hike, investors are looking for some hint that interest rates will rise, even if only a tiny bit, earlier rather than later next year. An interest rate hike would normally weigh on precious metals prices, at least in the short term. That would delay any recovery into late next year or even early 2016.
Demand for gold jewelry accounts for about 55% of global gold demand, with China and India the leading markets. Economic growth in the developed economies in 2015 is expected to increase by 2.3%, up from 1.8% in 2014, and that may boost demand for gold.
The drop in pump prices for gasoline is putting more cash in consumers’ pockets, and that is putting some air under jewelry retailers in the United States. Shares of Signet Jewelers Ltd. (NYSE: SIG) are up more than 80% since late June and Tiffany Inc. (NYSE: TIF) stock is up more than 35%.
The not-so-good news may be that demand is also being driven by lower prices. Realized prices are down by around 11% for gold in the first three-quarters of 2014. Without an increase to the prices they receive for their precious metals, miners will struggle to grow.
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Here is a look at what 2015 may have in store for three top gold miners, one silver miner and one silver streaming company.
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