What Happens When Silver is Oversold?

Few assets in markets generate as much love and hate as Silver. There’s not a day that goes by without a multitude of extreme predictions on where the metallic element is going. After Silver has had a sharp rally or sell-off, these predictions only intensify as emotions run wild.

We are in one of those periods today.

Silver is currently “oversold.” One way of measuring that is the 14-period RSI (a technical indicator that can range from 0 to 100, where 0 is maximum oversold and 100 is maximum overbought), currently at 25.67. Going back to 1970, this reading is lower than 98.7% of daily readings. So that’s pretty extreme in a historical context.

Silver is currently oversold graph1

The Silver ETF (SLV) has declined for 12 consecutive days, the longest streak in its history (inception: 2006).

Silver ETF (SLV) chart2

Naturally, the Silver Bulls are out in force saying the oversold condition is a compelling “buying opportunity” while the Silver Bears are pointing to the recent weakness as yet another reason to sell.

Removing emotion from the equation, what does Silver being oversold actually tell us – if anything — about future returns?

As it turns out, not that much. Both Silver Bulls and Silver Bears are likely to be disappointed by the data.

Looking at the lowest 5% of RSI readings in Silver since 1970, forward returns are slightly above average in the following week but below average in the following 1-month through 12-month time periods. When Silver is extremely oversold, it has gained an average of 4.7% over the next year versus an 11.4% average gain in all periods.

Average forward silver returns chart3

So there is little evidence to suggest one should expect abnormal strength in Silver from an oversold condition and little evidence to suggest one should expect continued weakness (a negative return).

In looking at the percentage of positive returns, they are slightly higher than average from 1-week through 6-months but below average from 9 months through 12 months out. Again, nothing particularly enlightening here. Buying Silver and holding it for less than a year appears to be a coin flip (albeit with a positive expectancy) in most periods and buying it when it is oversold doesn’t seem change that fact.

Average forward silver positive chart4

Historically, buying Silver when it’s extremely oversold and in a downtrend (below its 200-day moving average, as it is today) seems to lead to even lower average forward returns. This contrasted with oversold conditions in an uptrend which in the past have been followed by strength in the subsequent 3-6 month period.

Avg forward silver returns of 1970 to 2017 chart5

All of this may be interesting but you still want to know: where is Silver going from here?

I have no idea and neither does anyone else. All we have is historical data, probabilities, and a range of possible outcomes. The above tables are merely average returns and do not provide any certainty as to what will actually happen. Silver could bounce from here or it could continue to fall; we should not be particularly surprised by either outcome. That’s not an answer suitable for TV punditry but if you’ve read this far you likely value evidence over opinion.


Related Posts:

Optical Illusions

What Happens When Gold is Oversold?

Overbought, Oversold and the Great Paradox in Markets

Dead Cat Bounces and Armchair Contrarians

Interesting vs. Actionable

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This writing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell, a solicitation to buy, or a recommendation regarding any securities transaction, or as an offer to provide advisory or other services by Pension Partners, LLC in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation, purchase or sale would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction. The information contained in this writing should not be construed as financial or investment advice on any subject matter. Pension Partners, LLC expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken based on any or all of the information on this writing.



Charlie Bilello is the Director of Research at Pension Partners, LLC, an investment advisor that manages mutual funds and separate accounts.  He is the co-author of four award-winning research papers on market anomalies and investing. Mr. Bilello is responsible for strategy development, investment research and communicating the firm’s investment themes and portfolio positioning to clients. Prior to joining Pension Partners, he was the Managing Member of Momentum Global Advisors and previously held positions as a Credit, Equity and Hedge Fund Analyst at billion dollar alternative investment firms.

Mr. Bilello holds a J.D. and M.B.A. in Finance and Accounting from Fordham University and a B.A. in Economics from Binghamton University. He is a Chartered Market Technician (CMT) and a Member of the Market Technicians Association. Mr. Bilello also holds the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate.

You can follow Charlie on twitter here.


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