Following spot gold prices higher Thursday, gold miners exchange traded funds soared. The VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDX), the largest exchange traded fund dedicated to gold mining stocks, was among the leaders of that rally, climbing above its 20- and 50-day moving averages for the first time in months.

While gold miners remain among this year’s most punished asset classes, a slew of fundamental factors support more upside for the group. Those factors include rock-bottom valuations and the potential for increased mergers and acquisitions activity following last month’s news that Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: ABX) will acquire Randgold Resources Ltd. (NYSE: GOLD).

Importantly, there is not a major premium involved in Barrick’s $6 billion deal for Randgold, indicating acquisitive miners are serious about keeping balance sheets strong.

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