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Please note: The Frank Talk articles listed below contain historical material. The data provided was current at the time of publication. For current information regarding any of the funds mentioned in these presentations, please visit the appropriate fund performance page.

We Believe Congress Is About to Give this Asset Class a Huge Promotion
October 5, 2016

Second Longest Streak of Muni Bond Fund Inflows on Record

It appears there’s no shortage of investor love for municipal bond funds. September 28 was the 52nd straight week of inflows into state and local government debt, marking the second longest streak on record, according to the Investment Company Institute (ICI). Year-to-date, munis have attracted more than $48 billion in new cash.

Second Longest Streak of Muni Bond Fund Inflows on Record
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Although I can’t say how long this rally will last, the drivers for the $3.7 trillion muni market remain the same now compared to a year ago: stock market volatility; a thirst for tax-free income and capital preservation; and a need for safety in a world beset by perceived threats, from geopolitical uncertainty in the European Union to the upcoming U.S. presidential election, the most divisive and controversial in modern history.

And it isn’t just American investors who favor munis. With government debt still yielding negative rates in Japan, Germany, Switzerland and elsewhere, foreign investors continue to add to their muni holdings, even though they’re ineligible to receive the securities’ U.S. tax benefit.

Global Bond Yields Still Underwater
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According to Bloomberg, foreign buyers held close to $90 billion in munis as of June 30, up from $74 billion during the same period in 2013.

Senators: Munis Are “High Quality Liquid Assets”

For these reasons and more, a group of U.S. senators introduced a bipartisan bill last week that would promote munis to the highest quality of assets.

The “high quality liquid assets” category currently includes cash, Treasuries and debt issued by government agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The new bill, if passed and turned into law, would elevate municipal debt to this easiest-to-trade group.

This would give banks more reserve options, as they’re required by law to hold enough highly liquid assets to last them at least 30 days in the event of an economic crisis.

A similar bill has already passed the House. The Senate bill is sponsored by Mike Rounds (R., S.D.), Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Mark Warner (D., Va.).

A Ringing Endorsement

I agree with the senators’ position on munis’ liquidity and comparative stability. In fact, it’s a wonder why this hasn’t happened before now. Moving munis into the “high liquidity” category would serve as sterling confirmation of what so many investors, from individuals to mutual funds to banks, already know about them.

Take our Near-Term Tax Free Fund (NEARX), which invests primarily in shorter term, high quality bonds. It’s delivered an incredible 21 straight years of positive returns, in various interest rate environments as well as equity bull markets and bear markets. According to Morningstar, out of more than 31,000 equity and bond mutual funds, only 39 have had positive returns every year during this time. NEARX is one of them.

Near-Germ Tax Free Fund Annual total Return
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What’s more, NEARX has edged out its benchmark, the Barclays 3-Year Municipal Bond Index, for the one-year, five-year and 10-year periods, as of August 31.

It’s unclear at the moment when the Senate bill might be put to a vote, but I’m hoping for a victory and that the president will sign it. When new details surface, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, be sure to visit our Near-Term Tax Free Fund page.

Please consider carefully a fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. For this and other important information, obtain a fund prospectus by visiting www.usfunds.com or by calling 1-800-US-FUNDS (1-800-873-8637). Read it carefully before investing. Foreside Fund Services, LLC, Distributor. U.S. Global Investors is the investment adviser.

Total Annualized Returns as of 12/31/2016
Fund One- Year Five-Year Ten-Year Gross
Expense
Ratio
Near-Term Tax Free Fund (NEARX) -0.45% 1.40% 2.69% 1.09%
Barclays 3-Year Municipal Bond Index 0.08% 1.13% 2.71% N/A

Expense ratios as stated in the most recent prospectus. The Adviser of the Near-Term Tax Free Fund has contractually limited, through April 30, 2017, the total fund operating expenses (exclusive of acquired fund fees and expenses, extraordinary expenses, taxes, brokerage commissions and interest) to not exceed 0.45%. Total annual expenses after the waiver of 0.64% were 0.45%.

