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All Signs Pointing to Gold

Please note: The 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.

September 14, 2012

By Frank Holmes
CEO and Chief Investment Officer
U.S. Global Investors

With another syringe of quantitative easing being injected into the U.S. economy’s bloodstream, Ben Bernanke is giving the markets their liquidity fix. The Federal Reserve’s action reaffirmed my stance I’ve reiterated on several occasions that the governments across developed markets have no fiscal discipline, opting for ultra-easy monetary policies to stimulate growth instead.

The government’s liquidity shot promptly boosted gold and gold stocks, as investors sought the protection of the precious metal as a real store of value. You can see below the strong correlation between the rising U.S. monetary base and growing gold value. Since the beginning of 1984, as money supply has risen, so has the price of gold.

Urban Incomes Exceeding Rural Income in China

The dollar declined due to the Fed’s easing, which isn’t surprising, given the fact that gold and the greenback are often inversely correlated, and increasing money supply generally causes the currency to fall in value.

What’s interesting is that currency decline was what Richard Nixon sought to avoid when he ended the gold standard in 1971 and announced that the country would no longer redeem its currency in gold. During his televised speech to the American public, Nixon translated in simple terms the “bugaboo” of devaluation, saying, “if you are among the overwhelming majority of Americans who buy American-made products in America, your dollar will be worth just as much tomorrow as it is today.”

As you can see below, more than 40 years later, a dollar is worth only 17 cents. This significant decline in purchasing power only strengthens the case of gold as a store of value, likely prompting Global Portfolio Strategist Don Coxe to propose making Nixon the “patron saint of gold investors,” during this year’s Denver Gold Forum.

Historical Employment Shifts Across Asia

As Milton Friedman once said, “Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless.”

In its long-term asset return research charting economic history in comparison to current markets, Deutsche Bank illustrates multiple ways how “the world dramatically changed post-1971 relative to prior history.” While the research firm makes it clear that returning to the gold standard would be “disastrous,” DB finds that the “lethal cocktail of unparalleled levels of global debt and unparalleled global money printing” are relatively new governmental developments.

Prior to the last four decades, deficits only occurred in extreme situations of war or severe economic setbacks, such as the Great Depression. Balanced budgets were a “routine peace time phenomena in sound economies.” Since 1971, surpluses have been rare. The U.K. has had an annual budget deficit 51 out of the past 60 years and Spain has had 45 years of deficit spending over the past 49 years, according to DB.

 

Top 10 Net Oil Importers, 2011


Many developed countries are in a predicament, as fiscal austerity attempts have led to weaker-than-expected growth in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy. DB asks, “Can we really be confident that the developed economies that we have created over the last 40 years have the ability to withstand the effects of austerity and cut backs? Do our modern day econometric models have the ability to understand the impacts of fiscal retrenchment after a financial crisis having been calibrated in a period of excessive leverage?”

Countless discussions over fiscal and monetary policies will carry on, but time will tell. Ian McAvity, editor of Deliberations on World Markets, says, “Excessive debt creates deflationary drag that they repeatedly fight by throwing fresh ‘liquidity’ or ‘stimulus’ at, to debauch the currency of that debt … For private investors, gold is the best medium for self-protection and preservation of purchasing power in my view.” I agree. Rising money supply, declining purchasing power and annual deficits are giving the all-clear to include gold in your portfolio.

Many others appear to agree with us, as sentiment has shifted in favor of the metal in recent days: According to Morgan Stanley’s survey of 140 institutional investors in the U.S., gold sentiment was at its highest bullish reading since July 2011 and the largest month-over-month increase during the survey’s three-year history!

So, gold investors, if you haven’t put in your orders, consider getting them in quickly, because the bulls are buying. Credit Suisse saw “massive inflows” into gold exchange-traded products in August after experiencing significant outflows compared to crude oil and the broader market in March, April, May and July. August shows a clear preference toward gold.

China's Crude Oil Imports by Sources, 2011

We generated lots of interest when we showed our standard deviation chart a few weeks ago, so I updated it through September 13. Although gold has been on a tear recently, breaking through the stumbling block of $1,600 and climbing to $1,770 by the end of the week, bullion still looks attractive, with a low sigma reading of -1.7

China's Crude Oil Imports by Sources, 2011

A look at a histogram shows how many times gold bullion historically fell in this sigma range. Today’s sigma of -1.7 has occurred only about 2 percent of the time. Bernanke and Draghi only made the decision more obvious for gold and gold stock buyers.

