Gold & Silver Daily

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

The gold rally that began in Far East trading on their Thursday morning got capped at, or shortly after, the London a.m. gold fix---and then once the COMEX opened, that was that.  By the close of London trading at 11 a.m. EST, the not-for-profit sellers had the gold price back in the box---and from there it chopped quietly sideways into 5:15 p.m. close of electronic trading.

The high and low fix were reported as $1,219.90 and $1,203.40 in the April contract.

Gold finished the Thursday session in New York at $1,209.20 spot, up $5.00 from Wednesday's close.  Net volume was pretty decent at around 123,000 contracts, about a third more than Wednesday's volume.

Silver traded with a positive bias until shortly after 3 p.m. Hong Kong time---and then away it went to the upside, with the high tick coming around 10 a.m. GMT in London.  From there "da boyz" worked their magic in the same fashion as they did in gold---and from 11 a.m. EST onwards the silver price chopped sideways into the close.

The high and lows ticks were recorded by the CME Group as $16.86 and $16.49 in the March contract.  Net volume was pretty chunky at 45,000 contracts.

Silver was closed yesterday at $16.53 spot, down a half a cent from Wednesday.  Net volume was way up there at 45,000 contracts.

Platinum also got capped at 10 a.m. GMT in London---and it was down hill until its New York low, which came at 2:00 p.m. EST on the dot.  The price didn't do much after that, closing at $1,171 spot, up two bucks on the day.  It was up over $20 at one point until "da boyz" showed up.

Palladium chopped higher until 9 a.m. or so in New York---and by 10:30 a.m. most of its gains had gone the way of the Dodo bird as well.  Palladium finished the Thursday session at $810 spot, up 3 dollars on the day.

The dollar index closed late on Wednesday afternoon in New York at 94.20.  It traded sideways until shortly after 9 a.m. in London---and then rolled over with a vengeance.  "Gentle hands" were there to prevent it from touching the 94.00 level for the umpteenth time this week---and by the time the HFT boyz were done with it, the 95.34 high tick was in at 1 p.m. EST.  It faded a handful of basis points into the close, but finished at 95.27---and up an eye-watering 106 basis points on the day.

It should obvious to all except the willfully blind that someone hit the buy the dollar/sell the precious metals button to prevent the former from heading south---and the latter from heading north.  However, if you check the precious metal charts, gold and silver got a lot of help heading lower once the COMEX opened, because they weren't falling fast enough to suit someone.  The engineered price declines in those two metals ended at 11 a.m. EST, while the dollar index was still rallying.

I've been commenting  for a week or so about the "gentle hands" at the 94.00 level.  Here's the 3-month dollar index---and you can see that those "gentle hands" have been busy for a lot longer than that.

The gold stocks gapped up a bit at the open---and then chopped quietly higher, before turning lower at 1 p.m., which was the time that the rally in the dollar index ended.  From there they chopped lower, giving back about a percent of their gains, as the HUI closed up 1.11 percent.

The silver equities also gapped up at the open, but then traded in a wide range either side of unchanged---and Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed down 0.44 percent.

The first part of the CME's Daily Delivery Report showed that 37 gold and zero silver contracts were posted for delivery today---and that completes the February delivery month in gold as well as silver.  The largest short/issuer was HSBC USA with 33 contracts and, once again, it was JPMorgan as the biggest long/stopper with 34 contracts in its client account.

The First Day Notice figures for March delivery in silver showed that 1,252 contracts were posted for delivery on Monday.  The two short/issuers of note were Canada's Scotiabank with 917 contracts---and Jefferies with 268 contracts.  There were about 20 long/stoppers in total, but the biggest three were JPMorgan, Citigroup and Credit Suisse with 658, 175 and 158 contracts---and all for their respective in-house [proprietary] trading accounts.

The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report that contains all the above data, is here.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Thursday trading session showed that gold open interest for February is now zero, as is silver.  March open interest in gold is only 173 contracts---and I expect that to be much lower by the end of Monday trading.  Silver open interest for March is currently at 3,185 contract---but minus the 1,252 posted above.  I also expect silver's March o.i. to be quite a bit lower at the end of tomorrow's trading session with, or without, any new deliveries being posted.

