Gold and silver are tentatively higher after their 2% and 8% falls yesterday. In silver, speculators on the COMEX continue to liquidate on mass after margin was increased a massive 84% and various stop loss levels are hit, leading to further falls in the futures market.
Cross Currency Rates
Absolutely nothing has changed regarding the fundamentals driving the gold and silver markets and this will likely be another correction in gold and another sharp correction in silver.
Gold and silver’s rise is likely to continue until we return to a world of healthy economic growth, low inflation and positive real interest rates.
Gold in US Dollars – Bloomberg Adjusted for Inflation 1971 to 2011 (Monthly)
It is important to put the falls in gold and particularly silver in context and as ever focus on the long term. The long term inflation-adjusted charts put the gold correction and silver crash (above and below) in perspective and show both as being buying opportunities again. Although buyers should consider dollar cost averaging into position in order to mitigate any further price weakness.
With macroeconomic, monetary and geopolitical risks remaining high – including the threat of terrorism and war – safe haven demand from investors, pension funds and central banks is likely to continue.
The usual gold and silver bubble callers are out in force once again and it is interesting how there appears to be more coverage of gold and particularly silver now than there was with prices rising in 2010 and early 2011.
The fact that John Paulson and a number of other increasingly respected hedge fund managers still own massive gold positions and are not selling did not receive as much coverage as the rumours of Soros selling some of his gold.
John Paulson told investors at a breakfast on Tuesday that he expects gold to hit $2,500/oz to $4,000/oz in the next three to five years.
Also, the massive gold accumulation by Mexico, Russia and Thailand was barely reported in the non-specialist financial press, nor was reported the news regarding Portugal being urged to sell its gold by senior German lawmakers.
Silver’s sell off has been vicious but value buyers continue to accumulate silver bullion. Jim Rogers, who arguably has a better track record than Soros in recent years, remains bullish on gold and silver and told CNBC, “if it goes down I hope I’m smart enough to buy move silver."
Other widely followed and respected investors with expertise on gold and silver such as Peter Grandich and Jim Sinclair are also relaxed about the falls and remain bullish on gold and silver due to the continuing strong fundamentals.
Also, there are reports this morning from the Wall Street Journal and Mitsui that there was decent buying of silver from China at these price levels overnight.
Gold is trading at $1,483.82/oz, €1,021.42/oz and £903.61/oz.
Silver is trading at $34.18/oz, €23.53/oz and £20.67/oz.
Platinum Group Metals
Platinum is trading at $1778/oz, palladium at $708/oz and rhodium at $2,250/oz.
(Wall Street Journal) Silver Is Down, but China Is Still Buying
Silver is sinking even further this morning, as investors follow George Soros and John Burbank in dumping the precious metal.
Silver on Tuesday suffered its worst one-day drubbing in three decades. In a troubling sign for silver bulls, silver futures are down to about $40.45 per troy ounce, down more than 12% over the first two days of this week. Gold is unchanged, highlighting the difficulties silver is having.
For months, professional and individual investors piled into silver to protect against weakening value for the greenback, and to guard against a pickup in inflation. Precious metals often serve as an alternative to paper currencies.
The U.S. dollar has fallen 9% so far this year compared with a basket of major currencies, through Tuesday, boosting the silver trade. Many smaller investors favor silver investments over gold, partly because silver is more affordable, earning it the sobriquet “the poor man’s gold.”
Silver fans have this possible arrow in their quiver: Signs that the Chinese are stilling buying, according to traders.
“If the Chinese weren’t significant buyers I’d be shorting right now,” said a hedge-fund manager with a major position in gold and silver.
And precious-metal believers still have John Paulson to lean on – he told investors at a breakfast on Tuesday that he expects gold to hit $2,500 to $4,000 in the next three to five years. Gold now trades at more than $1,530 an ounce.
Paul Touradji of hedge fund Touradji Capital Management LP also is holding on to his sizable gold and silver positions, according to someone close to the matter.
