Gold & Silver Daily

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

It was another quiet day for gold yesterday.  After the usual dip in morning trading in the Far East on their Wednesday, the price began to rally once the gold market opened in London.  That rally lasted until the gold price pierced the $1,200 spot mark, which came at the open of equity trading in New York---and it was all down hill from there.

The low and high ticks were reported by the CME Group as $1,199.30 and $1,186.10 in the April contract.

Gold closed yesterday at $1,195.10 spot, up $1.90 from Tuesday's close.  Gross volume was around 290,000 contracts, but it netted out at a very light 81,000 contracts, as the roll-over activity out of the April contract is really heating up.

It was exactly the same story in silver, so I shall spare you the play-by-play.  Silver made it through the $17 spot mark once the COMEX opened in New York at 8:20 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning, but wasn't allowed to close there.

The low and high were recorded as $16.84 and $17.14 in the May contract.

Silver finished the Wednesday trading session at $16.955 spot, up 1.5 cents from Tuesday's close.  Net volume was pretty light at only 27,000 contracts, about the same as Tuesday's volume.

The platinum chart was a carbon copy of the silver and gold charts.  That white metal closed at $1,141 spot, up 6 dollars on the day.

Palladium's rally didn't last as long---and was much weaker, but it still manged to close up a dollar on the day at $763 spot.

The dollar index closed late on Tuesday afternoon in New York at 97.24---and managed to hang around that number until shortly before 7 a.m. GMT, which was the open of the gold market in London.  From there it chopped lower, hitting its 96.58 low tick right at 8:30 a.m. in New York.  From there it rallied back to just a hair under the 97.00 level by 11:15 a.m. EDT, before selling off a handful of points into the close.  The index finished the Wednesday trading session at 96.93---which was down 31 basis points from Tuesday.

Here's the 6-month U.S. Dollar Index to keep you up to date.

The gold equities opened in the black, but began to head lower almost immediately.  I would guess that part of the decline was due to what was going on in the gold market, but part of it was obviously selling in response to what was happening in the general equity markets yesterday.  In the end, the HUI closed down 1.47 percent.

The same can be said of the silver shares---as Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed down 1.34 percent.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that 1 lonely gold contract, along with 129 silver contracts, were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Friday.   The big short/issuer was Credit Suisse.  They weren't even close to being on my short list, so their appearance here is a big surprise.  But it should come as no surprise to anyone at this juncture, that it was JPMorgan as the big long/stopper once again.  They picked up 100 contracts in their in-house [proprietary] trading account, along with 14 contracts for their client account. The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Wednesday trading session showed that March gold open interest, after jumping up many hundreds of contracts on Tuesday, had them all subtracted out yesterday, as March o.i. dropped by 389 contracts back down to only 92 contracts remaining.  I don't know what that was about.  Silver open interest fell by 134 contracts down to 212 contracts remaining, minus the 129 contracts in the previous paragraph, so we're getting close to the bottom of the barrel for March deliveries in both metals.

There was another withdrawal from GLD yesterday, as an authorized participant took out 38,387 troy ounces.  Since the gold rally began a week ago---211,137 troy ounces of gold have been withdrawn from GLD---and nothing has been deposited.

There were no reported changes in SLV yesterday---and since the rally in silver began a week ago, there have been 2.01 million troy ounces of silver withdrawn from SLV, with nothing deposited. 

The folks over at the Internet site updated their website yesterday with the new short positions in both SLV and GLD as of mid-March.  The short position in SLV increased by a tiny 1.00 percent, from 16.87 million shares/troy ounces, to 16.95 million shares/troy ounces.  The short position in GLD rose by 13.23 percent, from 1.14 million troy ounces to 1.29 million troy ounces.  In terms of the number of shares involved for GLD, it would be ten times these amounts.

