Obviously, 2013 has not been kind to some of the most popular precious metals ETFs. The prime example is the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD), which has plunged 18% and tumbled from being the second-largest ETF by assets to the fourth spot.
Things have been far worse for ETFs backed by physical holdings of silver as the iShares Silver Trust (NYSEArca: SLV) and the ETFS Physical Silver Shares (NYSEArca: SIVR) have both shed about 28% year-to-date. [Silver ETFs Rebound to Test Key Trend Line]
Depending on how one looks at things, there might be some good news or upside ahead for SLV and SIVR. On Tuesday, J.P. Morgan issued a 2013 silver price forecast of $27.89 while Bank of America said its 2013 silver price forecast is an average of $24.35 per ounce, CNBC reported, citing a note from the bank.
Average those forecasts and the result is $26.12 an ounce, or almost 21% percent upside from where SLV closed last Friday. That sounds like good news.
Unfortunately for silver bulls, those price forecasts are significant reductions from previous calls issued by the banks. Bank of America’s prior silver forecast was an average of $32.70 per ounce for this year. J.P. Morgan previously expected silver to trade up to $30.01 an ounce. J.P. Morgan also lowered its 2013 gold and copper forecasts.
Problematic for silver and SLV is tepid industrial demand,which usually buoys about half of the market for the white metal.
“The visible underperformance of silver prices was, in our view, heavily influenced by a lack of industrial demand. This is perhaps best reflected in silver imports from the U.S. and Japan, generally hovering well below the longer-term average in the past 18 months. The picture has been similar in China year-to-date. While the country has remained a net importer, shipments have generally not broken out of the longer-term ranges,” said Bank of America metals strategist Michael Widmer in a report published Tuesday. [Gold ETFs Contribute to Bullion’s Price Slide]