China's Crude Oil Imports by Sources, 2011

The Fed and ECB also make my job presenting at the Hard Assets conference in Chicago very exciting. Don’t miss my presentation on September 21. I invite you to be there in person if you live in close proximity to Chicago, or you can download a pdf at www.usfunds.com following the meeting.

You might also learn something you didn’t know with our newest interactive slideshow, the 10 Surprising Uses of Commodities. Check it out and share with a friend.

CD Rates at 50-Year Low. your Money Deserves Better

Index Summary

  • The major market indices were higher this week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.15 percent. The S&P 500 Stock Index gained 1.94 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.52 percent.
  • Barra Value outperformed Barra Growth as Barra Value rose 2.36 percent while the Barra Growth index gained 1.59 percent for the week. The Russell 2000 closed the week with a gain of 2.66 percent.
  • The Hang Seng Composite rose 4.33 percent; Taiwan gained 4.22 percent, while the KOSPI increased 4.04 percent.
  • The 10-year Treasury bond yield rose 20 basis points for the week, to 1.87 percent.

Domestic Equity Market

The S&P 500 Index rose 1.94 percent this week as the markets embraced additional Federal Reserve policy in the form of quantitative easing and a promise to keep interest rates exceptionally low through mid-2015. This follows last week, when the European Central Bank announced “unlimited” sovereign bond purchases out to three years for countries that meet certain conditions. We often cite government policy as a precursor to change and that has definitely been the case over the past week or so. These events allow the market to look beyond the current economic malaise and focus on improving fundamentals over the next 6-12 months.

Domestic Equity Market

Strengths

  • The energy sector rose 4.06 percent, leading the way as the Fed sped up the printing presses. Commodities were strong across the board. Halliburton, Southwest Energy and Pioneer Natural all rose by more than 9 percent this week.
  • Financials were also very strong this week, rising by 3.82 percent. Commercial real estate firm CBRE Group jumped by 15 percent and large banks such as Bank of America and Citigroup were up about 8.5 percent on the back of Fed easing.
  • Alpha Natural Resources was the best performer in the S&P 500 for the second week in a row, rising by 23.91 percent. The stock continued the “bounce” that began last week as beaten down areas such as coal were among the week’s best performers.

Weaknesses

  • Defensive sectors were the laggards again this week as the “risk on” trade roared back and sector rotation was the theme. Consumer staples fell 11 basis points while health care was modestly positive in a strong market.
  • The utilities sector lagged for the fifth week in a row as the market continued to rotate into other areas.
  • Monster Beverage was the worst performer this week in the S&P 500, falling by more than 7 percent on news of continued investigations into the safety, labeling and marketing of energy drinks in general. 

Opportunity

  • The market reacted very positively to this week’s Fed announcement, hitting a four-year high. The old saying, “Don’t fight the Fed” is probably appropriate here.

Threat

  • The market will now shift to earnings preannouncements and the upcoming elections, which could cause some volatility.

4- Star Global Resources Fund

The Economy and Bond Market

Treasury yields rose sharply this week as the Fed announced a new round of quantitative easing (QE). The Fed announced an open-ended QE program, purchasing $40 billion in mortgage backed securities each month until the program is no longer needed, and committed to keeping interest rates exceptionally low through mid-2015. It is somewhat counterintuitive for bonds to react negatively to this news, we saw a very similar pattern with prior QE programs; bonds sell off on the announcement as prospects for economic growth increase. This pattern began last week as the European Central Bank decided to implement unlimited EU sovereign bond purchases out to three years. The global easing cycle began a year ago and intensified this week. Even though economic data looks dismal, the market is now able to look past it and toward a recovery.

Slow Job Creation in August

Strengths

  • The Fed exceeded market expectations with an “open ended” QE program and also pledged to keep interest rates exceptionally low through mid-2015.
  • The University of Michigan Confidence Index showed surprising strength in September.
  • Inflation data remains muted with both Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI) reported this week, giving the Fed confidence to act.