There were no reported changes in GLD---and as of 9:51 p.m. EST yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV, either.

Joshua Gibbons, the "Guru of the SLV Bar List," updated his website with what happened over at the Internet site for the reporting period ending on Wednesday---and this is what he had to say.

"Analysis of the 25 February 2015 bar list, and comparison to the previous week's list.
5,406,583.7 troy ounces were added (all to Brinks London), no bars were removed or had serial number changes.

"The bars added were from: Kazakhmys (1.1M oz), Solar Applied Materials (0.9M oz), Krasnoyarsk (0.9M oz), Met-Mex (0.6M oz), and 18 others."

"As of the time that the bar list was produced, it was overallocated 1.9 oz---and all daily changes are reflected on the bar list."

For the second day in a row, there was no sales report from the U.S. Mint.

There was no in/out activity worth mentioning in gold at the COMEX-approved depositories on Wednesday---and zero in/out activity in silver.

I don't have a whole lot of stories to post at this point in the evening, but that may have changed by midnight.


¤ Critical Reads

U.S. Posts First Negative Inflation Print Since Lehman on Gas Price Plunge

As previewed earlier today, January CPI data was historic in that, 6 years after Lehman, the US just reported its first negative headline CPI print, with overall inflation, or rather deflation, in January coming at -0.1%, in line with expectations, and down from the 0.8% in December. On a monthly basis, CPI tumbled by 0.7% from December, driven almost entirely by collapsing energy prices. Excluding the Great financial crisis, one has to go back a few years to find the last time the US posted annual headline deflation.... all the way back to August 1955, or just about the time Mary McFly was trying not to dance with his mother.

Here is the culprit for the plunge: "The energy index fell 9.7 percent as the gasoline index fell 18.7 percent in January, the sharpest in a series of seven consecutive declines. The gasoline decrease was overwhelmingly the cause of the decline in the all items index, which would have risen 0.1 percent had the gasoline index been  unchanged. The fuel oil index also fell sharply, and the index for natural gas turned down, although the electricity index rose."

Today's first news item was posted on the Zero Hedge website at 8:52 a.m. EST on Thursday morning---and it's courtesy of Dan Lazicki.  Elliot Simon sent a similar story from the Internet site yesterday morning---and it's headlined "Inflation trend turns negative for first time since 2009".


Goldman Workers Reaped $2 Billion From 2008 Awards Last Year

While Goldman Sachs Group Inc. employees may get less compensation than in the past, many cashed in last year for a payday they’ve been awaiting since the depths of the financial crisis.

Employees exercised options worth $2.03 billion in 2014. More than 96 percent of the contracts were granted as part of 2008 compensation. Last year marked the first time bankers were able to take advantage of those awards.

Goldman Sachs’s stock has more than doubled since it granted 36 million options in December 2008 to give top performers incentive to stay. The bank had been forced to slash compensation costs that year, as a global credit crisis endangered the firm and pushed its shares down 61 percent.

The more-than $2 billion total disclosed in a regulatory filing this week is the pretax gain from exercising the options. Recipients -- who can choose to keep the stock or convert it to cash -- may include former employees who left the New York-based company after receiving the options.

This Bloomberg offering appeared on their Internet site at 3:00 a.m. Denver time yesterday morning---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for sharing it with us.


Greenspan: "The Stock Market is Great", But the Economy Feels Like Its in "The Late Stages of the Great Depression"

While conflicting economic data leaves hope for both bulls and bears, Alan Greenspan warns that, unlike Yellen, "U.S. economic growth is not strong." He then slays another pillar - suggesting the exuberant job growth is anything but (as he focuses on weak productivity as he pinpoints entitlements as "crowding out capital investment" in America.

The maestro then breaks the golden rule of central bankers and explains how The Fed was, in fact, the main driver of the P/E multiple expansion in stocks; and when asked if this ends as badly as last time? He concludes "It depends...When real interest rates start to move up, that's when the crisis could hit."

