NEW YORK (Scrap Register): China's net silver imports dropped sharply by 37% year-on-year last year, Citi believes the decline to continue in 2014.
The New York based bank also looks for by-product output from mining operations for other metals to drive up silver supply by 2% in 2014.
Citi also looks for silver prices to average $20.40 an ounce level this year.
The metal hit a nine-week high of $21.98 in January, with prices buoyed by the uptick in gold, driven by concerns about China, geopolitical turmoil in Ukraine and mixed U.S. economic data.
“However, for this surge to continue, we believe that significant investor physical uptake -- in the form of ETF (exchange-traded-fund and physical bar holdings -- will be needed in the face of muted industrial demand and largely price-inelastic mine supply expansion,” said analyst with Citi, via Kitco News.
“It should be emphasized that strong retail investor demand for silver coins and medals in 2013, with record U.S. Silver Eagle coin sales of 47 million ounces, was driven largely by falling prices and resultant bargain hunting, while conversely 2013 ETF uptake was muted because of those same price falls,” the firm added.
“We very much doubt that bullish market sentiment is sustainable due to weakening fundamentals and forecast prices to average $20.4/oz. this year,” Citi concluded.