Weaknesses

  • Industrial production was very weak in August, falling 1.2 percent versus expectations for no change.
  • Consumer credit unexpectedly fell $3.3 billion in July, the first decline in 11 months.
  • Moody’s warned that if lawmakers don’t agree on policies to address the budget deficit next year, the U.S. would be downgraded.

Opportunity

  • The Fed and ECB have both enacted new easing policies over the past two weeks and the third leg of the stool is China. China is currently going through a leadership transition that should be finalized by mid-October and that will likely allow the new leadership to take stimulative action.
  • Interest rates are likely to remain very low for the foreseeable future.

Threat

  • Europe remains a wildcard with the markets shifting focus on a weekly basis.
  • China also remains somewhat of a wildcard with the current leadership shift and lack of recent actions targeted at boosting the economy.

Frank Holmes to Speak at the Chicago Hard Assets Investment Conference

World Precious Minerals Fund - UNWPX • Gold and Precious Metals Fund - USERX

Gold Market

For the week, spot gold closed at $1,770.75 up $35.10 per ounce, or 2.02 percent.  Gold stocks, as measured by the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, rose 6.62 percent. The U.S. Trade-Weighted Dollar Index slumped 1.76 percent for the week.

Strengths

  • The turn to higher prices in the gold market has been a welcome relief from the despair many were feeling during the summer doldrums.
  • Bernanke’s Fed has come through on a new quantitative easing program that is open-ended, which should provide a new floor for gold prices.  In addition, there will be a push to keep interest rates very low and the Fed has suggested the punch bowl of stimulus will not be taken away early even if the economy appears to be turning around.
  • Generalist and fast money players have shunned the precious metals sector since the February highs with a zeal that has now turned to a grimace as they consider buying back their positions. 

Weaknesses

  • Even in a great gold market you shouldn’t buy just any stock that has been knocked down.  Great Basin, which previously fell by about 50 percent a month ago, tumbled another 65 percent this week as it announced it would suspend operations at its Burnstone mine due to an inability to continue to fund operations.
  • The West African nation Ivory Coast announced it will increase taxes on gold miners operating in the country.  Perseus Mining’s grow plans to put its Ivory Coast Tengrela Gold project into production could be put on hold pending the resolution of the tax issue.
  • The document outlining the rationale for the increase in taxes stated, “The price of gold, which was around $300 per ounce in 2002, is today above $1,700, or practically a six-fold increase without any comparable increase in production costs.”  For those mining companies that espouse to investors that their “cash cost” to produce an ounce of gold is, for example, $400 with $1,200 margins at $1,600 gold, take notice.  The only people that believe these metrics are governments!  Presently, the all-in cost to produce an ounce of gold is running closer to $1,375.

Opportunities

  • Both the Denver Gold Forum and the Precious Metals Summit took place over the past week.  Despite the rise in gold prices, investors were guardedly optimistic on their outlook, versus euphoria which leads to runaway prices.  
  • The mood for acquisitions was very strong by the companies that are in a position to acquire cheap assets, but there are few sellers to accommodate them.  We expect that deals will get done and this should be an extra boost for those companies with desirable assets that make sense to put into production.  
  • There was discussion at the World Gold Council meeting held in Denver that companies may move away from quoting “cash cost” numbers to produce an ounce of gold.  After all, this was a non-GAAP metric that was invented to hide the fact that gold companies did not make any profits when gold prices were depressed.  Better transparency for investors will be good for the industry.  In addition, companies emphasized the need to refocus their priorities on growing their profitability versus the number of gold ounces produced.

Threats

  • Conflict with labor unions continues to be a problem in South Africa.  This has largely impacted the platinum miners, pushing up the price of platinum and palladium, but some of the gold companies are being impacted, too.
  • With the drought of equity financings over the last six months, be prepared for some companies to come to the market to raise money.  There certainly are some quality projects that should be funded and make economic sense, but be wary of just investing in any deal that comes along.  Investors were shocked when their $9.50 investment in NovaGold Resources back in February traded down to $3.68 per share in August.
  • In addition, profit taking is always a concern.  In the next two weeks, everybody will be watching to see if the gains in gold and in the equity prices can be maintained.  The arguments for staying long are extremely compelling because the woes of the economy cannot be fixed in any magical way.  If no correction takes place in the near term, caution would still be appropriate after the closing of the September quarter.