The interview is somewhat stunning in its honesty (for a central banker) as he warns global "effective demand is extraordinarily weak - tantamount to the late stages of the great depression."

How about being in the early stages of a depression, Alan?  This story, along with an embedded 9:29 minute CNBC video clip, showed up on the Zero Hedge website at 5:50 p.m. EST yesterday afternoon---and it's worth your while.  I thank Dan Lazicki for his second offering in today's column.


Grand Central: That Didn’t Go Well, Madame Chair

The Wall Street Journal’s Daily Report on Global Central Banks for Thursday, February 26, 2015

Federal Reserve officials might have felt comfortable after the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 that the central bank had escaped the rewrite of the nation’s financial regulatory laws with most of its powers intact. After Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s testimony before the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday, they might not be so confident anymore.

“Fed reforms are needed and I for one believe Fed reforms are coming,” Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas) said in a statement before Ms. Yellen’s second day of semi-annual testimony before Congress.

That was the nice part.

Ms. Yellen was skewered by House Republicans — some observers felt rudely – who accused the Fed chief of politicizing the institution by meeting regularly with Obama Administration officials and congressional Democrats and speaking out on the problem of inequality, an issue Democrats hold as their own. Their broader point was that the Fed shouldn’t claim its independence is sacred when it pushes back against legislative proposals from the right that would open it to more scrutiny from the legislative branch of government.

Jon Hilsenrath, the author of this piece, is widely known to be the unofficial mouthpiece for the Fed at The Wall Street Journal---and the story should be read with that in mind---and it is worth reading.  I found it in today's edition of the King Report.


Reforming the Fed: Who’s Right; Who’s Wrong?

Democrats on the other hand, despite overwhelming proof that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has actually allowed Wall Street to grow systemically more dangerous and more corrupt since its passage, is irrationally wedded to this legislation.

No amount of evidence will change the Democrats’ position on Dodd-Frank. JPMorgan gambling with hundreds of billions of bank depositors’ money in the London Whale fiasco where $6.2 billion got flushed down the toilet will not change their mind. Cartel activity among the big banks in the interest rate market, precious metals market, foreign currency market will not change their mind. Bank chat rooms called “The Bandits Club,” “The Mafia” and “The Cartel,” where brazen market rigging is alleged to have occurred will not change their mind. Endless criminal investigations and multi-billion dollar settlements will not change their mind. Scandal after scandal destroying public trust in Wall Street and its regulators will not change their mind.

Then there is the New York Fed – the least appropriate body in all the world to be simultaneously carrying out monetary policy via instructions from the Federal Open Market Committee with the involvement of the biggest Wall Street banks while simultaneously attempting to engage in regulatory oversight of the same banks.

This short, but worthwhile commentary put in an appearance on the Internet site on Thursday sometime---and I thank Richard O'Mara for bringing it to our attention.


For propaganda & "democracy promotion": State Dept seeks budget to counter Russia Today

Citing Russia Today’s influence, Secretary of State John Kerry asked U.S. lawmakers for more money for propaganda and “democracy promotion” programs around the world.

“Russia Today (sic) can be heard in English, do we have an equivalent that can be heard in Russian? It’s a pretty expensive proposition. They are spending huge amounts of money,” Kerry told the House Appropriations Subcommittee, apparently forgetting that Voice of America had been broadcasting in Russian since 1947.

He had also raised the topic earlier in the day, before the House Foreign Affairs committee, where Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), opened the hearing with the allegation that “Russia’s military aggression is matched only by its propaganda.” To Kerry’s approval, Royce went on to claim that “Russia is spending more than $500 million annually to mislead audiences, sow divisions, and push conspiracy out over RT television.”

Royce’s remarks echo the claim made by Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) chief Andrew Lack last month, when he listed “Russia Today” (sic) in the same breath as ISIS and Boko Haram as one of the challenges facing his agency.

