Gold & Silver Daily
"The final days of the current delivery month are getting interesting"
 

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

Once again the gold price got sold down in Far East trading on their Tuesday morning, with the low tick, such as it was, coming somewhere during the Hong Kong lunch hour.  The subsequent rally got capped at 11 a.m. GMT in London---and from there it sold off until shortly after the equity markets opened in New York.  From that point gold rallied anew, before trading more or less sideways from the 2 p.m. EDT until the close of electronic trading.

The low and high tick were reported as $1,184.70 and $1,194.50 in the April contract---and barely worth the effort of digging up.

The gold price closed in New York on Tuesday at $1,193.20 spot, up $3.90 on the day.  Gross volume was just over 215,000 contracts, but it all netted out to only 108,000 contracts, which was a couple of thousand more than Monday's net volume.

Silver's price pattern was somewhat similar to gold's but the 'rallies' weren't anywhere near as robust.  Silver traded in a 20 cent range for the entire Tuesday session---and the low and high ticks aren't worth the effort to look up.

Silver finished the Tuesday trading day at $16.94 spot, down 3.5 cents from Monday's close.  Net volume was 28,000 contracts, which was 12,000 contracts less than Monday's volume.

Platinum and palladium had somewhat similar price charts to gold and silver, but platinum's rally off it's 9:40 a.m. EDT low tick was rather anemic---and palladium didn't rally at all.  Platinum closed lower by ten bucks---and palladium was down 14 dollars.  Here are the charts.

The dollar index closed late on Monday afternoon in New York at 96.95---and made it as high as 97.28 by noon Hong Kong time.  It then rolled over and chopped lower until its 96.48 low tick, which came around 8:40 a.m. EDT.  Then it rallied as high as 97.37 or so by shortly after 11:30 a.m. in New York, before giving up some of those gains as the Tuesday afternoon session wore on.  The index finished the session at 97.24---up 29 basis points on the day.

With the gold price itself not doing too much, the gold stocks didn't do much either, as they chopped around unchanged for the entire Tuesday trading session.  The HUI closed down a smallish 0.16 percent.

The silver equities spent the entire day in negative territory, but not by a lot, as Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed down 0.29 percent.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that zero gold and 154 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Thursday.  There were five different short/issuers---and the largest was JPMorgan with 54 contracts out of its client account.  On the long/stopper side it was JPMorgan raping its clients again, as it stopped 133 of those contracts---and the second place finisher doesn't even rate a mention.  Just like in silver eagles, JPM is picking up as much physical silver as it can get its hands on.  I'm sure that Ted Butler will have something to say about it in his mid-week commentary later today.  The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report is here---and it's worth a look, just so you can see the crime in progress.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Tuesday trading session was a bit of a shock in gold, as 373 contracts were added to March open interest---and the total up for delivery now stands at 481 contracts.  Whoever the short/issuers are, they've got three business days left to deliver this metal.

So far this month, only 8 gold contracts have been posted for delivery---and the question that still goes begging an answer is---why?  And in some respects the same thing can be said about the current March open interest in silver.

In silver, March o.i. fell by 258 contracts---and is now down to 346 contracts remaining---minus the 154 contracts mentioned above.  The physical metal that these contracts represent has to be delivered in the next three days as well---and it will be interesting to see who the short/issuers are, as it's a lead-pipe cinch that JPMorgan will be the long/stopper on most of it.

There were no reported changes in GLD yesterday---and as of 9:26 p.m. EDT yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV, either.

There was another sales report from the U.S. Mint yesterday.  They reported selling 4,000 gold eagles---500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes---and another 181,000 silver eagles.

The U.S. Mint appears to be producing close to its maximum 24/7 capacity of silver eagles, as it's churning out 116,000 per day---based on a 7-day week.  And since it's not the public investor that's buying them, the question then remains as to whom it might be---and I'm not prepared to dispute Ted Butler's reasoning that it's JPMorgan.  If not them, than one or more very large buyers of that caliber.