(Bloomberg) — Silver Investors Dump Bets After Exchange Boosts Margins 84% (1)
The biggest slump for silver since 1983 may not be over as the Comex exchange in New York makes it 84 percent more expensive for speculators to trade the metal, triggering an exit by investors.
The minimum amount of cash that must be deposited when borrowing from brokers to open new positions will rise to $21,600 per contract after May 9, CME Group Ltd., Comex’s owner, said yesterday. That’s up from $11,745 two weeks ago. Open interest in futures has tumbled about 15 percent since the exchange began raising margin requirements on April 25.
Prices may drop an additional 14 percent to $34 an ounce by the end of next week from yesterday’s closing price, according to the average forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of six analysts. Silver has more than doubled in the past year as record-low U.S. borrowing costs and a slumping dollar prompted investors to buy precious metals as alternative assets.
“You’re talking about a very volatile market, a very significant run-up in a very short period of time,” said Michael Cuggino, who helps manage $12 billion at Permanent Portfolio in San Francisco. “It went too high too fast, and exacerbating it on the downside is the increased margin requirements.”
As of April 29, the metal had soared 57 percent in 2011, the most among the 19 commodities tracked by the Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index. In the past four sessions, silver plunged 25 percent, the most since February 1983. The slump trimmed this year’s advance to 17 percent, trailing gains by gasoline, coffee and gasoil.
“If you have to put up that much more margin, many people simply say ‘no, I won’t do it,’ so they liquidate,” said Dennis Gartman, an economist and the editor of the Suffolk, Virginia- based Gartman Letter. “It got a bit frothy, and frothy markets need to correct.”
CME raised margins after “unprecedented high levels of volatility,” Harriet Hunnable, the managing director of metals products, said in a telephone interview from the company’s headquarters in Chicago. Silver’s 10-day historical volatility jumped to 81.19 today, the highest since March 2009. The exchange has announced five margin increases in the past two weeks.
“When markets become highly volatile, and we can see the market anticipates further volatility, then it is highly likely that we will change the amount we require,” Hunnable said. “The exchange increases margins to manage the risk people face.”
Before the increases, margins were about 5 percent of the value of a futures contract, which is for 5,000 ounces. After the plunge in prices, the cost after May 9 would be about 12 percent of a contract, using today’s settlement.
Silver “went up much too fast, and if it continues to go up, that’s disaster,” said Jim Rogers, the chairman of Singapore-based Rogers Holdings, who predicted the start of the global commodities rally in 1999. “I’m very happy it’s coming down nicely. I hope it comes down some more so I can buy some more. Markets are always correcting.”
The metal may reach $45 in the third quarter, said Ralph Preston, a principal at Heritage West Financial Inc., a San Diego company that specializes in futures trading. “At this point, I see some serious long liquidation and profit taking, but not an end to the historic 2011 rally.”
The rally won’t stop “until the Federal Reserve begins to aggressively hike interest rates, the Middle East simmers down, and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission concludes its multiyear investigation into supposed market manipulation,” Preston said.
Silver futures for July delivery fell $3.148, or 8 percent, to close at $36.24 on the Comex. Prices touched $49.845 on April 25, the highest since the Hunt Brothers cornered the market in 1980. Futures rallied as investor demand rose, pushing holdings by exchange-traded funds backed by the metal up 24 percent in the past 12 months. Shares outstanding of the iShares Silver Trust ETF, the biggest such fund, tumbled 4.7 percent on May 3, the largest slide since January 2008.
Traders who follow options markets may not be surprised by this week’s declines. The ratio of puts per call for the iShares Silver Trust rose higher than 0.9 in April, the highest since December 2008.
Silver reached a record $50.35 in January 1980 as the government investigated the Hunt Brothers’ attempt to corner the market. The brothers were forced to sell off their holdings, and the price collapsed to $10.90 in four months.
Prices may drop as low as $31 by the end of the week before rebounding, said Frank McGhee, the head dealer at Integrated Brokerage Services in Chicago. On April 28, McGhee forecast $62 by the end of the year.
“Silver is a freight train,” McGhee said. “The market doesn’t change, doesn’t give up. It’s relentless, and you’re just going to get rolled over.”