Well, dear reader, here's the issue as I see it---and I can't believe that I'm actually saying this at my age, but RT has been the only credible news voice out there---and has been for years.  All one has to do is compare the coverage of the Ukraine/Crimea/Flight MH17 situation from RT and similar Russian sources, alongside the 'coverage' by the rest of the Western media, which includes---sadly---Canada's media.   The thoughtful public that's looking for hard news has its eyes and ears open on the Internet---and they have delivered their verdict---and the correct one I might add.  How did it come to this?  This Russia Today news item put in an appearance on their website at four minutes past midnight on their Thursday morning, which was 4:04 p.m. in Washington.  I thank reader P.F. for sending it our way---and it's certainly worth reading.


‘U.S. spends millions on overseas propaganda, but no one is buying it’

Despite the U.S.’ bottomless PR budget to influence overseas, people are not attracted by what’s on offer as they are tired of U.S. interventionism, exceptionalism, and the bombing of their countries, Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute told RT.

U.S. Secretary of the State, John Kerry, said he is concerned the U.S. is falling behind when it comes to putting out information. He stressed that RT’s influence is growing worldwide and the U.S. doesn’t have“an equivalent that can be heard in Russian.” Claiming that RT has huge costs he asked for money to be provided for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) in the U.S. RT’s budget for 2015 is $220 million while the budget of the BBG is $721 million. Kerry also heaped praise on the appointment of Andrew Lack as a head of BBG who recently put RT into the same context as ISIS and Boko Haram.

RT: John Kerry insinuated the U.S. is losing the public relations war with Russia. What do you make of that?

Daniel McAdams: The numbers speak louder than words: $700 and some million versus $200 and some, maybe up to $300 million for RT. I think the problem the U.S. has is they have an unlimited advertising budget, but the product they’re selling is not very attractive overseas. People are tired of U.S. interventionism; they’re tired of U.S. exceptionalism; they’re tired of the U.S. bombing their country – if you’re a Somali, you don’t care about listening to a radio broadcast from the U.S., you just wish the U.S. would stop bombing you.

This Russia Today news item showed up in my in-box courtesy of Roy Stephens long after I'd written the comments at the bottom of the previous story.  This RT piece appeared on their Internet site at 12:24 p.m. on their Thursday afternoon---and it's worth reading as well.


Bailed-out RBS offers staff ‘outrageous’ bonuses despite £3.5 bn losses in 2014

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) chief Ross McEwan has conceded the 80 percent state-owned bank will pay staff lucrative bonuses from a pool of £421 million, despite the fact it faced losses of £3.5 billion in 2014.

McEwan took control of the scandal-ridden bank in 2012 after it became insolvent and received a £45 billion bailout at UK taxpayers’ expense.

The RBS chief told BBC Radio 4 he would not be taking a £1 million bonus this year. 2015 marks the second year he has declined to accept the annual financial reward.

Commenting on bonuses awarded to other RBS staff, McEwan admitted people are “quite right” to view them as “outrageous.”

He would be right about that, dear reader.  This Russia Today news item, courtesy of Roy Stephens, put in an appearance on their Internet site at 4:26 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday afternoon.


Cyprus praises Russia, lets in warships

The Cypriot president has, on a visit to Moscow, showcased his country’s economic dependence on Russia and the emergence of an increasing threat to E.U. and U.S. unity on sanctions.

Nicos Anastasiades used the trip, on Wednesday (25 February), to formalise an accord for Russian warships to use Cypriot military bases, and to speak out against EU policy on Ukraine.

Referring to Russia as a “great country”, the 68-year old politician said: “I think it’s increasingly felt by our European counterparts that action against such a great country as Russia leads to countermeasures on the part of Russia which have negative results, not only for Cyprus, but also for a number of other European Union countries”.

This interesting news item, filed from Brussels, appeared on the Internet site at 8:35 a.m. EST Europe time on their Thursday morning---and I thank South African reader B.V. for sending it our way.


Insight: West's offer to rebuild Ukraine faces reality check

Western powers are preparing what they say may be their most potent weapon against Moscow's interference in Ukraine - a multi billion dollar aid package to rebuild a near-bankrupt state and realize the European dream cherished by many Ukrainians.

