Investors often look to gold and gold mining plays in times of bad economic news, and Jan 10 was no exception.
On Friday the US Labor Department issued its December jobs report that showed while unemployment was down jobs were less than half of what had been expected. This slowdown indicates the overall economy is not growing as fast as analysts had hoped. While unemployment is down, this is actually a bad sign: it means less people are even looking for jobs, and thus the domestic labor force is shrinking.
Previous job growth of 241,000 jobs in November certainly bolstered the argument that the economy was on the fast track to recovery, and the upcoming QE tapering was an acceptable decision. As investors question the wisdom in that decision, investors poured money into gold mining ETFs, possibly expecting a rush back to the yellow metal in uncertain times.
Gold mining stocks and gold mining ETFs have been some of the hardest hit investments on the market, with popular leveraged plays like Direxion Daily Gold Miner Bulls 3X ETF ($NUGT) shedding over 90 percent of its value over the last year. However, this has not stopped institutional interest in NUGT and its ilk, with assets in gold mining assets ratcheting up considerably over December.
Institutional interest and the bad economic data combined to spur a rush to gold miners, causing gold mining ETFs to become the day’s best performers.
NUGT was a big winner on Jan 10, gaining 10.52 percent to hit $30.79 a share. The leveraged fund Direxion Dailyt Jr. Gold Miners Bull 3x ETF ($JNUG) gained 12.13 percent to hit $17.65. The popular Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF ($GDX) gained 3.57 percent to hit $22.03 a share.
Gold spiked concomitantly with minign companies. The yellow metal touched $1,246 an ounce by midday, an uptick of 1.55 percent.