(Bloomberg) — Silver Set for Worst Weekly Drop Since 1975 Amid Commodity Rout
Silver futures fell, heading for the steepest weekly decline since at least 1975, as an increase in margin requirements and slump in commodities from copper to oil prompted investors to sell precious metals. Gold is set for the biggest drop since February 2009.
The Standard & Poor’s GSCI index of 24 commodities sank 6.5 percent yesterday on concern that slower global growth may crimp demand. Silver dropped 30 percent from a 30-year high of $49.845 set April 25 and exchange-traded product holdings of the metal yesterday slid the most in three years after Comex owner CME Group Ltd. announced an 84 percent increase in margin requirements.
“Given the liquidation of ETP holdings yesterday and the increase in margin requirements, further pressure could be in store in the coming sessions,” James Moore, an analyst at TheBullionDesk.com in London, said in a report to clients.
Silver for July delivery fell as much as $1.97, or 5.4 percent, to $34.27 an ounce and traded at $34.87 at 9:41 a.m. London time on the Comex in New York. It’s down 28 percent this week. A bear market is defined by some investors as a decline of 20 percent or more. Silver for immediate delivery was 0.6 percent lower at $34.89 in London.
The minimum amount of cash that must be deposited when borrowing from brokers to trade silver futures will rise to $21,600 a contract after May 9, CME Group said on May 4. That was up from $11,745 two weeks ago. Silver spot prices climbed to a record $49.79 on April 25.
“The higher cash-margin requirements simply cannot be met by all participants, and when a trader can’t make margin, the underlying security is often liquidated,” Lachlan Shaw, a commodity analyst at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, wrote in a note. “Further silver price falls are possible.”
Asset Holdings Tumble
Silver assets held in exchange-traded products tumbled 3.6 percent to 14,546.99 metric tons yesterday, the biggest decline since Jan. 2, 2008, while gold holdings fell 0.7 percent to 2,057.08 tons, the biggest drop in three months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Gold for June delivery was little changed at $1,481.50 an ounce on the Comex. The metal, which reached a record $1,577.40 on May 2, is down 4.8 percent this week. Immediate-delivery bullion was 0.5 percent higher at $1,481.50 an ounce in London.
Bullion gained for six consecutive weeks as it advanced to a record on demand for a hedge against rising inflation and an alternative to a weakening dollar. The dollar headed for the first weekly gain since March after slumping to the lowest level since July 2008 against six major currencies. Gold may slow losses after Mexico, Russia and Thailand added the metal to their reserves in February and March, Marc Ground, an analyst at Standard Bank Plc, said yesterday.
Eight of 18 traders, investors and analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, or 44 percent, said that gold will fall next week. Seven predicted higher prices and three were neutral.
“Should there be another sell-off in commodities, gold may be impacted,” said Ong Yi Ling, a Singapore-based analyst at Phillip Futures Pte Ltd. “However, its losses may be limited by its safe-haven properties.”
Palladium for immediate delivery was up 0.9 percent at $719.50 an ounce. Platinum gained 1.2 percent to $1,786.20 an ounce.
(Financial Times) — Silver falls for fifth day
Silver prices plunged for the fifth consecutive day on Friday as the grey precious metal suffered its biggest correction since the billionaire Hunt brothers cornered the market in 1980.
The reversal of fortunes for silver – which until this week’s 25 per cent drop had been up 56 per cent since January – has led a wider sell-off in commodities markets, which were heading towards one of their worst one-day falls on record.
“The silver market has become even more unhinged as the week nears an end, with no sign yet that the nervous selling momentum is near petering out,” said Edel Tully, precious metals strategist at UBS.
“This has paved the way for a wider commodity slump,” she added.
On the spot market in London, silver fell by a further 1 per cent to $34.35 a troy ounce, unable to hold gains seen earlier in the session. The fresh losses came after falls of as much as 9 per cent on Thursday to a six-week low of $35.82 a troy ounce.
The volatility in silver has been exacerbated by a series of increases in margin – or the amount of cash that investors must set aside to trade each contract – by CME Group, which runs the silver futures exchange in New York.