There is just one problem: foreign governments and international financing institutions are not willing to pour money into a dysfunctional state. Only this week the businessman brought in by the new authorities to clean up the tax service was himself suspended pending a corruption inquiry.

Donors say the former Soviet republic, crippled by war and corruption, is unable or unwilling even to identify how many roads, power plants and schools its 45 million people need, let alone meet new European standards for farms and factories.

"There's strong resistance because many people in various ways benefited from the old, inefficient and largely corrupt system," said Kalman Mizsei, the head of the E.U.'s advisory mission to Ukraine.

This Reuters article, co-filed from Brussels and Washington, showed up on their website at 11:42 a.m. EST Thursday morning---and it's worth skimming.  My thanks go out to Jim Skinner for passing it along.


The world's top 10 gold producers

In 2014, preliminary estimated gold production by the top publicly-traded and non state-owned gold mining companies amounted to 30M oz, in line with the 2013 totals.

Three out of the 10 miners suffered a decline in their attributable gold output while six of them achieved growth.

With 6.25M oz of gold produced in 2014, Canada's Barrick Gold Corp. holds first place in global ranking, well ahead of its competitors.

Compared to 2013's 7.17M oz, Barrick’s gold output declined by 13%, mainly because of significant drop in output at its Cortez Mine (-33%), as well as a number of gold mines in Australia and USA which Barrick sold during the year.

This interesting gold-related article appeared on the Internet site yesterday some time---and my thanks go out to Dan Lazicki for finding it for us.


Gold 'Absolutely' a Safe Haven - BMO Analyst

Kitco News speaks with BMO’s Jessica Fung to see how she sees gold and silver set up for the coming year.

Based on her research, Fung says she expects U.S. dollar strength, which has hindered upside potential for metals prices, to continue. “In this environment, where we expect the U.S. dollar to continue to strengthen, I think we’re going to maintain a very high gold-to-silver ratio,” she says, adding that this increasing ratio hasn’t allowed silver to keep up with any gold price upswings.

Looking to global uncertainty, Fung says gold is ‘absolutely’ a safe-haven. “It always will be and that is what it will take to drive prices higher,” she adds.

It's scarey when they use the word 'analyst' to describe people like this.  She's just another mouthpiece spouting  things about precious metals that she has no real understanding of.  This 4:08 minute video clip appeared on the Internet site yesterday---and it's another contribution from Dan L.


Mark O'Byrne: 12 reasons why Ritholtz and many experts are mistaken on gold

GoldCore's Mark O'Byrne has replied conscientiously to fund manager and financial writer Barry Ritholtz's ridicule of gold investment and gold investors, "12 Rules of Goldbuggery," which can be found at Rithotlz's Internet site.

O'Byrne's reply is headlined "12 Reasons Why Ritholtz and Many Experts Are Mistaken On Gold" and it was posted on the Internet site yesterday.

I'm grateful to Mark for riding to the defence of us "gold enthusiasts"---but I personally wouldn't have dignified Ritholz's commentary with a rebuttal of any kind.  No feedback at all is worse punishment that the reasoned and learned response of Mr O'Byrne.  But I salute him, thank him---and owe him a beer if we ever meet.  The links to both are embedded in this GATA release.


Koos Jansen: 1973 EU Central Bank’s Traded Gold in Secret at Free Market Price

The more I read about it the more clear it becomes that the euro, at first a monetary block in Europe, was spawned right after the U.S. abandoned gold in 1971. The European Community (EC) block was the biggest threat for the US hegemony in the seventies, if Europe would unite it could break the U.S. dollar. Europe’s aggregated gold reserves were (and still are) greater than U.S. holdings, a crucial reserve asset when fully utilized.

Soon after the inception of the Bretton Woods system in 1944 the U.S. needed to suppress the price of gold because they printed far more dollars than they had gold to back it up, finally the suppression failed in 1968 when the London Gold Pool collapsed. What followed was a two-tier system; monetary gold was valued at a fixed price far below the free market price of gold.