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Energy and Natural Resources Market

Slow Job Creation in August

Strengths

  • Commodities across the board gained strongly this week leading up to and following the announcement of QE3 by the Fed. WTI Crude oil was up 4.5 percent, LME copper was up 9 percent, NYMEX natural gas was up 5.9 percent, and zinc was up 10.7 percent.
  • Oil prices increased 2.6 percent this week after two events – the deadly attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the Fed announcing an open-ended QE program. Events in Libya remind us that supply risks persist beyond Iran.  Tight OPEC spare capacity levels serve as a supportive oil price backdrop for these supply risks.

Weaknesses

  • Aluminum markets remain oversupplied. In an editorial in the Financial Times this week, the CEO of RUSAL said aluminum producers should cap their output, as downward pressure on prices is expected to continue into 2013 as reported by Reuters.  Also, Tajikistan's state-owned aluminum smelter, the largest in Central Asia, cut its production forecast for the year by 15 percent.
  • The Australian government announced that employment in the mining sector declined 4,600 during the three months ending August, the first quarterly decline since mid-2009. Several of the country's largest miners, including BHP Billiton, Xstrata and Fortescue, have recently announced job reductions amid a difficult environment of declining prices, higher costs and a strong Australian dollar.

Opportunities

  • The downward revision of the coal production forecast by the Indonesian Coal Mining Association signals a quantifiable supply response to lower prices which could provide meaningful fundamental price support to the market.
  • A slide in iron ore prices to three-year lows is forcing many high-cost miners in top consumer China to curb output, industry sources say, in a move that could reduce the surplus in a market weighed down by near record Chinese stocks. China produces about 1 billion tons a year of iron ore and buys 60 percent of the steelmaking raw material traded globally. But a slowdown in its economic growth has undermined demand assumptions and hit prices hard. Iron ore fell last week to $86.70 a ton, a level unseen since October 2009. Traders and major miners have been waiting for evidence that China is cutting output to help rebalance supply with the slowdown in demand from steel mills, per Reuters.
  • Anglo American Platinum said it had halted work at its four Rustenburg Platinum Group Metals mines, which account for 17 percent of its output, due to fears for the safety of its 19,000 staff after labor unrest spread throughout South Africa.   

Threats

  • According to OPEC, global crude supplies are likely to be abundant and an expected slowdown in oil demand growth next year may be more severe than forecast if the global economy deteriorates. The world oil consumption is expected to decline to 800,000 barrels a day in 2013, from 900,000 a day this year, and OPEC members would need to pump an average of 29.5 million barrels a day next year.
  • Reuters reported that the Côte d'Ivoire government plans to unveil a windfall profit tax on gold miners to benefit from higher prices for the metal. The new tax is expected to yield about $79 million of additional revenues to the state. It produced 12 tons of gold in 2011.

Fiscal Year 2012 Earnings Announcement Webcast

China Region Fund - USCOX  •  Eastern European Fund - EUROX
Global Emerging Markets Fund - GEMFX

Emerging Markets
 

Strengths

  • New home sales, residential investments and housing starts in China all showed an encouraging recovery in August, registering 13 percent, 10 percent, and 5 percent year-over-year growth, respectively, as lower interest rates and policy relaxation for first-time home buyers continued to help housing transactions normalize.
  • South Korea announced a $5.2 billion stimulus package aimed at reducing taxes on individual income and home and auto purchases as well as expanding social welfare programs.  Combined with $7.5 billion introduced in June, cumulative government initiative for this year equals 1 percent of GDP.  The country’s debt rating was upgraded one notch to A+ by S&P this week.
  • Turkish Airlines' passenger numbers increased by 19 percent year-to-date in August. After a slowdown in July 2012 due to Ramadan, which negatively affected mainly Middle Eastern air traffic, the carrier again posted a strong increase in load factor, up 5.2 percent. Meanwhile, favorable passenger mix development continues as business class passenger count was up 45 percent year-to-date.

Weaknesses

  • China’s industrial production growth in August came out lower than expected at 8.9 percent year-over-year, the first monthly pace below 9 percent since May 2009, as a slight stabilization in heavy industry output failed to offset a retreat in light industry.  Deterioration in the metric with the highest historical correlation to GDP lowers the probability of a near-term growth recovery in China.
  • China’s passenger car sales grew 11 percent year-over-year in August to a lower-than-estimated 1.22 million units, as dealer inventories remained higher than normal and consumers postponed purchases in anticipation of more price discounts.  Total auto sales rose 8.3 percent to 1.5 million, as commercial vehicle sales stayed weak.
  • China’s total imports declined by 2.6 percent year-over-year in August, the first year-over-year decline since October 2009 excluding seasonal distortions from the Chinese New Year, another indicator of feeble domestic demand and continued de-stocking.