Performance data quoted above is historical. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Results reflect the reinvestment of dividends and other earnings. For a portion of periods, the fund had expense limitations, without which returns would have been lower. Current performance may be higher or lower than the performance data quoted. The principal value and investment return of an investment will fluctuate so that your shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Performance does not include the effect of any direct fees described in the fund’s prospectus which, if applicable, would lower your total returns. Performance quoted for periods of one year or less is cumulative and not annualized. Obtain performance data current to the most recent month-end at www.usfunds.com or 1-800-US-FUNDS.

Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Bond funds are subject to interest-rate risk, as their value declines as interest rates rise. They are also subject to default risks, and information about financial problems that affect the bond’s issuer has not always been readily available to investors. The current market value of municipal bond may be hard to determine because many municipal bonds trade infrequently. A bond's market value may change for reasons having nothing to do with the financial condition of the issuer, such as a change in interest rates. Though the Near-Term Tax Free Fund seeks minimal fluctuations in share price, it is subject to the risk that the credit quality of a portfolio holding could decline, as well as risk related to changes in the economic conditions of a state, region or issuer. These risks could cause the fund’s share price to decline. Tax-exempt income is federal income tax free. A portion of this income may be subject to state and local taxes and at times the alternative minimum tax. The Near-Term Tax Free Fund may invest up to 20% of its assets in securities that pay taxable interest. Income or fund distributions attributable to capital gains are usually subject to both state and federal income taxes.

The Barclays 3-Year Municipal Bond Index is a total return benchmark designed for short-term municipal assets. The index includes bonds with a minimum credit rating BAA3, are issued as part of a deal of at least $50 million, have an amount outstanding of at least $5 million and have a maturity of 2 to 4 years.

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor.

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Did OPEC Just Cry Uncle?
October 3, 2016

Toronto

Last week I was in beautiful Toronto, where I presented the keynote address and participated in a panel discussion at the annual Mines and Money conference.  It was the first time the highly respected gathering of precious metals analysts and investors came to the Americas, and they couldn’t have chosen  a better city than my hometown. Toronto has long served as a major hub for mining finance and is home to some of the world’s largest gold producers.

Toronto is also one of the most multicultural municipalities on earth. According to its website, over 140 languages and dialects can be heard in the city, with a third of its population speaking a language other than English or French at home. This makes it an extremely attractive destination for professional millennials from all over the globe.

I had the pleasure of attending a Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) event in Toronto as well. The YPO is the world’s preeminent group for global business leaders and executives, providing peer-to-peer learning and networking opportunities among its 24,000 members. The companies they lead generate an impressive $6 trillion in global annual revenue. The daylong event, titled “Culture Shock,” focused on the societal effects of disruptive technology, including advanced robotics, 3D printing, the internet of things and more.

Frank Holmes accepting the award for Best Americas Based Fund Manager, presented by the Mining Journal

While at the Mines and Money conference, the Mining Journal presented its Outstanding Achievement Awards. I’m humbled to share with you that Ralph Aldis and I were co-recipients of the Best Americas Based Fund Manager award. It’s a great honor to have been selected from among such an esteemed group of portfolio managers.

The award symbolizes U.S. Global Investors’ strong commitment to its investors and shareholders. It’s my firm belief that we’ve consistently been a leader in the metals and mining space. I’m deeply proud of what we’ve managed to accomplish over the years, starting almost 30 years ago when I bought a controlling interest in the company. Since then, our funds have been recognized numerous times by Lipper and Morningstar, two trusted independent financial authorities.

OPEC Decision Helps Oil Post Its Second Straight Month of Gains

You’ve probably heard by now that, in an effort to lift oil prices, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) tentatively agreed to a production cut at its meeting in Algiers last week. The cartel, which controls more than a third of world output, plans to limit daily production to between 32.5 million barrels and 33 million barrels, down from 33.2 million barrels.

Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih pushed for product cuts

This comes more than two years since oil prices were kneecapped, wreaking havoc on several OPEC member nations’ economies. Saudi Arabia currently faces a steep budget deficit, as oil revenues make up close to 90 percent of the country’s budget. Meanwhile, Venezuela’s currency, the bolivar, has become so worthless that it’s now cheaper to use it as a napkin than to buy actual napkins. Airlines flying to the U.S. won’t even accept bolivars. (Of course, this has more to do with the government’s woeful mismanagement of the country than oil prices.)