Over at the COMEX-approved depositories on Monday, there was no gold reported received, but 25,720 troy ounces were reported removed.  Almost all of it came out of the vaults of Canada's Scotiabank.  The link to that activity is here.

In silver, 600,967 troy ounces were received---and 65,541 troy ounces were shipped out.  The link to that action is here.

I have considerably fewer stories today than I did yesterday---and I hope there are some in here that you'll find worth your while.

 

¤ Critical Reads

Consumer Prices Rise Most Since May 2014, Led By Gas Prices and Shelter Costs

Following the first YoY deflation since 2009 in January, February's CPI YoY data managed to scrape its way back to unchanged (very modestly better than the 0.1% drop expected). Consumer prices rose 0.2% MoM - the most since May 2014 with gas prices up MoM for the first time since June. So what is the narrative now: if tumbling gas prices didn't get consumers to spend, rising gas costs will? Ex food and energy, prices rose 0.2% MoM (slightly hotter than the 0.1% rise expected) led by the shelter index (which increased 0.2 percent) accounting for about two-thirds of the monthly increase. The rent continues to be too damn high for most, and finally the BLS is starting to realize this.

MoM, Consumer prices have jumped from the worst drop since Lehman to the biggest jump since May 2014.

This economic news item appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 8:40 a.m. EDT on Tuesday morning---and today's first story is courtesy of reader M.A.

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How Cold Was It This Winter? So Cold That New Home Sales Hit a 7 Year Record!

For a minute there I thought I was reading the National Enquirer. But the Journal was not alone. All the major media outlets were reveling over the news. The Journal went on to say “New-home sales rose to the highest level in seven years in February, a sign of strong demand that could help boost the broader U.S. housing market.”

That’s the ticket! Strong demand! Housing is back, America! Low pay, unqualified borrowers are back, and we’re selling over a half million houses annually!

Behind that headline, a bump in southerly migration joined with the usual random noise in February in other regions to send the number reported by the back slapping, self-congratulatory, Washington-Wall Street media echo chamber, to da moon.

As usual, they were annualizing a monthly, seasonally adjusted, abstract impressionist interpretation of loosely estimated reality. In other words they multiplied the seasonal adjustment error plus the huge sampling error that is a feature of the first release of this data, times 12. To its credit, the WSJ did point out in a later paragraph that “February’s advance estimate came with a margin of error of plus or minus 15.2 percentage points.” 15.2%! Are you kidding me! Why are we even discussing this number?

This is what passes for news in the main stream media these days.  This commentary by Lee Adler appeared on David Stockman's website yesterday sometime---and I thank Roy Stephens for his his first contribution of the day.

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The Verdict Is In, and America's 401(k) Accounts Are a Crashing Failure

For millions of Americans, the 401(k) plan is a miserable failure — it simply is not shielding enough people from financial struggles in their retirements, according to a CNBC analysis.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates the median amount in U.S. 401(k) accounts is a paltry $18,433 and almost 40 percent of workers have less than $10,000 in those instruments.

"In America, when we had disability and defined benefit plans, you actually had an equality of retirement period. Now the rich can retire and workers have to work until they die," Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist at the New School for Social Research, told CNBC.

The business network said millions of Americans approaching retirement are exiting the workforce with savings that "do not even approach what they will need" for even just healthcare.

It you are an American citizen with a 401[k] plan, this is worth reading.  It appeared on the newsmax.com Internet site at 9:00 a.m. EDT on Tuesday---and it's courtesy of West Virginia reader Elliot Simon.

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Mike Maloney: The Day the Internet Died

"February 26, 2015. That was the day that freedom of the internet died." Watch Michael Maloney's latest video update to hear his thoughts on the recent ruling on Net Neutrality.

"We're adopting a solution that won't work to a problem that doesn't exist using legal authority that we don't have." - Ajit Pai

This brief 2:31 minute video from Mike appeared on the youtube.com Internet site yesterday---and it's worth your time.