Opportunities

  • New EU banking union proposals are designed so that non-euro countries can join if they wish. Austrian bank regulators expressed their support for the new eastern members of the EU to join.  Austrian banks are the biggest lenders in Southeastern Europe.
  • Iraq’s central government and the Kurdish regional government struck a preliminary deal on Thursday on a months-long oil dispute that will see the autonomous region export 200,000 barrels of oil per day, officials said. Any resolution of the long standoff will help crystallize valuation of the energy companies with exploration projects in the area.
  • The launch of the third round of quantitative easing (QE3) by the U.S. Fed brings new hope for emerging Asian markets in general.  Based on the historical parallel of what happened to different equity sectors in the near term after the Fed’s formal announcement of QE2 in early November 2010, the technology sector in Asia tends to consistently outperform in this environment.
Quantitative Easing Bodes Well for Asian Technology Sector
Sector Returns Post QE2 Announcement, MSCI Asia Pacific ex Japan
  1 Month After   3 Months After   6 Months After
QE2 Announcement on November 3, 2010
Source: Bloomberg
Technology 5.91% Technology 16.13% Technology 14.74%
Healthcare 3.17% Materials 5.56% Materials 14.54%
Materials 0.40% Energy 2.86% Energy 11.84%
Energy -0.91% Healthcare 2.47% Healthcare 8.24%
Telecom -1.33% Industrials 1.56% Consumer Discretion 7.92%
Consumer Discretion -1.80% Telecom 0.58% Financials 3.95%
Industrials -2.39% Financials -1.67% Industrials 3.56%
Financials -3.45% Consumer Discretion -3.74% Telecom 3.06%
Utilities -3.46% Utilities -6.17% Consumer Staples 1.58%
Consumer Staples -5.14% Consumer Staples -6.22% Utilities -1.87%

Threats

  • A risk exists that policymakers in Asia may overreact to inflation prospects as a result of QE3-induced commodity price rallies and hot money inflows.  The earliest sign was observed when Hong Kong’s monetary authority tightened mortgage lending immediately after the Fed’s QE3 announcement.
  • According to the Turkish banking regulator bulletin, a large corporate loan on the banking sector’s balance sheet has gone bad. Next week, the list of banks that potentially have been hit by this default should be narrowed down.
  • Moving counter to the global easing cycle, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) decided to hike key interest rates by 25 basis points, with another hike now expected in the fourth quarter.  The CBR elaborated on inflation risks and stated that headline inflation advanced to 6.3 percent, exceeding its target.
Frank Talk Insight for Investors
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September 13, 2012
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A Blog by Frank Holmes, C.E.O. and Chief Investment Officer

Leaders and Laggards

The tables show the performance of major equity and commodity market benchmarks of our family of funds.

Weekly Performance
Index Close Weekly
Change($)
Weekly
Change(%)
DJIA 13,593.37 +286.73 +2.15%
S&P 500 1,465.77 +27.85 +1.94%
S&P BARRA Value 664.97 +15.34 +2.36%
S&P BARRA Growth 792.96 +12.38 +1.59%
S&P Energy 569.90 +22.24 +4.06%
S&P Basic Materials 241.58 +8.77 +3.77%
Nasdaq 3,183.95 +47.53 +1.52%
Russell 2000 864.70 +22.43 +2.66%
Hang Seng Composite Index 2,784.96 +115.46 +4.33%
Korean KOSPI Index 2,007.58 +78.00 +4.04%
S&P/TSX Canadian Gold Index 346.28 +17.66 +5.37%
XAU 191.97 +12.69 +7.08%
Gold Futures 1,772.90 +32.40 +1.86%
Oil Futures 99.00 +2.58 +2.68%
Natural Gas Futures 2.96 +0.27 +10.22%
10-Yr Treasury Bond 1.87 +0.20 +11.86%