Just after I hit the 'send' button on today's column, Switzerland's Zürcher Kantonalbank updated their website with the data from their gold and silver ETFs as of the close of business on Friday, March 20---and this is what they had to report.  Their gold ETF took a big jump, as 21,834 troy ounces were added during the reporting week.  It was the same with their silver ETF, as 237,164 troy ounces were added.  These represent the biggest one-week additions in many years.

There was a tiny sales report from the U.S. Mint.  They sold another 72,000 silver eagles.

There was a lot of gold activity at the COMEX-approved depositories on Tuesday.  In the regular depositories there was only 835.900 troy ounces reported received---and 1,028.800 troy ounces shipped out.  Using the conversion factor of 32.151---a number that Nick Laird provided the other day---these amounts work out to within a whisker of 26 and 320 kilobars respectively.  The link to that activity is here.

Over in the week-old Gold Kilo Stock depositories, it was a very busy day indeed---and I'm trying to make some sense of what's happening over there, as there have been huge in/out movements on a couple of days at Brink's, Inc.  On Tuesday, they reported receiving 614,791.422 troy ounces [19,122 kilobars]---and they also reported shipping out 529,430.517 troy ounces, which works out to 16,467 kilobars.  The link to that activity is here.

It was pretty straightforward in silver, as 234,806 troy ounces were received by Canada's Scotiabank---and 401,806 troy ounces were shipped out, with virtually all of it coming from the vaults over at HSBC USA.  The link to that action is here.

I've hacked and slashed---and cut back the stories to a reasonable number.


¤ Critical Reads

Durable Goods Orders Drop And Miss In Worst Run Since Lehman

For the 3rd of the last 4 months, Durable Goods Orders fell and missed expectations (the worst run since Lehman). A 1.4% drop (against expectations of a 0.2% rise) is made worse by downward revisions of the last month's modest bounce. Across the board the numbers are a disaster - Ex-Trans fell 0.4%, Ex-defense fell 1%, Capital Goods Shipments fell 1.4% with capital goods ex-air dropping a stunning 7.6% YoY.

  • *U.S. FEBRUARY DURABLES ORDERS FALL 1.4%; EX-TRANS. DROP 0.4% (both big misses)
  • *JANUARY DURABLE GOODS ORDERS RISE 2%, REVISED FROM 2.8% GAIN (major downward revision)

New orders fell for Computer products, fabricated metals, machinery, transportation, motor vehicle, and a dramatic plunge in non-defense aircraft new orders and even larger (33.1%) collapse in defense aircraft orders.

This news item appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 8:37 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning---and today's first story is courtesy of reader M.A.


Dow tumbles 292 points as economy shows cracks

Wall Street is no longer cheering bad economic news.

The Dow dropped 292 points and the S&P 500 declined almost 1.5% after the latest in a long line of alarming economic reports.  The tech-heavy NASDAQ tumbled over 2.3% -- its biggest drop in nearly a year -- as investors worry that biotechs may be overvalued.

For weeks the stock market rallied because investors saw every economic speed bump as an indication the Federal Reserve would keep interest rates extremely low for longer and longer.

"You're at a point now where you can no longer say bad news is good news. That's not working anymore. You've got to show some growth here," said Joe Saluzzi, co-head of trading at Themis Trading.

This article showed up on the Internet site at 5:05 p.m. EDT yesterday---and I found it in this morning's edition of the King Report.


Price of Ground Beef Hits Record in February: $4.238 Per Pound

The average price of a pound of ground beef climbed to another record high in February, hitting $4.238 per pound, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In August 2014, the average price for a pound of all types of ground beef topped $4 for the first time, hitting $4.013, according to the BLS.

In September, the average price jumped to $4.096 per pound; in October, the average price climbed to $4.154 per pound; and in November, the average price climbed to $4.201 per pound.

This article was posted on the Internet site on Tuesday morning EDT---and it's the second offering of the day from reader M.A.