CME has raised its margin requirements five times in the past 15 days. Investors must now set aside $14,000 per silver futures contract, worth about $180,000 at current prices. The rate will rise to $16,000 on Monday.
The increase in trading costs has forced some investors to sell their futures positions if they are unable to raise sufficient cash. The changes in margin rates are a function of the increases in volatility and price rises.
Investors have also been rushing to sell silver held through exchange-traded funds.
Holdings of silver through ETFs fell by 520 tonnes on Wednesday, the second largest daily drop on record, according to Suki Cooper, precious metals analyst at Barclays Capital in New York.
Investors had withdrawn 1,105 tonnes of silver from ETFs in seven days, Ms Cooper added, a decline of about 10 per cent.
The drop in silver comes after a spectacular rally in which the metal soared 175 per cent between August last year and last week, when it rose to within touching distance of the all-time nominal high of $50 an ounce, amid widespread enthusiasm among investors.
Sales of silver coins surged to record levels as retail investors, particularly in North America, bought the metal as an expression of dissatisfaction with the perceived profligacy of the Federal Reserve and the US government and the faltering US dollar.
The tumble in silver has led the price of other precious metals lower. However, gold has managed to remain relatively unscathed compared with its poorer cousin. Since hitting an all-time peak on Monday, the yellow metal is down 5.9 per cent at $1,483 an ounce.
Platinum and palladium, the other two main precious metals, have fallen 5.2 and 10.4 per cent respectively in the past four days.
GFMS, a leading precious metals consultancy, said in its annual survey of the two metals that palladium could rally to a fresh 10-year high of $975 a troy ounce, while platinum would hit a peak of $1,925 a troy ounce this year.
However, Philip Klapwijk, the consultancy’s executive chairman, warned that before the metals hit new highs, a “summer slump” across the precious metals was “quite likely”.
(Irish Independent) — Gold prices slide after mega-rich Soros offloads his large holding
Gold prices retreated yesterday after mega-rich currency speculator George Soros sold the precious metal.
The multi-billionaire hedge fund manager sold his large holding in gold as the price spiked to $1,550 an ounce.
Mr Soros’s liquidation could well mark the peak for gold since other hedge funds and traders who followed him into the gold trade could decide to sell, market traders said.
The Hungarian-American financier is understood to have first started to accumulate gold in 2008 when it was in the $850-$900 an ounce range.
This means he made a return of at least 60pc to 70pc over almost three years.
Soros Fund Management, a $28bn (€18.8bn) firm run by Keith Anderson, bought gold to protect against deflation.
It now believes there is less risk of a sustained drop in consumer prices because the Federal Reserve is still pumping money into the financial system, it was reported in the US.
A spokesman for the company declined to comment.
Gold for June delivery fell $28.90, or almost 2pc, to $1,511.50 an ounce.
It also emerged yesterday that Mexico massively ramped up its gold reserves in the first quarter of this year.
It bought more than $4bn of bullion as emerging economies move away from the ailing US dollar, which has dipped to two-and-a-half-year lows.
The third-biggest one-off purchase of gold by any country over the past decade took Mexico’s reserves to 100.15 tonnes — or 3.22 million ounces — by the end of March from just 6.84 tonnes at the end of January, according to the International Monetary Fund and Mexico’s central bank.
Gold has gained 11pc this year, driven by concern over eurozone debt and the unrest in the Arab world, as well as by the US dollar’s 7.6pc decline against a basket of currencies.
Sergio Martin, chief economist for HSBC in Mexico, said the government probably saw gold as a highly liquid asset that would reduce exposure to the falling greenback.
"They’re probably thinking that getting out of dollars and into gold makes sense because we know the dollar has some trend to depreciate in the near future at least," said Mr Martin.
"I don’t think they’re going to lose money with this."
Silver prices were down $3.48 to $39.10, almost wiping out April’s gains and off 21pc from recent highs.
A volatile US dollar and news of an official €78bn bailout of Portugal were not enough to buoy gold and silver.
Both metals were trying to find support levels in early trading but momentum selling dragged them lower.
