Decoding gold's signal to stocks

It's been a shiny, glittering, bright start to the year for gold. Throw in all the usual adjectives because the precious metal is on track for one of its best starts to a year since 1980.

And if history is any guide, gold's big quarter could be a bullish signal for stocks.

Using Kensho, a tool designed to quantify historical market events, we looked at quarters where gold has jumped 10 percent or more since 1990. There have been nine non-overlapping occasions.

The stats don't offer much when it comes to gold's record itself after a stellar quarter. Six months later, it's higher only about half the time. So betting on a continued rise has been no better than a coin toss.

But where it gets interesting is what's happened next to stocks.

Six months later, the major U.S. benchmarks have reliably climbed higher. The gain for equities may suggest that after a big quarter for gold — traditionally seen as a safety place — investors are ready to put some risk back on the table.

Indeed, the relatively riskier indexes, the Nasdaq Composite and small cap Russell 2000, have outperformed the S&P500 and blue chip Dow Industrials. All four have traded positive in seven of nine instances.

The best performing sector half a year later has been energy. It has traded positive in every occasion and returned more than 10 percent on average. The materials and technology sectors have been good bets as well.

And it's not just U.S. stocks that typically gain after a gold rush. In Europe, Germany's DAX index has been a big winner, gaining 11.5 percent on average, while in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng has returned more than 13 percent on average.

Gold may be the standout so far this year. But history suggests it may yet be equities' time to shine.

Sign up to receive Big Data Investor

CNBC's new newsletter, delivering the week's most actionable big data insights from CNBC and Kensho, a quantitative tool used exclusively by Wall Street's top trading firms...and CNBC.


Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about our products and services. Privacy Policy.
Please enter a valid email address