Monthly Performance
Index Close Monthly
Change($)
Monthly
Change(%)
DJIA 13,593.37 +428.59 +3.26%
S&P 500 1,465.77 +60.24 +4.29%
S&P BARRA Value 664.97 +31.70 +5.01%
S&P BARRA Growth 792.96 +28.25 +3.69%
S&P Energy 569.90 +32.61 +6.07%
S&P Basic Materials 241.58 +16.30 +7.24%
Nasdaq 3,183.95 +153.02 +5.05%
Russell 2000 864.70 +60.44 +7.51%
Hang Seng Composite Index 2,784.96 -332.01 -14.83%
Korean KOSPI Index 2,007.58 +50.62 +2.59%
S&P/TSX Canadian Gold Index 346.28 +54.14 +18.53%
XAU 191.97 +36.35 +23.36%
Gold Futures 1,772.90 +166.30 +10.35%
Oil Futures 99.00 +4.67 +4.95%
Natural Gas Futures 2.96 +0.21 +7.57%
10-Yr Treasury Bond 1.87 +0.05 +2.81%

Quarterly Performance
Index Close Quarterly
Change($)
Quarterly
Change(%)
DJIA 13,593.37 +941.46 +7.44%
S&P 500 1,465.77 +136.67 +10.28%
S&P BARRA Value 664.97 +64.09 +10.67%
S&P BARRA Growth 792.96 +71.85 +9.96%
S&P Energy 569.90 +81.93 +16.79%
S&P Basic Materials 241.58 +25.24 +11.67%
Nasdaq 3,183.95 +347.62 +12.26%
Russell 2000 864.70 +102.36 +13.43%
Hang Seng Composite Index 2,784.96 +196.32 +7.58%
Korean KOSPI Index 2,007.58 +136.10 +7.27%
S&P/TSX Canadian Gold Index 346.28 +23.44 +7.26%
XAU 191.97 +28.28 +17.28%
Gold Futures 1,772.90 +149.00 +9.18%
Oil Futures 99.00 +15.09 +17.98%
Natural Gas Futures 2.96 +0.46 +18.48%
10-Yr Treasury Bond 1.87 +0.22 +13.63%

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. Distributed by U.S. Global Brokerage, Inc.

An investment in a money market fund is neither insured nor guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although the fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in the fund.

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

Foreign and emerging market investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and less public disclosure, as well as economic and political risk. By investing in a specific geographic region, a regional fund’s returns and share price may be more volatile than those of a less concentrated portfolio.

The Eastern European Fund invests more than 25 percent of its investments in companies principally engaged in the oil & gas or banking industries. The risk of concentrating investments in this group of industries will make the fund more susceptible to risk in these industries than funds which do not concentrate their investments in an industry and may make the fund’s performance more volatile.

Because the Global Resources Fund concentrates its investments in a specific industry, the fund may be subject to greater risks and fluctuations than a portfolio representing a broader range of industries.

Gold, precious metals, and precious minerals funds may be susceptible to adverse economic, political or regulatory developments due to concentrating in a single theme. The prices of gold, precious metals, and precious minerals are subject to substantial price fluctuations over short periods of time and may be affected by unpredicted international monetary and political policies. We suggest investing no more than 5 percent to 10 percent of your portfolio in these sectors. 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.

Tax-exempt income is federal income tax free. A portion of this income may be subject to state and local income taxes, and if applicable, may subject certain investors to the Alternative Minimum Tax as well. Each tax free fund may invest up to 20 percent 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. Bond funds are subject to interest-rate risk; their value declines as interest rates rise. The tax free funds may be exposed to risks related to a concentration of investments in a particular state or geographic area. These investments present risks resulting from changes in economic conditions of the region or issuer.

Past performance does not guarantee future results.

These market comments were compiled using Bloomberg and Reuters financial news.

