Gold & Silver Daily
 

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

Along with the rallies in early Far East trading on their Thursday morning, the rallies in all four precious metals that I watched unfold between 5:05 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. EST was all there was to yesterday's 'fireworks'.  From its high at that point, gold got quietly off into the London p.m. gold fix---and 'da boyz' took care of the rest, as they dropped the price back below the $1,200 spot mark---and it's 50-day moving average.  That's where it stayed for the remainder of the day.

The low and high were recorded by the CME Group as $1,188.50 and $1,213.90 in the February contract.

Gold closed in New York on Thursday afternoon at $1,197.90 spot, up $9.00 from Wednesday.  Volume, net of December and January, was 145,000 contracts.

Silver's price path was very similar, except the price got sold off its London high until it was back to $15.90 spot, which occurred around 11:20 a.m. EST.  From there it chopped sideways into the 5:15 p.m. EST close of electronic trading.

The low and high ticks were reported as $15.74 and $16.23 in the March contract.

Silver was closed at $15.875 spot, up 12.5 cents on the day.  Net volume was 34,500 contracts.

Platinum's price chart was similar to silver's, as its 10:30 a.m. GMT high got sold down to just above unchanged by 12:15 p.m. EST---and from there it chopped sideways until it popped a few bucks going into the close of electronic trading. Platinum finished the Thursday session at $1,198 spot, up 12 dollars from Wednesday.

Up until 10:30 a.m. GMT, palladium followed a very similar price path to the other three precious metals.  But after getting sold down a few dollars from its high, the price chopped sideways until a tiny rally began shortly after 10 a.m. EST---and palladium closed almost on its high of the day, up $15 at $791 spot.

The dollar index closed in New York late on Wednesday afternoon at 89.075---and chopped around mostly above the 89 mark, hitting its 89.37 high shortly before 9 a.m. EST.  From there it got sold down quietly into the close.  The index finished the Thursday session at 89.23---up about 15 basis points on the day.

The gold stocks gapped up about 3 percent at the open---and then chopped sideways in a mostly narrow range, before catching another bid shortly after 2:30 p.m. EST---and the HUI closed almost on its high tick, up another 5.26%.

The silver equities rallied around 3 percent in the first few minutes of trading, before getting sold down just into negative territory about 10:45 a.m. EST.  From there, they took off to the upside with barely a backward glance---and Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed almost on its high tick as well, up 5.31%.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that 144 gold and zero silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Monday.  Canada's Scotiabank was the short/issuer for all of them---and JPMorgan stopped all of them: 3 for its customer account---and the rest in its in-house [proprietary] trading account. The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Thursday trading session showed that gold open interest in December declined by 24 contracts down to 740 contracts---minus the 144 posted for delivery in the previous paragraph.  Silver's December open interest was unchanged at 101 contracts.

There were no reported changes in GLD yesterday---and as of 7:27 p.m. EST yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV, either.

Since yesterday was Thursday, Joshua Gibbons, the "Guru of the SLV Bar List", updated his website with the goings-on over at the iShares.com Internet site for their week ending at the close of business on Wednesday---and this is what he had to report.  "Analysis of the 17 December 2014 bar list, and comparison to the previous week's list: 4,214,748.9 oz were removed (all from Brinks London), no bars were added or had serial number changes."

"The bars removed were from Britannia (0.8M oz), Russian State Refineries (0.7M oz), Australian Gold (0.4M oz) and 34 others.  As of the time that the bar list was produced, it was overallocated 319.0 oz."

"There was a withdrawal of 2,011,401.0 oz on Wednesday that is not yet reflected on the bar list. Again, over 99% of the bars removed were old bars, that had been in SLV for many years."

The good folks over at Switzerland's Zürcher Kantonalbank updated their gold and silver ETFs for the week ending Friday, December 12.  It showed that their gold ETF declined by 28,216 troy ounces---and their silver ETF actually added 9,243 troy ounces.

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

Ted and I are still amazed at the weak gold sales so far this month, as nothing has been reported sold for more than two weeks now---and it's the Christmas season.  Normally gold sales would be reasonably brisk---but not this year it would appear.  The only buyer right now are the 'Mr. Bigs' in silver eagles---and with no sales reported in them for the last two days, I'd guess we're done for the year in silver eagles as well.