SEC proposes forcing high-frequency trading firms to register

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday voted to propose a rule that would force high-speed trading firms to register. Such high-speed trading firms, when they conduct business only for their own accounts, are currently exempt from registration with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The rule that allows this exemption hasn't been substantively amended since 1983, the SEC says. The Michael Lewis book "Flash Boys" has brought more scrutiny on high-frequency trading.

This single paragraph story appeared on the Internet site at 11:02 a.m. EDT yesterday---and I thank Brad Robertson for sending it.


Russia’s Lavrov compliments Obama

Russia has chosen to sidestep the provocative resolution passed with an overwhelming majority of 348 to 48 by the U.S. Congress on Monday urging President Barack Obama to send lethal weapons to Ukraine. Of course, Obama himself would ignore it.

However, the Russian assessment rests on more fundamental considerations. In a television interview in Moscow last week, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was optimistic that Obama is unlikely to decide on supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine. This is what he said:

“So far, the administration of US President Barack Obama has opposed supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine. They are proceeding from considerations rooted in their overwhelming desire for a political solution, and also from purely pragmatic reasons. They are aware that this could lead to a grave military situation. And the most important thing is the European Union doesn’t want it either. It is not taking its cues from a small, aggressive and noisy group of its member countries that couldn’t care less and are eager to endlessly blame Russia for all the sins in the world, to preserve the sanctions against our country, and so on. As things stand now, a change in the E.U. position seems entirely unlikely to me.” [Emphasis added.]

The friendly tenor of Lavrov remarks — as friendly toward Obama as circumstances would permit a Russian foreign minister at the moment — would suggest that there might have been Russian-American cogitations on this topic and Lavrov would have spoken in the light of recent exchanges with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Most certainly, an overall lowering of the U.S.’ anti-Russia rhetoric on Ukraine is palpable in the recent week or two.

This commentary by Indian career diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar appeared on the Asia Times website yesterday---and it's the third story of the day from reader M.A.  It's certainly worth reading.


Obama Refuses to Meet With NATO Secretary General in Washington

NATO’s new Secretary General is in Washington this week, but despite repeated requests, has been refused a meeting at the White House. Could this be another indication of rising tension between President Obama and European leaders over the proposed EU army?

Nearly every NATO country has hosted the organization’s new head, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, since he took office in October. It’s part of a long tradition which has, until now, been enthusiastically followed by US presidents as a way to illustrate commitment to one of the country’s strongest treaty obligations.

"The Bush administration held a firm line that if the NATO secretary general came to town, he would be seen by the president…so as not to diminish his stature or authority," Kurt Volker, former US representative to NATO, told Bloomberg.

This is a big "up yours" to NATO's plans for the Ukraine.  This very interesting news item was posted on the Internet site at 7:21 p.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday evening, which was 11:21 a.m. in Washington.  It's the first contribution of the day from Roy Stephens.


Alberta to bleed 31,800 jobs by end of year in oil price carnage

Alberta, the Canadian province holding the world’s third-largest oil reserves, expects 31,800 jobs to be lost for the remainder of the year as a crude price crash forces producers to cut costs.

Even with the job losses, overall employment will rise 1% in 2015 because of gains carried over from December, the provincial finance ministry said Tuesday in a statement to reporters in Calgary. That compares with a 2.2% increase in employment last year. It would take a loss of 80,000 jobs before year-end to prevent employment from growing, the government said.

Suncor Energy Inc., Cenovus Energy Inc. and other oil producers have already shed thousands of jobs this year as they cut spending on new projects. The energy industry accounts for about a quarter of Alberta’s economy, making the province the most reliant on crude in Canada, and previously fueling a boom that saw real estate prices and the number of millionaires in Calgary surge.

This short Bloomberg news item found a home on the Internet site on Tuesday---and it's the second offering of the day from Brad Robertson.