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Canada's Biggest Oil Casualty to Date: Calgary's Nexen Shutters Oil Trading Desk

Last December, traditionally perma-bullish energy trader Andy Hall shocked the world when he became the first casualty of the oil crash after Phibro, his 113 year old employer then owned by Occidental Petroleum after its sale by Citigroup, would liquidate in the US after it failed to buy a buyer. He wouldn't be the last. Overnight, Nexen Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of China's CNOOC Ltd, reported it too would close its crude oil trading division following a round of job cuts announced last week, four market sources said on Monday.

It appears that unlike money-losing shale producers, who still have some balance sheet capacity to eek out funding for a few more weeks/months of operations and product dumping (which sends prices of oil lower not higher which is what those same producers need), oil traders who largely are self-funded no longer have that luxury, and as a result of the failure of oil to bounce, have no choice but to fold it in.

From ReutersThe Calgary-based company, which was acquired by state-controlled CNOOC in 2013 for $15.1 billion, cut 400 jobs last week in North America and the United Kingdom in response to plunging global oil prices.

Three sources said Nexen was closing down its trading operations worldwide, although the majority of activity takes place in Calgary. The company will continue to market its own crude.

This is another story courtesy of the Zero Hedge website.  It was posted there at 8:22 a.m. EDT on Tuesday morning---and I thank reader M.A. for his second story of the day.

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U.K. to Boost Falklands Defense to Counter Argentina Invasion Fears - Reports

The United Kingdom will bolster its defense in the Falklands amid fears Argentina may increase its military capacity and invade the islands, the Telegraph newspaper reported Tuesday.

In 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a remote British colony in the South Atlantic that Buenos Aires claimed it owned. The armed conflict between the two nations took the lives of 655 Argentinian and 255 British servicemen. The 74-day Falklands war ended when Argentina gave up their bid to control the islands.

U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon will announce troop and equipment reinforcements to the Falklands on Monday, the newspaper reported. The move comes in response to a U.K. Defense Ministry review suggesting an invasion to the islands is likely.

This news item, filed from Moscow, showed up on the sputniknews.com Internet site at 11:09 a.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday morning, which was 3:09 a.m. EDT in Washington.  It's the second offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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More capital controls as France declares war…on cash

French paper Le Parisien didn’t mince words in the headline: “La chasse au cash est lancée”. Basically ‘hunting season on cash is launched’.

Under the auspices of fighting terrorism, France’s Minister of Finance, Monsieur Michel Sapin, has rolled out a series of eight new restrictions aimed specifically at minimizing the use of cash.

Among the new restrictions is a prohibition of making more than €1,000 in cash payments (down from €3,000 before).

Large cash withdrawals exceeding €10,000 per month will also now be monitored and reported to the French authorities.

This news item was embedded in yesterday's edition of the Sovereign Man.  A reader sent me the story the other day---and I can't find it now, so this will have to do.  Simon Black sent it our way.

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Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos wins 15 seats in Andalusia

Podemos, the Spanish anti-austerity party, will be a prominent force in Andalusia’s regional parliament after it won 15 seats in the party’s first election since its ally Syriza triumphed in Greece.

The Socialists, who have held power in Andalusia for more than three decades, will continue to govern the region. Lead by Susana Díaz, they won 35% percent of the vote, earning them 47 seats, shy of an outright majority.

“Andalusians have made their voices heard through the ballot box,” Díaz, 40, said on Sunday as the results came in.

The election held up Spain’s two-party system, albeit in a weakened state. The People’s party came in second with 27% of the vote, or 33 seats, but the party of prime minister Mariano Rajoy was the biggest loser on the day as the result was a steep drop from the 50 seats it won in the 2012 elections.

This news item appeared on theguardian.com website at 1:14 a.m. GMT on Monday morning---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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European Central Bank to ban embattled Greek banks from holding government bonds

The European Central Bank is set to tighten the noose on Greece a day after the president of the Bank denied the institution was “blackmailing” Athens into agreeing to bail-out conditions.

According to reports, the ECB will move to officially ban Greek banks from increasing their holdings of the country’s short-term sovereign debt, in a bid to break a potentially toxic link between lenders and the stricken sovereign.