(Editor’s note: The headline of this article and the article itself is misleading. Soros did not “offload(s) his large holding” rather there were unsubstantiated and unconfirmed rumours from unidentified sources that Soros’ fund had been selling some of their gold and silver ETF holdings. A more accurate account of the Soros gold rumour (including the actual Wall Street Journal article and Bloomberg follow up can be read here. It is unfortunate that the precious metal markets are so rarely covered in the non specialist financial press and when they are they are often covered in a simplistic and unbalanced manner.
(Irish Independent) — China needs to think bigger than gold when it opens $3 trillion treasure chest
You know the feeling, you have $3 trillion (€2.02tn) in foreign currency burning a hole in your pocket and you are itching to spend. But on what? A mountain of gold, a sea of oil or a pile of paper?
So far China has chosen paper, especially in the form of US treasury bills.
But comments this week by China’s central bank chief that the country’s foreign exchange reserves exceed reasonable requirements, and local media reports that Beijing was considering setting up investment funds in energy and precious metals, again raise the question about what the country can do with its money.
The size of the issue is staggering — in the first three months of the year China’s reserves grew by $197bn to $3.05 trillion.
At first glance, investing in gold, which is at record highs, or oil, which has rallied for each of the past eight months, makes sense.
Gold has thousands of years of history as a store of value, but no nation has ever looked at oil as a way to diversify foreign exchange holdings, only as a strategic resource in case of war or disaster.
There is a very good reason for that — unlike gold which can sit in a vault indefinitely, oil degrades once it has been pumped out of the ground and a tank of crude would be essentially worthless after 20 years.
Diverting even 10pc of the nation’s mostly dollar-denominated treasure chest into commodities would cause huge ripples, and risk fuelling Beijing’s current bugbear — inflation.
"These are very big numbers, but how can China get into these markets without driving them to incredible levels? Any sniff that they are actually doing this would send prices through the roof," said Jonathan Barratt, managing director of Commodity Broking Services in Sydney.
One-tenth, or $300bn, could buy 200 million ounces of gold or 6,400 tonnes — more than twice the amount mined globally every year. In terms of oil, they could buy 2.68 billion barrels, enough to power the world for a month.
Beijing might be more willing to risk disrupting the bullion market than one which would have a greater direct impact on the lives of ordinary Chinese people.
"Inflation is perceived as a real threat to social stability in China and anything that risks higher prices, especially of basic staples like food and energy, will not be tolerated," Mr Barratt said.
"Gold falls well outside the basic need criteria and the authorities would probably turn a blind eye to a super bubbly bullion market."
The most recent data from the World Gold Council showed that China held about 1,054 tonnes of gold — less than 1.6pc of its foreign currency reserves.
The US, the world’s top gold hoarder, has more than 8,100 tonnes of the metal, equivalent to 75pc of its foreign currency reserves.
The bullion market, like most other commodities, is highly sensitive to China’s intentions. In February last year, a report on a Russian website, ‘Rough & Polished’, that China would buy nearly 200 tonnes of gold from the International Monetary Fund sent prices jumping, despite the most flimsy sourcing.
The report proved to be unfounded, but any official comment on how China might expand its gold holding would send gold bugs into paroxysms of ecstasy.
"Diversification of foreign reserves is certainly a worthy idea," said Lu Feng, professor of economics at the China Centre for Economic Research at Beijing University.
"However, the experience in the past few years shows that the endeavour could be very difficult; the scale of the foreign reserve is so humongous that the prices of anything that the state showed an interest in purchasing with the reserve would go up."
He said those price rises, even if the purchase was successful, meant the state might end up losing even more money than if it was to hold on to the currency.
China will need to think bigger than energy and precious metals if they want to succeed in diversifying.
In February, the country’s top money manager warned of the risks of pushing too much money into commodities.
"Some have argued that we should buy oil, buy gold, buy iron ore, or even buy into companies and land. But it is much easier said than done," Yi Gang, head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said.
China has already been an aggressive player chasing investment opportunities in resource firms.