Russian Shipbuilder to Sue German Engine Supplier

Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) is preparing to sue Germany-based company MTU for its failure to supply engines for Russian corvettes, Ekho Moskvy radio station reported on Tuesday, citing USC President Alexei Rakhmanov.

MTU refused to supply the power units under a valid €24 million contract, Rakhmanov said.

“As if it wasn’t enough to keep the engines, they also tried to take us to court to avoid returning our advance payment,” he added.

This short article, filed from Moscow, appeared on the website late on Tuesday Moscow time.


Europe blocks desperate Greek attempt to stay afloat

The Greek government will not receive €1.2bn (£883m) in European rescue funds after officials ruled the Leftist government had no legal claims on the cash.

Athens requested the return of money it said was erroneously handed to creditors from Greece's own bank recapitalisation fund, the Hellenic Financial Stability Facility (HFSF).

The transfer was originally arranged by the previous Greek administration.

But eurozone officials have blocked the claim, saying it is "legally impossible" transfer the money back to the debt-stricken country.

This news item appeared on the Internet site at 10:00 p.m. GMT in London last evening---and it's another news item I found embedded in yesterday's edition of the King Report.


The Political Perils of a Ukraine Default

For the last 10 days, Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko has been visiting private creditors in Europe and the U.S. to explain why they should help her create a "new Ukraine," by agreeing to write off some of its debt. Back home, meanwhile, an oligarch with a private army was busy occupying two state energy companies in a style decidedly reminiscent of the old Ukraine.

The contrast is no criticism of Jaresko, an American-Ukrainian from Chicago who seems committed to the economic reform Ukraine needs. Indeed, the attempt by Igor Kolomoisky, a billionaire businessman and regional governor, to keep control of two state energy companies is grist for the pitch she’s been making to private holders of Ukraine’s sovereign debt.

Jaresko says they'll never get a better price for their bonds than now, because there’s a calm amid the Ukrainian storm. There's something resembling a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine; the currency is stable(ish); there’s a government committed to reform under the International Monetary Fund’s $40 billion loan program; and that government has support for that in parliament.

Her list of shocks that could end this lull is longer and all too plausible -- especially if the country's creditors don't help out before May, potentially forcing the IMF to withdraw its program and force a disorderly default.

This rather short commentary was posted on the Internet site at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday afternoon---and I thank South African reader B.V.  It's worth your time.


Moody’s downgrades Ukraine heralding imminent default

International rating agency Moody's has downgraded the long-term issuer rating of Ukraine to the second lowest Ca grade from Caa3, leaving the outlook negative and a high possibility of the country’s imminent default.

“Although negotiations over the specific details of the restructuring are only now getting underway, Moody's believes that the likelihood of a distressed exchange, and hence a default on government debt taking place, is virtually one hundred percent,” Moody’s said in a news release Tuesday.

Another reason for downgrading Ukraine’s rating is that foreign private lenders are expected to incur substantial losses due to the government's plan of restructuring the bonds it has issued or guaranteed, the agency said.

The negative outlook reflects the agency’s expectation that the level of Ukrainian external debt will remain very high, despite plans to restructure the debt and carry out reforms.

This short article appeared on the Russia Today website at 10:22 a.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday morning---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.


'A revolution is impossible in Belarus'

The political year for the Belarusian opposition begins today, on Freedom Day, with a state-sanctioned rally.

The day, which marks the foundation of the Belarusian People’s Republic in 1918, used to bring thousands to the streets of Minsk to oppose the government of Alexander Lukashenko – who has been in power since 1994.

Not anymore. The political opposition is suffering from years of exclusion from public sphere; they have not held a seat in parliament since 1996, they are virtually ignored by state-affiliated media and the government have restricted their right to protest.

The appetite for a revolution has also been quelled by events in neighbouring Ukraine. Belarusians are cautious. The risk of the state collapse, civil strife and Russian interference seems too high. The west, particularly the US, take the same line. Preserving Belarusian independence, not democratisation, has become the highest priority.