The restriction will place a further squeeze on the cash-strapped Greek government, which could run out of money to pay wages and pensions by the end of next month.

Speaking to the European Parliament on Monday, Mario Draghi denied the ECB was acting unfairly towards the Leftist government: “We haven’t created any rule for Greece, rules were in place and they’ve been applied,” said Mr Draghi.

This rather brief news item was posted on The Telegraph's website at 9:00 p.m. GMT yesterday evening---and I found it in the wee hours of this morning.  It's definitely worth reading.

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$100bn NATO claim: Serbian NGOs seek compensation for Yugoslavia bombing

Two non-governmental organizations have said NATO should be required to pay compensation for the massive damage inflicted during the 1999 bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

A meeting of the Belgrade Forum for the World of Equals and the Club of Generals and Admirals in Belgrade presented an initiative to hold 28-member NATO financially accountable for the damage that Yugoslavia sustained in the attacks.

Serbian experts put the price tag of the devastation between $60 and $100 billion.

Retired General Jovo Milanovic said that NATO’s military offensive, which was unsanctioned by the United Nations, represented "a violation of all norms of international law that caused enormous material damage to Yugoslavia and huge human casualties,” Tass quoted him as saying.

This very interesting article put in an appearance on the Russia Today website at 12:34 p.m. Moscow time yesterday afternoon---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sharing it with us.

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Some 10,000 miners go on strike in western Ukraine

Some 10,000 miners are taking part in a protest rally in the city of Chervonohrad in western Ukraine’s Lviv Region, all seven mines of the Lvovugol enterprise have been shut down, the Confederation of Free Trade Unions (CFTU) of Ukraine reported Tuesday.

"Ten thousand miners have stopped work and entered a new phase of an early strike. They are demanding that closure of mines be stopped, and are insisting on the resignation of Energy and Coal Industry Minister [Vladimir] Demchishin," chairman of the Independent Trade Union of Ukraine’s Miners Mikhail Volynets said.

Miners are holding posters where their key demands are written: resignation of [Energy and Coal Industry Minister] Demchishin and full repayment of wage arrears for January and February [as of March 24, only 10 million hryvnias out of 95 million have been paid].

This story, filed from Kiev, showed up on the tass.ru Internet site at 9:03 p.m.  on their Tuesday evening---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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Russian Duma may reauthorize Putin to send the Russian Army into Ukraine

“The Russian Parliament ought to once again give the President of the Russian Federation to use armed force in Ukraine if the U.S. decides to send sizable arms supplies to that country.” This announcement was made by the First Deputy Chairman of the “Just Russia” faction, Mikhail Emelyanov.

The U.S. House of Representatives adopted a resolution on Tuesday recommending the U.S. president to approve arms supplies to Ukraine. The resolution calls on the president to “use the authority provided by Congress to furnish Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons.” According to the authors of the resolution, this measure would “increase the Ukrainian nation’s ability to defend its sovereignty.” The authors of the resolution also exclusively blame Russia for the deaths suffered during the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. At the same time, they ignore the fact that a significant portion of the refugees is in Russia.

“We believe that our parliament should not ignore this resolution. If the U.S. begins genuine lethal weaponry supplies to Ukraine, we should not be shy about supporting the militia, including with weapons, and to give the president the right to send military units on to Ukrainian territory,” Emelyanov told journalists.

In his view, Russia cannot allow Ukraine to be transformed into an “international militant aimed at Russia.”

This interesting---and not entirely surprising commentary showed up on the fortruss.blogspot.ca Internet site yesterday---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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Moscow demands removal of U.S. nuclear missiles in Europe

Russia increased tension over NATO nuclear missiles Tuesday with a demand that the United States remove all non-strategic nuclear weapons from Europe.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich referred to comments by Jen Psaki, his counterpart at the U.S. State Department, that U.S. missiles are under constant U.S. control, as distorted. He added that deployment of U.S. missiles in European NATO countries is a violation of the 1968 Treaty on Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation.

