Gold, Silver & Oil Stocks Doing Great, but Dow Jones Transportation Average Starting to Wobble

There is virtual glee in the resource sector these days. Precious metal prices are trading near records. Oil prices are going up. The only commodity that’s holding back what might be argued as the entire resource sector is natural gas. That means it’s a good time to start looking in this area for some attractive investment opportunities.

Investing in gold and gold-related securities continues to be a good strategy in my view. It’s where the action is for speculative investors, particularly in junior miners that are making discoveries and growing production. Times are great if you’re mining for gold and silver and, because the price backdrop is so favorable, capital is easily available from investment banks, so miners are spending big-time on drilling for new deposits. It is, without question, a wonderful time to be in this business. Money is flowing out of the ground.

Speaking of cash flow, the oil business is also experiencing a major resurgence, with WTI spot prices over $100.00 a barrel. Similar to the gold mining business, both large- and micro-cap stocks of oil producers are turning higher. In recent history, the broader stock market would go up along with a higher spot price for oil. This was a sign that sentiment about the global economy was getting better. Now, of course, oil is trading on both geopolitical news and supply/demand data.

I’ve always advocated in this column that a long-term equity portfolio has to have some exposure to oil. Stock picking in this sector can be difficult, and that’s why a lot of investors go with a large integrated producer. Like silver and copper, investing in oil is one of the best plays you can make in a global economy that’s accelerating. Just take a look at ConocoPhillips’ (NYSE/COP) stock chart. And, thanks to developing economies that are growing at a much faster rate than developed nations, upward pressure on oil prices is here to stay for the near future.

But I also want to communicate that there’s no rush for investors to be taking a lot of new action in this market. As we all know, share prices have already gone up tremendously. The good news with that is the market’s valuation; it isn’t stretched. But it’s still a bear market rally as far as I’m concerned and, just like we saw last August, investor sentiment can change on a dime.

I still think investors should be looking to the Dow Jones Transportation Average in order to hone their near-term market view. This leading index broke down somewhat in mid-January. It recovered smartly in the first half of February, but is looking to me like it’s breaking down again, not just because of higher oil prices. I don’t think this means that a medium-term, upward price trend in stocks isn’t intact, only that the market is increasingly likely to take a
well-deserved break in the near future.