Holdings as a percentage of net assets as of 06/30/12:

Halliburton Co.: 0.0%
Southwest Energy: 0.0%
Pioneer Natural Resources Co.: Global Resources Fund, 1.79%
CBRE Group, Inc.: 0.0%
Bank of America Corp.: 0.0%
Citigroup, Inc.: 0.0%
Alpha Natural Resources, Inc.: 0.0%
Monster Beverage Corp.: All American Equity Fund, 1.64%; Holmes Growth Fund, 1.56%
Great Basin Gold Ltd: Gold and Precious Metals Fund, 0.15%; World Precious Minerals Fund, 0.21%
Perseus Mining Ltd: 0.0%
NovaGold Resources, Inc.: 0.0%
RUSAL plc: 0.0%
BHP Billiton Ltd: 0.0%
Xstrata plc: 0.0%
Fortescue Metals Group Ltd: 0.0%
Anglo American Platinum Ltd: 0.0%

*The above-mentioned indices are not total returns. These returns reflect simple appreciation only and do not reflect dividend reinvestment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 blue chip stocks that are generally leaders in their industry.
The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies.
The Nasdaq Composite Index is a capitalization-weighted index of all Nasdaq National Market and SmallCap stocks.
The S&P BARRA Growth Index is a capitalization-weighted index of all stocks in the S&P 500 that have high price-to-book ratios.
The S&P BARRA Value Index is a capitalization-weighted index of all stocks in the S&P 500 that have low price-to-book ratios.
The Russell 2000 Index® is a U.S. equity index measuring the performance of the 2,000 smallest companies in the Russell 3000®, a widely recognized small-cap index.
The Hang Seng Composite Index is a market capitalization-weighted index that comprises the top 200 companies listed on Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, based on average market cap for the 12 months.
The Taiwan Stock Exchange Index is a capitalization-weighted index of all listed common shares traded on the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
The Korea Stock Price Index is a capitalization-weighted index of all common shares and preferred shares on the Korean Stock Exchanges.
The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold and Silver Index (XAU) is a capitalization-weighted index that includes the leading companies involved in the mining of gold and silver.
The U.S. Trade Weighted Dollar Index provides a general indication of the international value of the U.S. dollar.
The MSCI Russia Index is a free-float weighted equity index developed in 1994 to track major equities traded in the Russian market.
The S&P/TSX Canadian Gold Capped Sector Index is a modified capitalization-weighted index, whose equity weights are capped 25 percent and index constituents are derived from a subset stock pool of S&P/TSX Composite Index stocks.
The S&P 500 Energy Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the energy sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Materials Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the material sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Financials Index is a capitalization-weighted index. The index was developed with a base level of 10 for the 1941-43 base period.
The S&P 500 Industrials Index is a Materials Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the industrial sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Consumer Discretionary Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the consumer discretionary sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Information Technology Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the information technology sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Consumer Staples Index is a Materials Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the consumer staples sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Utilities Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the utilities sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Healthcare Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the healthcare sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Telecom Index is a Materials Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the telecom sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The Bloomberg Gold Bear/Bull Sentiment Indicator charts the percent of respondents in a weekly Bloomberg News survey of traders, investors, and analysts predicting gold prices will rise the following week. The number of participants in the survey, which is completed every Friday, may vary.
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 S&P/TSX Global Gold Index is an international benchmark tracking the world's leading gold companies with the intent to provide an investable representative index of publicly-traded international gold companies.
The NYSE Arca Gold BUGS (Basket of Unhedged Gold Stocks) Index (HUI) is a modified equal dollar weighted index of companies involved in gold mining. The HUI Index was designed to provide significant exposure to near term movements in gold prices by including companies that do not hedge their gold production beyond 1.5 years.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is one of the most widely recognized price measures for tracking the price of a market basket of goods and services purchased by individuals. The weights of components are based on consumer spending patterns.
The Producer Price Index (PPI) measures prices received by producers at the first commercial sale. The index measures goods at three stages of production: finished, intermediate and crude.
The University of Michigan Confidence Index is a survey of consumer confidence conducted by the University of Michigan. The report, released on the tenth of each month, gives a snapshot of whether or not consumers are willing to spend money.

These market comments were compiled using Bloomberg and Reuters financial news.

 

Net Asset Value
as of 08/22/2019

Global Resources Fund PSPFX $4.27 -0.02 Gold and Precious Metals Fund USERX $9.07 -0.07 World Precious Minerals Fund UNWPX $3.15 0.01 China Region Fund USCOX $8.25 -0.11 Emerging Europe Fund EUROX $6.78 0.03 All American Equity Fund GBTFX $24.38 0.03 Holmes Macro Trends Fund MEGAX $17.02 0.02 Near-Term Tax Free Fund NEARX $2.23 No Change U.S. Government Securities Ultra-Short Bond Fund UGSDX $2.00 No Change