This short, but very interesting essay appeared on website at 1:15 p.m. GMT on Wednesday afternoon, which was 9:15 a.m. in New York---and it's the second offering of the day from reader B.V.  I'm not sure what to make of it, but I am curious as to the reason it's appearing at this juncture.


Saudi Arabia moves heavy arms to border with chaos-stricken Yemen

Saudi Arabia is deploying a significant task force to the border with neighboring Yemen, where Houthi Shiite rebels allegedly forced the president to leave the country. President Hadi has been asking the U.N. to approve the use of foreign forces in Yemen.

The situation in Yemen remains murky, with Houthi militants claiming capture of the southern seaport of Aden, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s stronghold. The fighters say the city of Aden is now under their control and they're arresting the president's supporters there.

The rebels claim Hadi has fled the country, and announced a 20 million riyal ($100,000) reward for Hadi's capture, Lebanese-based Al-Manar TV reported, citing the rebels' representatives. While two of the president's aides have said he remains in Aden and has no intention of leaving the country, later reports claim he has left Yemen.

Yemen's president has left the country on a boat from Aden, officials told AP.  Hadi is now traveling by sea to the neighboring country of Djibouti, Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's secretary told RIA Novosti.

This longish, but worthwhile news item appeared on the Russia Today Internet site at 10:31 a.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday morning, which was 2:31 a.m. EDT in Washington.  I thank reader M.A. for digging it up for us.


Saudi Arabia launches air attacks in Yemen

Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes early Thursday in neighboring Yemen, heading a coalition of Arab nations in an effort to dislodge Houthi rebels sweeping through that country.

The strikes were a startling turn of events that came as the Houthis, in control of Yemen’s capital for months, barreled south toward the coastal city of Aden, seizing an air base along the way that was evacuated by U.S. Special Operations forces­ last week.

President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who had taken refuge in Aden after fleeing Sanaa, the capital, was said to have escaped. His whereabouts were unknown.

The military operation was announced Wednesday evening in Washington by Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir, who said it would last until Yemen’s “legitimate government” was restored.

This news story put in an appearance on The Washington Post website at 10:20 p.m. EDT last night---and it's another article I lifted from this morning's edition of the King Report.


Chinese demand for Russian oil holds steady

Demand for Russian crude oil in the Chinese economy is expected to hold steady, despite economic faltering in both countries, a Chinese trader said Wednesday.

Chinese officials are describing a "new normal" in an economy slowing from a long period of double-digit growth. For Russia, sanctions pressure in response to crises in Ukraine and the decline in crude oil prices is pushing the country toward recession.

Chen Bo, head of the oil trading subsidiary of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., said from a bilateral energy forum in Beijing both countries would remain strong energy partners.

This UPI story, filed from Beijing, appeared on their Internet site at 6:58 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning---and I thank Roy for his final offering in today's column.


Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: U.S. risks epic blunder by treating China as an economic enemy

The U.S. Treasury's attempt to cripple the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank before it gets off the ground is clearly intended to head off China's ascendancy as a rival financial superpower, whatever the faux-pieties from Washington about standards of "governance."

Such a policy is misguided at every level, evidence of what can go wrong when a lame-duck president defers to posturing amateurs in Congress on delicate matters of global geostrategy.

Washington has enraged Britain by trying to browbeat Downing Street into boycotting the project. It has forced allies and friendly countries across the Far East to make a fatal choice between the US and China that none wished to make, and has ended up losing almost everybody. Germany, France, and Italy are joining. Australia and South Korea may follow soon.

Ambrose carves the U.S. a new one, which is a sure sign that they've really stepped in it this time, which is precisely what they've done.  There's also no doubt in my mind that he was given the green light to write it, as he would never have been allowed to be this vitriolic without approval from above. This absolute must read commentary appeared on The Telegraph's website at 8:37 p.m. GMT yesterday evening in London---and I found it in a GATA release that Chris Powell filed from Hong Kong on their Thursday afternoon.