Lukashevich's remarks came after tensions, already ratcheted upward by Russia's contention that it could place nuclear weapons in Crimea, increased over the weekend with the suggestion by a Russian diplomat that the Danish Navy's inclusion of radar on one ship, to involve it in NATO's missile shield, could make Denmark a nuclear target.

This UPI article, filed from Moscow, was posted on their website at 11:18 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and it is, once again, courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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Russian foreign minister: attempts to organize state coup in Venezuela inadmissible

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday any attempts to interfere into Venezuela’s domestic affairs and the United States’ sanctions against Venezuelan citizens are inadmissible.

"Russia and Cuba have reiterated their solidarity with the people of Venezuela, with the legitimate authorities of that country. We consider any attempts to interfere into domestic affairs of that state, illegal sanctions imposed by the United States against a number of Venezuelan citizens inadmissible," Lavrov told journalists during his visit to Havana.

This brief news item, filed from Havana, showed up on the tass.ru website at 9:29 p.m. Moscow time on their Friday evening, which was 1:29 p.m. in Washington.  This is also courtesy of Roy S.

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Anti-Russian propaganda is ‘unconvincing’, because Western narrative is false

You really couldn’t make it up. Almost 24 million people in the E.U. are unemployed. The Greek debt crisis has yet to be resolved. An Islamic State terrorist attack in Tunis, just over 100 miles from Italy. The ever-worsening problem of climate change.

And what are the E.U. elite talking about? How best to counter ‘Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns’. It’s good to know they’ve got their priorities right, isn't it?

At last week’s summit in Brussels, E.U. leaders discussed a range of options, one of which could include the setting up of a new Russian-language TV channel funded by European taxpayers.

A timetable has been laid out: we’re told the E.U.-funded European Endowment for Democracy will present media proposals to a summit in Latvia on May 21-22, and that E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will finalize the plans by the end of June.

This excellent op-edge piece put in an appearance on the Russia Today website on Monday afternoon Moscow time.  I was saving it for Saturday, but thought it worth posting now.  It's definitely worth reading---and it's another offering from Roy Stephens.

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Saudi Arabia Wooing Fired U.S. Shale Workers to ‘Join Our Team’

Workers fired from U.S. shale fields after the collapse in oil prices could soon have a new boss: the nation some blame for driving that decline.

The state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co., also known as Saudi Aramco, is posting new job ads online aiming to snap up experts in extracting oil from shale as the country seeks to become a leader in that rapidly expanding effort. Tens of thousands of U.S. workers have been fired since November as oil prices plunged because of oversupplies, driven in part by an OPEC decision supported by Saudi Arabia.

That’s now giving Saudi Aramco a better chance to lure experienced workers to its own shale formations. Difficult living conditions had previously made the country a hard sell, said Tobias Read, chief executive officer of Swift Worldwide Resources, a recruiting firm.

“We’ve seen people who have historically been reticent to look at Saudi Arabia who are now more accepting of a job there,” Read said in an interview.

This Bloomberg story is nine days old---and was posted on their Internet site last Monday.  The reader that sent it to me wishes to remain anonymous.

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Beijing to Shut All Major Coal Power Plants to Cut Pollution

Beijing, where pollution averaged more than twice China’s national standard last year, will close the last of its four major coal-fired power plants next year.

The capital city will shutter China Huaneng Group Corp.’s 845-megawatt power plant in 2016, after last week closing plants owned by Guohua Electric Power Corp. and Beijing Energy Investment Holding Co., according to a statement Monday on the website of the city’s economic planning agency. A fourth major power plant, owned by China Datang Corp., was shut last year.

The facilities will be replaced by four gas-fired stations with capacity to supply 2.6 times more electricity than the coal plants.

The closures are part of a broader trend in China, which is the world’s biggest carbon emitter. Facing pressure at home and abroad, policy makers are racing to address the environmental damage seen as a byproduct of breakneck economic growth. Beijing plans to cut annual coal consumption by 13 million metric tons by 2017 from the 2012 level in a bid to slash the concentration of pollutants.