It’s important for investors not to get too excited over OPEC’s decision. At the moment, none of this is set in stone. Some OPEC members are already wavering, with Iraq questioning output numbers and Nigeria moving to boost production.

Plus, American producers are likely to step into the void OPEC would create. Compared to last year, production is down only 535,000 barrels a day—and that’s with far fewer operating rigs. But it appears companies are eager to get back to work. In 12 of the last 13 weeks, North American drillers reactivated mothballed rigs. I expect to see the pace rise as it becomes clearer OPEC will make good on its resolution.

American Oil Producers Are REactivating Rigs
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Consolidation Could Ease the Pain

For the past two years, OPEC’s pump-at-will policies have flooded the market with cheap supply, causing economic pain for producers with higher cash costs, including those involved in fracking, the Canadian oil sands and deepwater drilling.

Since January 2015, more than 100 U.S. and Canadian producers have declared bankruptcy, representing a combined $67 billion in debt, according to Dallas law firm Haynes and Boone.

Number of North American Oil and Gas Bankruptcy Filings Exceeds 100
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To weather the low-price environment, global exploration spending has been slashed for two consecutive years. As Bloomberg reports, total investment in world oilfields stands at $450 billion, a significant 24 percent decline from last year. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects the cost-cutting to extend into next year.

This has driven new oil discoveries to their lowest point since 1947.

It also underscores the need for industry consolidation. With exploration budgets down, major oil companies will rely on acquisitions to replace up to half of their reserves, according to energy consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie. When the airline industry was mired in bankruptcies a decade ago, we saw a huge wave of mergers and acquisitions, and we should expect to see the same in the oil patch.

A few big oil and gas deals have come out of the price rout—Royal Dutch Shell’s acquisition of BG, worth $70 billion, is the largest by far—but more will likely take place in the near term. Antitrust officials prevented energy giants Halliburton and Baker Hughes from realizing their $35 billion deal, announced back in November 2014.

America’s Gas Binge Hits a New Record

Oil inventories might be brimming all over the globe, but demand remains strong and expected to swell alongside the global middle class. As I told you in June, India is expected to have the fastest growing demand for crude between now and 2040, replacing China. 

But don’t count the U.S. out. Even with fuel efficiency improving in automobiles, Americans burned through a massive 406 million gallons a day in June, the most recent month of data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This sets a new record, beating the previous one set in July 2007, soon before the recession. The record might be short-lived, however, once the July and August data are released.

Americans Drove to REcord Gasoline Consumption in June
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Low prices have emboldened many Americans to purchase vehicles with lower fuel efficiency such as trucks, vans and SUVs, which has been great for auto companies and lenders.

People are also taking longer road trips. According to the Transportation Department, motorists logged 287.5 billion miles in July, the most ever for the busy summer travel month. That’s the equivalent of taking 3,000 round trips to the sun, which is what it feels like after all the flights I’ve taken recently.

 

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

Holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. None of the securities mentioned in the article were held by any accounts managed by U.S. Global Investors as of 6/30/2016.

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How Gold Came to South Korea’s Rescue
September 27, 2016

A busy street in Seoul, filled with shoppers.

Nineteen years ago, South Korea came precipitously close to bankruptcy.

The Asian financial crisis had spread like a virus. Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries were all affected, inciting fears of a global economic meltdown if the crisis couldn’t be contained.

Before 1997, South Korea had been held up as a textbook example of economic reversal and resilience.

Once a poor colony, the country underwent an unbelievably rapid transformation in the second half of the 20th century, propelled by smart policy reforms and heavy investment in education. Many called it the “Miracle on the Han River.” By the end of the century, Korea had grown to become the world’s 11th largest economy. Residents had the incomes to enjoy comfortable, “Western” lifestyles.

But in the summer of ‘97, the bug arrived in Seoul. Businesses began to fail. Left with nonperforming loans, banks collapsed, while others discontinued fresh lending. The won was in freefall. Liquidity dried up. Foreign investors yanked nearly $18 billion out of the country. Hundreds of thousands lost their jobs.