Lawrence Williams: SocGen’s ultra bearish gold and silver outlook

Analysts at the French Bank Société Générale (SocGen) in their latest research report have forecast that the gold price, having given away all its early year gains, was headed sharply lower, as it saw the dollar continue its gain in strength. They thus expected the bear market in gold to continue further and saw the price as falling to average only $925 an ounce between 2016 and 2019. The timing of this report was perhaps unfortunate in that the forecast for a virtually immediate downturn in gold, together with dollar strength, predated the events of the past few days, which has seen the reverse occur. Gold bulls will be fervently hoping that the bank’s analysts are equally incorrect in their forecast of gold’s longer-term prospects.

It’s not that the SocGen predictions couldn’t happen. Anything is possible with what we see as a gold price dominated by the futures markets and thus by the financial elite (which includes SocGen).

However the more we look at physical gold flows, and the rise in Asian-located precious metals exchange participation and volumes, we just feel that the current dominance of New York and London in gold and silver price setting could be drawing to a close. It would be replaced by pricing on the new Asian precious metals exchanges where there will likely be a different ultimate agenda. Whether that will involve allowing precious metals prices to rise, and rise fast, is anyone’s guess, but the current West to East physical gold flows suggest that this could well be in the cards.

This commentary by Lawrie is definitely worth reading---and it appeared on the Internet site at 12:24 p.m. GMT in London Wednesday afternoon.  I thank Nick Laird for bringing it to our attention.  Perma-gold bear Jeff Christian over at CPM Group was also dumping on the "ancient metal of kings".  His comments appeared in an article on the Bloomberg website on Tuesday afternoon bearing the headline "Gold Prices Seen Declining by CPM for Third Straight Year".  I found this item on the Sharps Pixley website in the wee hours of this morning.


HSBC 'cautiously optimistic' of gold price outlook in 2015

HSBC is "cautiously optimistic" of the gold price outlook for 2015, predicting a trading range of $1,120/oz-$1,305/oz with an average price of $1,234/oz, the bank said late Tuesday, March 24.

"The possibility that deflationary pressures could bring on negative rates in some economies helps reaffirm our cautiously optimistic view on gold," head analyst James Steel said.

However, in Steel's view gold prices are not "entirely hostage" to monetary developments.

"The recent price slump below $1,150/oz may be encouraging greater demand from price sensitive emerging market buyers, notably, but not exclusively, in India and China," Steel said.

Blah, blah, blah.   As you already know dear reader, the price of gold, along with the other three precious metals, are set by JPMorgan et al in the COMEX futures market irrespective of supply and demand fundamentals---or anything else for that matter---and what they decide, or are instructed to do, determines prices---end of story.  But these so-called "analysts" are oblivious, as their jobs depend on them not seeing this.  This gold-related news item appeared on the Internet site at 5:49 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and it's another article I found on the Sharps Pixley website this morning.


Koos Jansen: Turkey's mint sometimes products more gold coins than U.S. mint

The Turkish mint gets little attention, Bullion Star market analyst and GATA consultant Koos Jansen wrote earlier today, but it is among the biggest in the world and in some recent years has produced more gold coins than the U.S. mint.

Jansen's report is headlined "The Largest Gold Mints in the World"---and it was posted on the Internet site early Thursday morning Singapore time.  I thank Chris Powell for writing the above paragraph of introduction.



¤ The Funnies

Here are four more hummingbird photos from the group that reader M.A. sent our way on Monday.  These fellows are rufous hummingbirds---and it's a North American species that is very common on the west coast---and as far north as Alaska in the summer.  It, along with the ruby-throat, is a hummingbird that I'm more than familiar with.  Depending on your viewing angle and available light---and whether they're "on display" or not---they can look quite different from various viewpoints, as they can flash their iridescence at will---mostly at other male hummingbirds.