The two-tier system created by the American monetary wizards was anything but sustainable; foreign central banks could buy gold at the U.S. Treasury for dollars at a discount, subsequently selling the gold on the free market for a higher price, though the agreement was central banks would not trade with the private market.

Because the dollar was overvalued (against gold) European central banks exchanged billions of dollars for thousands of tonnes of gold, draining U.S. gold reserves.

This excellent commentary by Koos appeared on the Singapore website yesterday---and the first reader through the door with it was Dan Lazicki.  It's certainly worth reading.


Frank Homes: China’s Love for Gold: You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

The Chinese New Year, which [kicked off last week], is the largest and most widespread cultural event in mainland China, bringing with it massive consumer spending and gift-giving. During this week alone, an estimated 3.6 billion people in the China region travel by road, rail and air in the largest annual human migration.

Imagine half a dozen Thanksgivings and Christmases all rolled into one mega-holiday, and you might begin to get a sense of just how significant the Chinese New Year festivities and traditions are.

According to the National Retail Federation, China spent approximately $100 billion on retail and restaurants during the Chinese New Year in 2014. That’s double what Americans shelled out during the four-day Thanksgiving and Black Friday spending period.

As I’ve discussed on numerous occasions, one of the most popular gifts to give and receive during this time is gold—a prime example of the Love Trade.

There's nothing really new in this piece that you haven't already heard about in this column, or elsewhere---and Frank is just putting his spin on mostly old news.  But, having said that, his 'spin' is worth reading---and it was posted on the Internet site yesterday---and I thank Dan Lazicki for his final contribution to today's column.


Lawrence Williams: Russia cools gold reserve additions in January

The latest announcement from the Russian Central Bank shows, that after several months of continuing high levels of additions to its gold reserves last year, it made no new gold purchases in January, although it did offload a substantial volume of U.S. Treasuries from its foreign reserves in December.

There had been speculation late last year that Russia would, in fact, sell some of the gold it had been accumulating (171 tonnes last year) to help protect its currency in light of U.S. and E.U. sanctions and the sharp drop in energy prices which had adversely impacted the nation’s exports.

However, this proved not to be the case and it looks as though any transactions to help mitigate the decline in the ruble was accomplished through the sale of U.S. Treasuries. Altogether, over the whole of 2014, Russia appears to have disposed of more than $50 billion in its holdings of U.S. Treasuries to support the ruble and to buy gold. Some $22 billion of these sales was undertaken in December when the Central Bank bought 18.7 tonnes of gold worth around $7.5 billion.

I neglected to post this story when Lawrie first put it up on the Internet site four days ago, as I had my own piece on it.  But, having read it for a second time, it's worth your while if you have the time.


Brien Lundin: Don't expect much from Justice probe of gold market rigging

The good news is that manipulation of the gold market has finally come under investigation by the authorities, with the U.S. Justice Department opening up an investigation into 10 major banks.

The bad news is that the investigation is centering around potential rigging of the daily price fixings for gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. I know that a number of my colleagues in the hard-money industry may disagree, but I don't think this amounts to a hill of beans in the big picture.

My greater concern is the level of longer-term price manipulation, being accomplished by either the central banks or deep-pocketed institutions, acting either in concert or simply with the same motivations. So while you'll see a lot of outrage in the blogosphere over this investigation, unless it turns up documentation of a broader strategy of manipulation, there'll be nothing to see here. Move on.

I couldn't agree more.  The price management scheme is COMEX-centric---and has to do with position limits, high-frequency trading and the like---something Ted Butler has been going on about for a couple of decades.  The CFTC's ex-chairman Gary Gensler wanted to put a fork in all this, but was told in no uncertain terms to butt out. The fixes themselves are mostly irrelevant.  This part of Brian's monthly news letter is posted in the clear in this GATA release from yesterday---and the rest of it is worth reading as well.