Korea’s only recourse was to seek help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and in December, the lender approved a gargantuan $58 billion bailout package, the largest in history. The deal required Korea to liberalize trade and its capital accounts, reform its labor market, restructure corporate governance and more.

A new crisis emerged, then, which native Koreans still refer to as the “IMF Crisis.”

The government wasted no time in raising the funds to pay back the loan, and on January 5, 1998, a national campaign was launched that today stands as one of the most moving shows of patriotism and self-sacrifice the world has ever known.

In Times of Economic Crisis, People Have Turned to Gold
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The Drive for Gold

At the time, it was estimated that South Korean households held roughly $20 billion in gold, in the form of necklaces, coins, bars, trinkets, statuettes, medals, pendants, military insignias and more. Most of it carried strong personal and familial significance, far beyond its monetary value.

Gold, after all, has typically played an auspicious role in Koreans’ personal milestones. Many families celebrate an infant’s first birthday in a tradition known as doljanchi, during which gifts of 24-karat gold rings are customary. Gold jewelry and watches are routinely given to newlyweds, as we also see in India, Turkey and elsewhere. Companies often award retirees with gold keychains.

This is the Love Trade I speak so frequently about, responsible for driving a huge percentage of the demand and price of gold. In many parts of the world, gold jewelry is more than just beautiful ornamentation—it’s also prized as an important form of financial security.

In Times of Economic Crisis, People Have Turned to GoldKoreans know this all too well. Ninety years earlier, in 1907, the Korean Empire owed Japan 13 million won, equivalent to an entire year’s budget. To help pay it off, men quit smoking while women sold their cherished wedding jewelry.

Gold again came to Korea’s aid in 1998.

Nearly 3.5 million people, almost a quarter of the entire country’s population, voluntarily participated in the campaign. Queues of people—young and old, rich and poor—stretched for blocks outside special donation points, all of them answering the call to help their country. Yellow ribbons proclaiming “Let’s overcome the foreign currency crisis by collecting gold” could be found pinned to people’s shirts.

Big-name Korean corporations, from Samsung to Hyundai to Daewoo, lent their marketing strength to help spread the word, as did celebrities. Lee Jong-beom, a hot young baseball star, drew national attention when he brought in 31.5 ounces of gold, valued at over $9,000, all in the form of trophies and medals he had acquired over his five-year career.

On average, each person donated 65 grams of the yellow metal, or a little over $640 based on prices at the time.

In the Associated Press video below, you can see the various types of items Koreans donated. Please note that the video is Korean, so I can’t attest to what’s being said.

In as little as two months, 226 metric tons, valued at $2.2 billion, were collected, every last scrap of which was melted into ingots and promptly delivered to the IMF.

Although this amount was just a drop in the bucket, the gold collecting campaign served as an important rallying point early on in South Korea’s effort to tackle its debt, not to mention the fact that it demonstrated the deep patriotism and unity of its people. The Love Trade helped the country pay back the $58 billion loan in full by August 2001—nearly three years ahead of schedule.

Gold Recycling up 10 Percent

Korea’s is arguably the best known example of gold recycling, which the World Gold Council defines as gold that is “sold for cash by consumers or other supply-chain players,” including countries.

Of course, it’s not the only example.

Although central banks as a whole have been net buyers of the precious metal since 2010, Venezuela is in liquidation mode, having sold off most of its gold reserves since March 2015 in an effort to offset low oil prices and to pay down debts. Good thing the socialist country had gold to fall back on, as bolivar notes are now so worthless, some Venezuelans have found that it’s cheaper to use the bills as napkins than to buy actual napkins.

Because the precious metal is virtually indestructible, all gold ever mined is still available in some form or another, making recycling an important part of  supply. The rate of recycling has tended to ramp up during times of economic crises, or when gold prices in a country’s currency accelerate. Look at how recycling in the U.S. has correlated to prices.  

Infrastructure Spending Evolves Regions Economic Growth
click to enlarge

With gold having posted its best first half of the year since 1974 and on track for its best full year since 2010, more people are taking their old coins and rings to the pawn shop. In the first six months, the rate of recycling was up 10 percent compared to the same period in 2015, as Bloomberg reports.