It was another quiet in/out day in both gold and silver over at the COMEX-approved depositories on Wednesday.  In gold, only 2,612 troy ounces were reported received---and 1,479 troy ounces were shipped out.  In silver, 50,824 ounces were received---and 34,082 troy ounces were shipped out the door.

I have another decent number of stories for you today---and I hope you have the time to read the ones that interest you.

 

¤ Critical Reads

U.S. regulators label MetLife as potential financial threat

U.S. regulators have labeled insurer MetLife as a potential threat to the financial system, a designation that brings stricter government oversight.

MetLife said Thursday that the Financial Stability Oversight Council has designated the company as "systemically important." As a result, MetLife must increase its cushion of capital against losses, limit its use of borrowed money and submit to inspections by examiners. MetLife will come under the supervision of the Federal Reserve. Its primary regulator now is New York state.

Regulators saw a need for closer oversight of big financial companies that aren't banks after the near-collapse of insurer American International Group threatened to bring down the global system in September 2008 during the crisis. The idea is to prevent a catastrophic collapse that could lead to another financial meltdown.

New York-based MetLife is the largest U.S. life insurer, with about $475 billion in assets under management.

This AP story, filed from Washington, appeared on the news.yahoo.com Internet site on Thursday afternoon EST---and today's first news item is courtesy of West Virginia reader Elliot Simon.

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Fed calls time on $5.7 trillion of emerging market dollar debt

The U.S. Federal Reserve has pulled the trigger. Emerging markets must now brace for their ordeal by fire.

They have collectively borrowed $5.7 trillion in U.S. dollars, a currency they cannot print and do not control. This hard-currency debt has tripled in a decade, split between $3.1 trillion in bank loans and $2.6 trillion in bonds. It is comparable in scale and ratio-terms to any of the biggest cross-border lending sprees of the past two centuries.

Much of the debt was taken out at real interest rates of 1pc on the implicit assumption that the Fed would continue to flood the world with liquidity for years to come. The borrowers are "short dollars", in trading parlance. They now face the margin call from Hell as the global monetary hegemon pivots.

The Fed dashed all lingering hopes for leniency on Wednesday. The pledge to keep uber-stimulus for a "considerable time" has gone, and so has the market's security blanket, or the Fed Put as it is called. Such tweaks of language have multiplied potency in a world of zero rates.

This commentary from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard showed up on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 9:27 p.m. GMT on Wednesday evening---and falls into the must read category.  I thank Roy Stephens for his first offering in today's column.

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Psaki misspoke: Obama not yet signed new anti-Russian bill

U.S. President Barack Obama has not yet signed a bill clearing the way for more economic sanctions against Russia. The U.S. State Department confirmed Jen Psaki misspoke during the press briefing.

The bill was expected to be signed “by the end of the week,” according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest’s statement in Tuesday. U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki claimed on Wednesday that the bill was already signed.

“He signed it yesterday,” Psaki stated during the briefing, interrupting Russia Today’s Gayane Chichakyan who was asking a question about the bill dubbed Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014.

However, according to representatives of the White House “the President has not yet signed this legislation.”

This article put in an appearance on the Russia Today website at 9:44 p.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday evening, which was 1:44 p.m. in New York.

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Russian economic meltdown sparks wave of panic buying London homes

Wealthy Russians, desperate to get their money out of Moscow in the wake of the Russian economic crisis, are panic-buying in London this week, according to high-end estate agents.

Russia has lost control of its economy in the last few days after an interest rate hike by the central bank failed to stem the collapse of the rouble, accelerating the trend of Russian buyers in the UK capital.

Beauchamp Estates said it has seen as much as a 10pc uptick in sales of luxury London homes to Russians since the rouble started to spiral a year ago.

"I currently have half a dozen Russian clients urgently looking to spend over £20m each on buying a new home in central London. For them the address must be Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Regents Park, it's got to be a prestigious postcode and ideally a park side or leafy address," said Gary Hersham, founder of Beauchamp Estates.

This real estate-related article was posted on The Telegraph website at 4:55 p.m. GMT on Wednesday afternoon---and I found it in yesterday's edition of the King Report.

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Russians Quit London Luxury Homes as Only Super-Rich Stay

Wealthy Russian home buyers are vanishing from London after driving a wave of foreign investment that lifted property prices to records. Only the oligarchs persist.