Despite their diminutive size, the male hummingbird of this [or any other] species has an A-type personality of the first order of magnitude---and to watch them go at each other in a territorial dispute, defence of a hummingbird feeder, or a prospective female, is awesome to watch.  Photo #4 is a good example of the male all puffed up and rarin' for a fight.  I've never seen "attitude" like this in such a tiny creature---and they are tiny.  A large female of this species might weigh 5 grams, the male considerably less.  Yet they fly 2-3,000 kilometers twice a year during their annual migrations.

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¤ The Wrap

For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that JPMorgan appears to be long physical up the ying yang---and the great setup in the COT market structure for both silver and gold, I’m still inclined to think the big move up in silver may be at hand. Of course, if conditions change, namely, if JPMorgan loads up on the short side of COMEX silver once again, I will change my opinion. But until that time, it still looks like silver (and gold) has the green light to the upside. And I suppose, if this is the start of the big silver move, then the negative collective sentiment should be considered a contrarian confirmation indicator for a price move higher. - Silver analyst Ted Butler: 25 March 2015

I wasn't expecting much in the way of price action yesterday---and that's the way it turned out.  But even a cursory glance at the gold and silver charts shows that there wasn't much action because "gentle hands" were there once again---this time at the open of the equity markets in New York, one of their favourite times to appear.

Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals once again---and as I pointed out yesterday, the rallies in gold and silver appear to be faltering at the moment.  But they're only faltering because JPMorgan et al are painting the charts.

We're also coming up on the end of the the first quarter---and there will be a lot of book-squaring in front of that, so prices may be somewhat more volatile than normal, but I doubt very much if they'll be allowed get out of hand to the upside, but I'd love to be wrong about that.

As I type this paragraph, the London gold market open is fifteen minutes away.  After a quiet open in the Far East on their Thursday morning, the price began to rally a bit starting shortly before 9 a.m. Hong Kong time---and is still at it, and above $1,200 spot as I write this.  Silver is back above $17 spot, platinum is up 7 bucks---and palladium is up 4 dollars.  Net gold volume is just under 16,000 contracts, which isn't a lot---and roll-overs are about a third of gross volume at the moment.  Silver's net volume is sitting at 3,500 contracts, which is quiet as  well.  The dollar index is heading lower---and is currently down 21 basis points.

Today and tomorrow will be heavy volume days, as all the large traders [unless they're standing for delivery] have to be out of the April gold contract by the close of COMEX trading on Friday.  And as I've said all week, I doubt if we'll see any untoward moves in the precious metal prices---and as you can tell from the 6-month price charts posted above, "untoward" price movements aren't being allowed.

And as I sent today's column out the door at 5:20 a.m. EDT, I see that shortly after the gold market opened in London, the rallies in all four precious metals went vertical, which had all the hallmarks of a "no ask" market.  But shortly after 8 a.m. GMT, the not-for-profit sellers appeared in force---and are currently hard at work attempting to put these rallies back in the box.

Gold volume has exploded to 66,000 gross contracts---45,000 net.  And silver's net volume is sky-high as well at 11,500 contracts.  The dollar index got as low as 96.21---but is 10 basis points off that low at the moment---and down 61 basis points from its Wednesday afternoon close in New York.

Here's the Kitco gold chart as of 5:17 a.m. EDT, which was 9:17 a.m. in London.

I guess this is some of the price 'volatility' I spoke of as month end/quarter end approaches, but it's still surprising to see as we head into options and futures expiry for the April delivery month.

Whether there's more to come or not, is unknown---but as Ted Butler said in his quote above, we're "locked and loaded" for price moves of biblical proportions if that's what JPMorgan et al have been instructed to allow happen.  But at they moment, they're fighting these rallies with everything they've got.

I'll be more than interested to see what the lay of the land is like when I roll out of bed later this morning.

See you tomorrow.

Ed Steer