 

LEARN WHAT ELSE IS DRIVING GOLD

 

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

Holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. None of the securities mentioned in the article was held by any accounts managed by U.S. Global Investors as of 6/30/2016.

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The Case for Natural Resource Equities
September 26, 2016

The Case for Natural Resource Equities

Last week I attended the Denver Gold Forum along with three other U.S. Global Investors representatives, including our resident precious metals expert Ralph Aldis. I was happy to see sentiment for gold way up compared to last year’s convention, as was turnout. I was also pleased to see Franco-Nevada, Silver Wheaton and Royal Gold in attendance, all of which I’ve written extensively about.

One of the most interesting presentations was held by Northern Star Resources—the third biggest listed gold producer in Australia, a dividend payer and a longtime holding of USGI. I’ve always appreciated Northern Star’s insistence on being a business first, a mining company second. This shareholder-friendly mantra is reflected in its stellar performance.

Compared to other companies in the NYSE ARCA Gold Miners Index (GDM), Northern Star is a sector leader in a number of factors, including five-year cash flow return on invested capital. Whereas the sector average is negative 1.6 percent over this period, Northern Star’s is a whopping 27 percent, the most of any other mining company in the GDM.

This has helped it return an amazing 800 percent over the last five years as of September 23. Compare that to the GDM, which returned negative 56 percent over the same period.

Australian gold miners as a whole trade at an impressive discount to North American producers, 5.7 times earnings versus 8.3 times earnings, according to Perth-based Doray Minerals.

Top Performing Australian Gold Producers Based Relative Valuations
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Screening for high cash flow returns on invested capital, as you can see, helps give us a competitive advantage and uncovers hidden gems such as Northern Star and others.

Resource Equities Offer Attractive Diversification Benefits

A recent whitepaper published by investment strategist firm GMO makes a very convincing case for natural resource equities. I urge you to check out the entire piece when you have the time, but there are a few salient points I want to share with you here.

In the opinion of Lucas White and Jeremy Grantham, the paper’s authors, “prices of many commodities will rise in the decades to come due to growing demand and the finite supply of cheap resources,” presenting an attractive investment opportunity. Over the long-term, resource stocks have traded at a discount and outperformed their underlining metals and energy by a wide margin.

According to White and Grantham, a portfolio composed of 50 percent energy and metals, 50 percent all other equities, had a standard deviation that’s 35 percent lower than the S&P 500 Index. What’s more, the returns of such a portfolio outperformed those of the S&P 500, resulting in a risk-adjusted return that’s 50 percent higher than that of the broader market.

Long Term Diversification Benefits Resource Stocks
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Resource equities have also historically shown a low to negative correlation to the broader market, which might appeal to bears. The reason? When metals and energy have risen in price, it’s been a drag on the economy. The reverse has also been true: Low prices have been a boon to the economy.

The thing is, general equities currently do not give investors enough exposure to natural resources. The weight of energy and metals in the S&P 500 has been halved in the last few years as oil and other materials have declined. Considering the diversification benefits, investors should consider a greater allocation to the sector.

Timing Is Key

There’s mounting evidence that now might be an opportune time to get back into resource stocks. Following the sharpest decline in crude oil prices in at least a century, as well as a six-year bear market in metals, the global environment could be ripe for a commodity rebound. From its January trough, the Bloomberg Commodity Index has rallied 17 percent, suggesting commodities might be seeking a path to a bull market.

During the down-cycle, many companies managed to bring costs lower, upgrade their asset portfolios and repair their balance sheets. As a result, many of them are now free cash flow positive and are in a much better positon to deliver on the bottom line when commodity prices increase.

I’ve often written about the imbalance between monetary and fiscal policies. My expectation is that unprecedented, expansionary global monetary policy will be followed by fiscal expansion. Consider this: Total assets of major central banks—including those in the U.S., European Union, Japan and China—have skyrocketed to $17.6 trillion dollars as of August 2016, up from $6.3 trillion in 2008.

Total Assets Major Central Banks
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This expansion is expected to result in significant inflation gains over the next decade, an environment in which natural resource stocks have historically outperformed the broader market.

