Indian retailers have said silver's current price in the international markets doesn't necessarily reflects its potential
As the week comes to an end, Comex December silver prices are trading at $32.45, a slight decline from yesterday. For the week, prices are off about 1%.
Recent economic data and concerning news from abroad have hit precious metals last week, leading to their declines.
Gold has been stealing headlines as fear surrounding the fiscal cliff drives investors to seek safer assets. Should Congress and the President not reach an agreement by early next year, this will provide an opportunity for gold to shine.
But the white metal, with its volatility and recent high prices, can hold its own and also has the potential to increase in the short-term due to a few reasons.
Catalysts driving higher silver prices
First, there's India, which is in the thick of its wedding and festival season.
Gold is king there, especially in November. But, due to its current high prices and the Indian government's regulations on purchasing gold and tax deductions, buyers are going to silver this year.
Manish Mehta, of bullion retailer D P Zaveri and Sons, said to Mineweb, "Silver has proved to be the preferred substitute with most retail buyers this Diwali. Customers came in asking for silver coins, corporate gifting products, small utensils to be used at home and for silver items to conduct puja (the ceremony for prayers)."
Along with purchasing silver for the festival, Indian buyers also view the white metal as an investment.
Mehta added, "Last year, the price of silver had gone up steeply around the festival time and people were not too confident about investing. This year, the price has remained more or less steady throughout giving people fresh momentum.''
In 2011 silver hit an average $35.22 per ounce price, twice the average 2009 price of $14.66 per ounce. It reached $50 per ounce on April 28, 2011, but Indian retailers have said silver's current price in the international markets ($32.67 an ounce as of Thursday morning), doesn't necessarily reflects its potential.
On Thursday, silver futures prices increased 0.58% to $1,115.91 (Rs 61,159) per kilo in the Mumbai marketplace, while MCE December silver futures rose 0.58% and March futures traded higher to 0.49%.
Analysts have seen greater buying by speculators with a global trend for higher silver futures prices, reported Mineweb.
Back in the U.S. silver marketplace, the CME Group decreased margins on silver futures contracts in an effort to spur trading interest.
On Thursday, maintenance margins had been cut to $11,000 per contract, down from $12,500 and initial margins had decreased to $12,100 from $16,875.
Latest silver price forecast
On the same day, Thomson Reuters GFMS released The Silver Institute - 2012 Interim Report, which has silver prices projected to increase 38% next year from current prices as the slow global economy increases the demand for this safe haven.
Philip Klapwijk, Executive Chairman of GFMS, said in the report that "a rebound in investment demand stemming from continuing loose monetary policies is expected to drive silver prices towards and possibly over $50 during 2013."
This year spot silver has increased 17%, surpassing gold's 10% rise. This represents the metal's third annual rise in four years.
Klapwijik added that "strong investment demand, higher gold prices on the back of monetary easing, rising inflation expectations and the persistence of ultra-low interest rates," are some of the reasons buyers will go to silver.
He added, "We are thinking prices will trend higher next year. I'm not convinced that we are going to $50. I think we will definitely see $40 to $45 prices."
China is also adding to silver's price rise, with Klapwijk noting that "jewelry demand is growing at a double digit pace" there.
For the remainder of the year, he predicts silver prices will trade between $30.90 and a high of $36.