This short but interesting Bloomberg article, filed from Beijing, showed up on their Internet site at 9:52 p.m. Denver time on Monday evening---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it our way.

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Costa Rica is now running completely on renewable energy

Costa Rica is running without having to burn a single fossil fuel, and it’s been doing so for 75 straight days.

Thanks to some heavy rainfall this year, Costa Rica’s hydropower plants alone are generating nearly enough electricity to power the entire country. With a boost from geothermal, solar, and wind energy sources, the country doesn’t need an ounce of coal or petroleum to keep the lights on. Of course, the country has a lot of things going in its favor. Costa Rica is a small nation, has less than 5 million people, doesn’t have much of a manufacturing industry that would require a lot of energy, and is filled with volcanoes and other topographical features that lend themselves to renewable energy.

Nonetheless, it is both a noble and significant feat for a nation of any size to eschew fossil fuels completely.

Reader H.W., who went me this article last night, had this to say about it---"I used to live in Costa Rica---and can tell you this: Energy is super expensive. I suppose one can live completely with green energy, but today that price is steep."  That's probably a fair assessment of the price of "green" energy anywhere at the moment.  It was posted on the qz.com Internet site on Monday sometime.

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Freeport-McMoRan: $1.1 billion in dividends just vanished

Freeport-McMoRan stunned investors Tuesday by slashing its dividend 84% – erasing a lucrative income stream for investors and serving up a big reminder these payments aren’t guaranteed.

The company, which explores for materials like copper and gold, announced it is cutting its quarterly dividend down from 31.25 cents a share down to just 5 cents. That’s a massive cut in an implied annual dividend of $1.25 a share to $0.20 a share.

Freeport’s cut is staggering. The reduction takes away $1.05 a share from investors – which is no small sum considering the company has 1.04 billion shares outstanding. All told that amounts to $1.1 billion in lost dividends. The executives will feel the loss, too. CEO Richard Adkerson will miss out on $1.6 million a year in lost dividends.

What makes this cut sting even more is that dividend reductions are extremely rare in the materials sector. There have only been 17 dividend cuts by companies in the S&P 500 materials sector in the past 10 years, including Freeport, says S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Of course, the folks that run this company would never look for the reason why gold and copper are priced the way they are today.  This brief news item showed up on the usatoday.com Internet site at 12:48 p.m. EDT yesterday---and I thank Washington state reader S.A. for sliding it into my in-box shortly after it was posted.

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The Secret of Success in Mineral Exploration -- Louis James, Casey Research

As an investor, I want to bet on the jockeys who win the most races, not just the best-looking horses. So, while I’m no Tom Peters or Stephen Covey, I’ve made a study of success over the last decade. The critical question for a metals investor: what does it takes to be a serially successful mine-finder?

Before I give you the answer, let me give you a little context on just how difficult this is. It’s not as simple as looking for a needle in a haystack; it’s more like looking for a needle in a vast field of steel haystacks, each one of which will give your metal detector false positives. And it’s very expensive to drill holes into them, which is the only way you can test for a needle’s hidden presence.

The odds of any given anomaly actually indicating the presence of a mineable needle are something like one in 300. It typically takes about 10 years to get the needle out of the haystack, and commodity price fluctuations can turn cash-cow operations into money bleeders in the blink of an eye. Pricked by the fickle needle of fate.

So, why would anyone invest in such an uncertain business? Because the world simply cannot function without metals, and the rewards for those who deliver them can be spectacular. Doubling or tripling one’s investment on a successful mineral discovery is routine, and 1,000% gains (10-baggers) are common enough that resource speculators have strategies for bagging them. It’s rare, but 50 and even 100 times one’s initial investment do happen in this volatile sector.

This commentary by Louis put in an appearance on the Casey Research website yesterday---and it's worth reading.