Recently, Minmetals Resources, a unit of China’s biggest metals trading company, bid unsuccessfully for Africa-focussed copper miner Equinox; while Chinalco bought 9pc of global miner Rio Tinto and has also been active in oil and coal.
"The question is whether to buy materials or invest in resources. If the government went to buy materials, it would hike the prices, which would be counter-productive," said Shi Heqing, an analyst at Antaike, a state-backed consultancy based in Beijing.
"The more sensible way is probably equity investment in resources companies, but not necessarily to seek a majority shareholding."
But with state champions and privately owned firms on the acquisition path and its existing sovereign wealth fund worth $300bn hungry for ways to secure supply and hedge against rising commodity prices, more investment vehicles risk competition against each other for the same assets.
"From the point of view of investment structure, should funds be set up to invest in energy and precious metals in the next 30 to 50 years? Absolutely," said Dong Tao, chief regional economist at Credit Suisse.
"With $3 trillion, China should invest in every possible asset. It can probably put $200bn to $300bn in each. Whatever they buy, it’s better than buying US Treasuries.
(Bloomberg) — Chavez to Take on ‘Mafia’ With Venezuelan Gold Investment
Venezuela will seek investment in the country’s gold industry to boost production of the metal as illegal miners account for almost half the country’s output.
Venezuela is producing “only” 11 metric tons of gold a year and alleged illegal miners extract another 10 to 11 tons a year, President Hugo Chavez said. The government will label the metal “strategic” and set geographical limits for its production in the country, he said.
“The gold mafia is taking it, and the state has to act,” Chavez said today on state television. “We have to look for investors to increase production with a new vision. We can’t just depend on one company.”
Venezuela is facing international arbitration over nationalized gold assets from two companies including Crystallex International Corp., a Canadian gold producer. The Toronto-based company’s stock plunged as much as 43 percent on Feb. 7 when it received a letter saying the Venezuelan government had terminated its Las Cristinas gold contract.
Vancouver-based Rusoro Mining Ltd. expects to quadruple its output of gold in Venezuela by 2013 after the government in August relaxed export limits to 50 percent from 30 percent.
Gold for immediate delivery extended declines today, falling 2.9 percent to $1,473.10 an ounce at 4:50 p.m. New York time.
(Bloomberg) — ‘Elephants’ Contribute to Slump in Silver Prices, Gartman Says
Fund managers are getting more sell signals in silver as “elephants” contribute to the metal’s bear-market slump, said economist Dennis Gartman.
Silver futures slumped as much as 25 percent since touching a 30-year high of $49.845 an ounce on April 25 after Comex owner CME Group Ltd. raised margin requirements by 84 percent in less than two weeks. A bear market is defined by some investors as a decline of 20 percent or more. The Wall Street Journal this week reported billionaire investor George Soros’s fund sold precious metal holdings because of a reduced risk of deflation.
“There are elephants playing enormous games and we mice would do well to stay out of the way,” Gartman said today in his Suffolk, Virginia-based Gartman Letter. “Long only funds, oft times driven by rather simple models of moving averages and the like, are getting sell signal after sell signal after enormous sell signal.”
Silver for July delivery fell as much as 5.2 percent to $37.33 an ounce on Comex and traded at $37.92 by 7:22 a.m. in New York. The metal surged 57 percent this year through April. Spot prices rose to a record $49.79 on April 25 in London.
There was “a lot of disappointment in the market” after prices failed to remain above the $49.80 area, Afshin Nabavi, a senior vice president at MKS Finance SA, a bullion refiner in Geneva, said today. The metal’s plunge has taken prices below the 50-day moving average, a signal to some investors and traders that declines may continue.
After silver’s surge accelerated from mid-March through April, “the 50 percent to 62 percent retracement should have offered support between $39.60 and $41.50,” Gartman said, referring to levels singled out in so-called Fibonacci analysis. “Obviously ‘the box’ has not held.”
In technical analysis, investors and analysts study charts of trading patterns and prices to predict changes in a security, commodity, currency or index. Fibonacci analysis is based on the theory that prices tend to drop or climb by certain percentages after reaching a high or low.