¤ The Funnies

One thing I noticed when I was in all the top tourist spots around Arizona---old Scottsdale, Sedona, Jerome and Grand Canyon etc---was the quality of the native arts and crafts offered for sale in the touristy-type stores.  I've been around, but I'd never seen the likes of this before.  I took the first four photos in Hopi House at the Grand Canyon on Day 2 of our stay there.  The quality was top drawer, with prices to match, of course.   These photos only hint at what's available.  Don't forget the 'click to enlarge' feature.  All these photos were shot indoors, of course, using only available light.

The photo below is a Navajo sand painting---and the artistry and time that goes into this and the other art works shown here, is staggering.

There were half a dozen mule deer feeding alongside the road on our way out of the park.  This was taken from the rental car---and from point blank range, as there's no depth-of-field worth mentioning.  I hardly had to crop it all.  They had very strange colourations for deer.  Most deer are various shades of one colour.  Not these ones---and I thought there was something wrong with my camera when I first viewed them on my computer screen.  This variety of mule deer is much smaller than the ones we have back here in Alberta.  These were of the "very large dog" variety.

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¤ The Wrap

A few words regarding the news stories this week on the Justice Department and the CFTC investigating ten large banks in connection with precious metals manipulation. The stories seem to suggest some urgency or new development, but the investigation has been ongoing for some time and appears to be centered on the London Fix.

I suppose some wrongdoing could eventually be uncovered, as whenever big bankers convene in private, it is time to have a firm grasp on one’s wallet. But any precious metals investigation not centered on the COMEX is a sideshow.

Needless to say, I hope I’m reading it all wrong, but there is very little chance the CFTC is about to do a turnabout and address the concentrated short position in COMEX silver. The same goes for the DoJ. Both agencies have looked at this matter, then looked away and aren’t about to look again, much to their joint shame. Physical investment buying will break the back of the manipulation, not some wimpy and bought and paid for regulators. - Silver analyst Ted Butler: 25 February 2015

What was gained in late Far East and early London trading on Thursday, was all taken back by JPMorgan et al as the London trading session went along---but the real hatchet job on silver and gold came at the start of trading on the COMEX in New York---and ended at the London close.  They even had the audacity to close silver for a loss.

You may feel that what happened to the precious metals occurred entirely in response to what was happening to the almighty dollar, but a fair and objective examination of the precious metal price charts---with the minor exception of platinum---compared to the dollar index itself, will not bear that out.

Please don't forget for one minute that we're up against all the money, power---and evil in the world.  The "evil" part came during a chat I had with Jim Rickards in San Antonio last September.

Here are the 6-month chart for all four precious metals, updated with Thursday's price/volume data.

And as I write this paragraph, the London open is about fifteen minutes away---and the tiny rallies in both gold and silver that occurred in early afternoon trading in Hong Kong have already vanished---and all four precious metals are trading basically unchanged from there respective closes on Thursday in New York.  Net gold volume is just under 14,000 contracts---and net silver volume is just shy of 3,000 contracts, with virtually all of it in the new front month, which is May.  The dollar index is trading slightly lower---and is currently down 12 basis points.  Nothing to see here, please move along.

Today we get two reports of interest.  The first thing will be the gold withdrawals from the Shanghai Gold Exchange---and the second is the long-awaited Commitment of Traders Report---and I'll have all that for you in tomorrow's column.

And as I hit the send button on today's effort at 5:28 a.m. EST this morning, I note that all four precious metals got sold down a bit at the London open, but all are making some attempt at recovering at the moment.  Net volume in gold is now up to just about 23,000 contracts---and silver's net volume checks in at just over 5,500 contracts.  Not much to see here.  The dollar index is continuing to slide---and is currently down 14 basis points.

I have no idea what the rest of the trading session will bring.  But since it's Friday---and the last trading day of the month, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the powers that be wanted to end the day, week and month on a sour note.  But as I always say at times like this, I'd love to be spectacularly wrong.

That's it for the day.  Enjoy your weekend, or what's left of it if you leave west of the International Date Line---and I'll see you here on Saturday.

Ed Steer