A social media-driven buying spree lifted silver to an eight-year high on Monday, though prices later pared gains on doubts about the ability of retail traders that have been focused on stocks to sway prices in the bigger, more liquid commodity.
Silver prices climbed to an eight-year peak of just over $30 an ounce before cooling off a little to trade up 6.3 percent at $28.70.
At the same time, video game retailer GameStop Corp, at the center of last week’s “Reddit rally,” slid 30.8 percent to $225, but other shares caught up in the frenzy that has battered short-sellers extended their advance, including BlackBerry Ltd.
A lot of people who were anticipating a GameStop-like rally in silver “now realize there is not as much buying pressure pushing it up like some had thought,” said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors.
It was not clear how long the Reddit-fueled rally in stocks shorted by hedge funds would last. It could mean more losses in the wider market this week if funds have to keep selling to meet redemptions or right their portfolios. Longer-term, they may have to shift strategies.
The showdown has drawn scrutiny from financial regulators, lawmakers and the White House, concerned about possible market manipulation.
The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee said on Monday it will hold a hearing on recent market volatility on Feb. 18. Politico, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that Robinhood Chief Executive Vlad Tenev was expected to testify on Capitol Hill on that day.
Robinhood raised another $2.4 billion from shareholders just days after existing investors pumped in $1 billion, it said in a blog post. The company, which faced anger last week for curbing the purchase of some stocks, raised trading limits on GameStop, AMC, Koss Corp and Express Inc.
The firm is preparing for an initial public offering but it was not clear if it will push forward with those plans.
Traders and analysts poured cold water on the chances of a prolonged rally in silver, saying unlike in GameStop, there is no excessive short positioning and that the options market is fairly well balanced.
Speculative financial investors were already positioned fairly bullishly, dealers said. Net long positions in COMEX Silver futures and options rose to about 44,320 lots as of Jan. 26, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) showed.
“Unlike single stocks, the market for silver is much larger and more complex and therefore more difficult to manipulate,” said Raffi Boyadjian, senior investment analyst at XM, in a note.
The silver furore began on Thursday after posts on the popular Reddit online forum WallStreetBets urged investors to buy physical silver.
“Get out there and buy at least 4 ounces of silver as soon as you can,” one forum participant posted.
Retail traders poured a record A$40 million ($30.6 million) into Australian ETF Securities’ Physical Silver fund by the afternoon. A silver ETF in Japan surged 11 percent.
Other investors expressed concerns on WallStreetBets on Monday that silver was undercutting their focus.
“By buying silver … you would be directly putting money into the pockets of the EXACT HEDGE FUNDS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF $GME,” wrote one user who urged investors to continue to buy GameStop.