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HSBC Not Closing Gold Vaults – Safety Deposit Boxes of Clients‏ Being Closed

A rumor that HSBC is rapidly and quietly closing gold vaults where clients gold bullion was stored and gold in the GLD ETF is stored has been swirling around the Internet.

After conversations with key players in the industry including a bullion dealer who used the safety deposit boxes for storage and delivery to clients, we can now confidently say that the speculation was incorrect.

What HSBC is actually doing is closing its safety deposit box facilities some of which are in vaults and strong rooms in branches. The vaults are not specialist gold vaults rather standard vaults or strong rooms which contain safety deposit boxes. These safety deposit boxes hold all sorts of valuables – from legal documents, to family heirlooms, to art works, to jewellery and of course bullion coins and bars.

Availability of safety deposit boxes is in decline in Britain and much of the world. Costs of security, insurance and opportunity to use such facilities in a more profitable manner are driving the closures. Banks in Ireland including the Bank of Ireland claim that the safety deposit boxes are “causing an unacceptable health, safety and security risk in some branches.”

The lunatic fringe had a field day with this story when it first appeared a month or so ago, as they took the HSBC press release totally out of context---and I'm happy to see it set straight in Mark O'Byrne's commentary over at the goldcore.com Internet site  on Tuesday.  Brad Robertson was the first reader through the door with it---and it's worth our time.

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Gold Markets May Finally Have Something To Cheer About

Momentum has been building amongst gold stocks this week. With gauges like the S&P/TSX Global Gold Index up 9% over the last week of trading.

The interesting thing is, this rebound has come with very little movement in the gold price itself. As I write, bullion is languishing below $1,190 per ounce.

But a few events are on the horizon that could really give gold investors something to cheer about. In some of the largest consuming nations on the planet.

A prime example being regulatory changes announced last week in the world’s top gold buyer, China. Which should go a long way toward increasing bullion demand in this part of the world.

This bit of shallow main stream fluff about gold appeared on the finance.yahoo.com Internet site yesterday morning EDT---and it's courtesy of Howard Wiener.

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Koos Jansen: Indian gold imports exploding in March

India's gold imports are soaring again, Bullion Star market analyst and GATA consultant Koos Jansen wrote yesterday, even as the Indian government is searching for ways to "monetize" -- or, really, paperize -- the metal.

Jansen's commentary is headlined "Indian Gold Imports Exploding in March" and it was posted on the Singapore Internet site bullionstar.com.  I thank Chris Powell for writing the above paragraph of introduction.  It's definitely worth reading.

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¤ The Funnies

Reader M.A. sent me these incredible close-up photos of hummingbirds---and I thought I'd post a couple every day until I run out.

This one is a green-crowned brilliant...and there are more photos here.



And this one is a wine-throated hummingbird...and there are more photos here.







Avrupa and Antofagasta intersect copper-rich VMS in Pyrite Belt, Portugal

•             First Greenfields discovery of massive sulfide mineralization in 20 years in the Iberian Pyrite Belt

•             10.85 meters of massive and semi-massive/stockwork sulfide mineralization grading 1.81% Cu, 2.57% Pb, 4.38% Zn, 0.13% Sn, and 75.27 ppm Ag

•             Including 7.95 meters @ 2.21% Cu, 3.05% Pb, 4.82% Zn, 0.15% Sn, 89.8 ppm Ag

•             Followed by 2.90 meters @ 0.71% Cu, 1.27% Pb, 3.17% Zn, 0.092% Sn, 35.4 ppm Ag

•             Avrupa and Antofagasta sign an amended Joint Venture Agreement

Please visit our website to learn more about the company and current exploration program.

 

¤ The Wrap

Since the key question of when and at what price the last technical fund short contract would be established in COMEX gold and silver has been answered by the late week rally last week, all that matters now is the extent and nature of the rally that has commenced. From past experience, we also know what will determine the extent and nature of the rally, namely, the degree of aggression in the commercial selling which must occur when the technical funds buy. Will that commercial selling be as aggressive on this rally as it has been on recent rallies over the past couple of years? As time has progressed, the rallies in gold haven’t amounted to much more than a hundred dollars or so and silver rallies haven’t exceeded $3 for some time.

