Gold will continue to attract funds as an alternative asset. The dollar seems likely to be defensive for a while, and the trend in oil remains positive.
The key factor in the first half of 1999 will be sluggish demand for industrial commodities. That will keep markets under wraps and make rallies short-lived.
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The shipping community wants to have some comfort that the transfer will be a seamless one and that Panamanian authorities have seized their responsibility to run the canal in a professional way.
It's the constant increases year after year after year that overwhelmed the market. You're looking at a market that might be capable of 350 or 360 (an ounce), and that has bottomed for some time.
The reality is that unrecorded inventories are huge. This is an old argument -- a bogus argument -- that has been presented for many years, but there is no long-term silver shortage.
Past history tells us that markets usually rally for the six weeks or so ahead of the launch and then ease with the actual launch. I do not think that will occur this time as silver is dragged up by gold and demand for industrial commodities in general.