Shiny metals are losing their luster. Traders have turned their backs on gold, silver, and platinum in recent months. It’s a somewhat surprising turn of events for the metals, which are normally considered haven assets. But the turmoil in emerging markets and escalating trade tensions between the US and China haven’t stoked demand for the precious metals.
While things have been bad for gold, as the US dollar usurps it as traders’ preferred haven, silver’s plight has been even more severe. Silver prices have tumbled 17% since the start of the year, falling to their lowest level since early 2016.
Though silver is considered a precious metal, it also has many industrial applications. The strong but malleable metal is used by the car industry and it’s needed for solar panels and engines, among many other things. Silver’s industrial uses make its price more susceptible to a slowdown in the global economy than gold. For that reason, for some traders, silver’s decline is an ominous economic signal (paywall).