Moreover, we also know from experience that within the commercial community, when the raptors in COMEX gold and silver are as heavily long as they were on the cutoff, these traders are most likely to be the early commercials on the sell side, taking quick profits from technical fund shorts which buy as prices climb. Usually, the big 4 and 8 in COMEX gold and silver don’t add to short positions until much of the raptors long liquidation has occurred. These big commercial shorts, led by JPMorgan in silver have become the de facto short sellers of last resort, because without the price capping that the increase in concentrated short selling represents, silver prices in particular, would run away to the upside. That’s why it’s easy for me to label JPMorgan as the big silver manipulator and crook without fear of consequence. - Silver analyst Ted Butler: 21 March 2015

From a price perspective it was a nothing sort of day on Tuesday in both silver and gold---and it appears that the precious metals have lost their upward momentum for the moment.  I would guess that this didn't occur because of anything that was going on in the free market, but I also commented a few days ago that because the rest of this week---and next Monday---are the final days for the traders to roll out of the April gold contract, there may not be much in the way of price action while this event was unfolding---and that appears to be more or less the case at the moment.  Once the April contract has gone off the board, then we may get a better feel for what "da boyz" have planned.

Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals---and just eyeballing them you can tell that these budding rallies appear to be softening.

As I mentioned earlier, the final days of the current delivery month are getting interesting.  There was a big add to gold open interest for March yesterday---and in silver, JPMorgan is gobbling up more than 50 percent of all contracts issued/delivered so far this month.  Along the way, they've been in a conflict of interest position in silver deliveries on more than one occasion, as customers in their client account have been stopped by JPMorgan in its in-house [proprietary] trading account---and that's what the Daily Delivery Report showed again yesterday.  It's for good reason that Ted Butler calls them crooks---and Jim Rickards has gone on record by calling them "the biggest criminal enterprise of all time"---or words to that effect.

With just three delivery days left [not including today] before the end of the month, the short/issuers are going to be busy---and as is always the case, I'll be more than curious to see who they are.

As I write this paragraph, the London gold market open is about fifteen minutes away.  Both gold and silver are down a bit from Tuesday's close in New York, platinum is flat---and palladium is up a couple of bucks.  Gold volume is already pretty chunky for this time of day, a bit over 22,000 contracts, with only about 15 percent of that amount being roll-overs out of April.  Silver's volume gross volume is just under 4,000 contracts, with virtually all of it in the current front month, which is May.  The dollar index didn't do much in Far East trading on their Wednesday---and is currently down 10 basis points.

Yesterday at the close of COMEX trading was the cut-off for Friday's Commitment of Traders Report.  I doubt very much if there was any deterioration in the Commercial net short position caused by Tuesday's price activity.  But there certainly has been deterioration since last Tuesday's cut-off---and we won't know how bad it is until the report comes out on Friday afternoon.  Ted's quote above certainly add clarity to the situation---and I urge to read it again, as it's spot on.

The internal structure inside the report still has a very bullish configuration, but it's not quite as bullish as it was at the close of trading a week ago Tuesday.  Ted and I are hoping for the best, but it could turn out to be the same old, same old.

So we wait some more.

And as I send this off to Casey Research HQ at 5:10 a.m. EDT, is see that gold and silver prices are back to around unchanged---and both platinum and palladium are up four bucks or so each.  Gold net volume is now a bit over 27,000 contracts, which is a very small change from two and a half hours ago---and silver's net volume is around 5,500 contracts, which isn't a lot of difference either from what it was fifteen minutes before the London gold market opened.

The dollar index, which peaked at 97.25 minutes before 3 p.m. Hong Kong time on their Wednesday afternoon, has now fallen to 96.86 two hours later in early trading in London---a decline of 38 basis points in just over two hours.

As I said above, I'm not expecting a lot in the way of price action in either gold or silver for the remainder of the week, but I reserve the right to be wrong.

See you tomorrow.

Ed Steer