Infrastructure Spending About to Increase?

China largely drove the global infrastructure build out over the past decade as rapid economic growth and rising incomes increased the demand for “advanced” and “quality of life” infrastructure. This resulted in a breathtaking commodities bull market.

Infrastructure Spending Evolves Regions Economic Growth
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Now, other advanced countries, the U.S. especially, are readying to sustain the next cycle to repair its aging and uncompetitive infrastructure.

As you can see, most major economies dramatically cut infrastructure spending after the financial crisis, indicating it might be time to put some of that $17.6 trillion to good use.

Time Major Economies Boost Public Infrastructure Spending
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According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the U.S. is presently facing a funding gap of $1.7 trillion on roads, bridges and transit alone—to say nothing of electricity, schools, airports and other needs. Meanwhile, state and local infrastructure spending is at a 30-year low.

If this financing can’t be raised, says the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), each American household could lose an estimated $3,400 per year. Inefficient roadways and congested airports lead to longer travel times, and goods become more expensive to produce and transport.

Let’s look just at national bridges. After an assessment of bridges last year, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) found that 58,495, or 10 percent of all bridges in the U.S., are “structurally deficient.” To bring all bridges up to satisfactory levels, the U.S. would currently need to spend more than $106 billion, which is six times what was spent nationwide on such projects in 2010.

Infrastructure backbone US economy

Fortunately, both U.S. presidential candidates have pledged to boost infrastructure spending—one of the few things they share with one another. Hillary Clinton says she will spend $275 billion over a five-year period, while Donald Trump says he’ll spend “double” that.

Trump’s central campaign promise, as you know, is to build a “big, beautiful, powerful wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border, which analysts at investment firm Bernstein estimate could cost anywhere between $15 billion and $25 billion, requiring 7 million cubic metres of concrete and 2.4 million tonnes of cement, among other materials.

As I like to say, government policy is a precursor to change. I’ll be listening closely for further details on Trump and Clinton’s infrastructure plans this coming Monday during the candidates’ first debate. I hope you’ll watch it too! Media experts are already predicting Super Bowl-sized audiences.

Don’t Count China Out

In the past year, a lot of ink has been devoted to China’s slowdown after its phenomenal spending boom over the last decade, but there are signs that spending is perking up—a tailwind for resources. According to the Wall Street Journal, Chinese economic activity rebounded in August, driven by government spending on infrastructure and rising property taxes.

“In the first seven months of 2016,” the WSJ writes, “China invested 962.8 billion yuan ($144.1 billion) in roads and waterways, an 8.2 percent increase from the previous year.”

The Asian giant still accounts for a large percentage of global trade in important resources such as iron ore, aluminum, copper and coal. This is why we closely monitor the country’s purchasing manager’s index (PMI), which, according to our own research, has been a reliable indicator of commodity price performance three and six months out.

 

EXPLORE INVESTING OPPORTUNITIES IN NATURAL RESOURCES

 

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

Cash Flow Return on Invested Capital (CFROIC) is defined as consolidated cash flow from operating activities minus capital expenditures, the difference of which is divided by the difference between total assets and non-interest bearing current liabilities. 

The Purchasing Manager’s Index is an indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing sector. The PMI index is based on five major indicators: new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and the employment environment.

The NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index is a modified market capitalization weighted index comprised of publicly traded companies involved primarily in the mining for gold and silver.  The index benchmark value was 500.0 at the close of trading on December 20, 2002. The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies. The Bloomberg Commodity Index is made up of 22 exchange-traded futures on physical commodities. The index represents 20 commodities, which are weighted to account for economic significance and market liquidity.

Standard deviation is a measure of the dispersion of a set of data from its mean. The more spread apart the data, the higher the deviation. Standard deviation is also known as historical volatility.

There is no guarantee that the issuers of any securities will declare dividends in the future or that, if declared, will remain at current levels or increase over time.

Holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. The following securities mentioned in the article were held by one or more accounts managed by U.S. Global Investors as of 6/30/2016: Franco-Nevada Corp., Silver Wheaton Corp., Royal Gold Inc., Northern Star Resources Ltd., Doray Minerals Ltd., Saracen Minerals Holdings Ltd., Evolution Mining Ltd., St. Barbara Ltd.

