September silver contracts were priced at $15.88 per ounce in afternoon trade in New York after earlier in the day trading just short of the $16 level. On Monday, silver futures dropped to the lowest level since April last year before rallying.
Silver is now up over 6% after hitting an intra-day low of $15.14 at the start of the week following a flash crash on Friday which was blamed on a software glitch.
Hedge funds or so-called managed money investors in silver futures have been exiting bullish positions at a rapid pace in recent weeks according to trader positioning data supplied by the government.
In a trading note Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank points out overall bullish positioning or net longs in silver held by derivatives traders have plummeted from a record high in April to a more than 18-month low last week.
But silver ETF investors are taking an entirely different view of the market. Silver ETF holdings have shot back up recently coming within shouting distance of record highs:
These tactical and often short-term developments in hedge funds' behaviour once again stand in sharp contrast to the behaviour of investors using exchange-traded products. Despite the recent price weakness, the total holdings in gold and silver ETPs have seen a steady increase — not least in silver where total holdings have returned to the record level reached last October.
What should also give silver price bulls hope is that despite recent weakness, the silver price managed to bounce off support levels and continue an uptrend in place since 2003.