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Welcoming the New Addition to the S&P 500: Real Estate
September 20, 2016

Welcoming the New Addition to the S&P 500: Real Estate

In case you haven’t noticed, the S&P 500 Index is looking a little different these days. Once a subindustry of the financials sector, real estate now has its own zip code in the universe of blue chip stocks. It’s the first time since 1999 that such a change has been made to the S&P’s composition.

The new sector has a weighting of nearly 3 percent, all of it taken out of financials.

An Then There Were 11
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As I told CNBC Asia’s Bernie Lo recently, I think real estate’s promotion will attract more institutional and individual investors to the space. It tells them this is no longer a niche market but one with a distinct and significant presence, with its own unique business drivers.

This has been a long time coming, to be perfectly honest. Ever since the housing and financial crisis, real estate investment trusts (REITs) have been pulling in some serious cash as more become available for trading on the New York Stock Exchange and elsewhere. Altogether, REITs currently have a market cap of over $1 trillion, according to REIT.com.


click to enlarge

With investors on the hunt for yield, it’s not hard to see why. As of August 31, the FTSE NAREIT All Equity REITs Index yielded an average of 3.61 percent, compared to the S&P 500’s 2.11 percent. During 2015, stock exchange-listed REITs paid out a whopping $46.5 billion in dividends.

U.S. Equity REITs continue to climb since the housing crisis
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Builders Rush to Meet Demand

Looking just at the residential housing market, business is definitely booming. With 30-year mortgage rates at below 3.5 percent, the market is scorching hot in many parts of the U.S.—so much so, some builders are reporting a shortage in construction workers to meet demand.

Banks Lending Historic Sums of Cash to Real Estate Projects
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New construction starts rose to 1.2 million in July, beating analysts’ forecasts and suggesting the U.S. housing market appears to have finally made a full recovery eight years following the recession, with Bloomberg calling this the “strongest home sales since the start of the economic expansion.”

…But Homeownership Is Falling

Trouble could be brewing, however. As I shared with you last month, millennials just aren’t buying homes at the same rate we’ve historically seen from 18- to 34-year-olds. There are many theories as to why this is, from millennials delaying starting families to focus on careers, to a loss of trust in homeownership as a reliable investment or even as an institution, to a preference to rent. This trend has contributed to the lowest U.S. homeownership rate in five decades.

But how can this be? How could there be both massive housing demand and yet declining homeownership?

One answer might lie in population growth. Simply put, there are more of us living in the U.S. than ever before, which translates into more renting and more buying. And with single-person households on the rise every year, a need for additional housing units has become a priority. Whereas one unit would have served a married couple only a few years ago, now two are needed.

Whether you believe this or not, it seems reasonable to expect the new real estate sector to attract assets to the space, as more mutual funds will add to their exposure to better reflect the S&P 500. If anything, it will help investors monitor and track this important segment of the market.

 

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There is no guarantee that the issuers of any securities will declare dividends in the future or that, if declared, will remain at current levels or increase over time.

The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies. The FTSE NAREIT All Equity REITs Index is a free-float adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index of U.S. Equity REITs. Constituents of the Index include all tax-qualified REITs with more than 50 percent of total assets in qualifying real estate assets other than mortgages secured by real property.

Investing in real estate securities involves risks including the potential loss of principal resulting from changes in property value, interest rates, taxes and changes in regulatory requirements.

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Net Asset Value
as of 03/23/2017

Global Resources Fund PSPFX $5.45 -0.03 Gold and Precious Metals Fund USERX $7.74 -0.16 World Precious Minerals Fund UNWPX $6.79 -0.08 China Region Fund USCOX $8.52 0.04 Emerging Europe Fund EUROX $6.15 0.01 All American Equity Fund GBTFX $24.37 -0.04 Holmes Macro Trends Fund MEGAX $18.92 -0.01 Near-Term Tax Free Fund NEARX $2.22 No Change U.S. Government Securities Ultra-Short Bond Fund UGSDX $2.00 No Change