The number of Russians registered through Christie’s International Real Estate to buy homes in the city dropped by 70 percent in a year, said Giles Hannah, the broker’s senior vice president. That has led to a plunge in offers for properties priced at less than 10 million pounds ($16 million) as it becomes more difficult for all but the wealthiest to take money out of their home country.

“The banks are limiting what they can withdraw and we’re expecting further impact as sanctions kick in,” said Hannah, who advised Russian families on 180 million pounds of London property deals in the past two years. “The oligarchs are still spending. They already have banks or lawyers over here that allow them to make purchases.”

This Bloomberg article, filed from London, appeared on their Internet site at 4:04 a.m. Denver time on Thursday morning---and it's the second offering of the day from Elliot Simon.

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U.K. oil industry ‘close to collapse’ as price plunges below $60 per barrel

Britain’s oil industry is in a “crisis” and may be “close to collapse,” a senior oil industry expert has said, as the UK’s biggest oil and gas companies continue to cut staff and investment and the price of crude slumps.

Speaking to the BBC, Robin Allan, chairman of the independent explorers’ association Brindex, echoed warnings made by other figures in the oil industry in the past month, saying that no new projects in the North Sea would be profitable while oil is being traded at below $60 a barrel.

“It's almost impossible to make money at these oil prices,” Allan said.

“It's close to collapse,” he said. “In terms of new investments – there will be none, everyone is retreating, people are being laid off at most companies this week and in the coming weeks. Budgets for 2015 are being cut by everyone.”

This Russia Today piece, borrowed from a BBC article, showed up on their website at 12:31 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday afternoon---and it's the second story today from Roy Stephens.  The folks over at Zero Hedge have spun this story with a headline that reads "It's A Huge Crisis" - The U.K. Oil Industry is "Close to Collapse, People Are Being Laid Off"---and it's courtesy of Manitoba reader U.M.

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E.U. bans investment in Crimea, targets oil sector, cruises

The European Union banned investment in Crimea on Thursday, halting European help for Russian Black Sea oil and gas exploration and outlawing European cruise ships from calling at Crimean ports.

The new measures, which E.U. governments have signed off on and will take effect on Saturday, reinforce the E.U.'s policy of not recognizing Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in March.

E.U. leaders, who meet in Brussels later on Thursday, will pledge to keep up pressure on Russia over its role in Ukraine despite Russia's currency crisis and ailing economy, diplomats said.

The E.U. is outlawing investment in Crimea, preventing Europeans and E.U.-based companies from buying real estate or companies in Crimea or financing Crimean companies, the bloc said in a statement.

This Reuters article, filed from Brussels, appeared on their Internet site at 12:22 p.m. EST on Thursday---and it's the second contribution of the day from reader U.M.

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E.U. Leaders Refuse to Strengthen Sanctions Against Russia: Hollande

E.U. leaders have not made a decision on new sanctions against Russia, and easing of those currently imposed will depend on the situation in Ukraine, French President Francois Hollande stated.

"There were no new sanctions, because they should not be. Easing of sanctions will depend on our affirmation of progress," Hollande told journalists after the E.U. summit in Brussels.

On Thursday, a European diplomat told RIA Novosti that at the summit in Brussels, E.U. heads could discuss reducing sanctions imposed on Russia.

This news item, filed from Brussels, appeared on the sputniknews.com Internet site at 2:18 a.m. Moscow time on their Friday morning---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it to me just before I hit the send button on today's column.

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Swiss Central Bank Plunges Into NIRP, Sends Deposit Rates Negative, Scrambles Against Safe-Haven Capital Flight

Everyone thought that any major monetary policy surprises and/or capital controls today would come from Putin during his annual press conference. Boy were they wrong: just after 2 a.m. Eastern, none other than the Swiss National Bank joined the ranks of the ECB in scrambling to stem the wave of capital flight, not to mention the cost of money, when it announced it too would start charging customers for the privilege of holding cash in its banks, when it revealed a negative, -0.25% interest rate on sight deposits: a step which according to the SNB was critical in maintaining the 1.20 EURCHF floor.

The factors from the "past few days" in question that the SNB was envisioning to justify becoming the latest entrant to the NIRP monetary twilight zone: Russian capital flight. Per Bloomberg, "the SNB move follows Russia’s surprise interest-rate increase this week and hints at the investment pressures that resulted after that decision failed to stem a run on the ruble. Swiss officials acted as the turmoil, along with the imminent threat of quantitative easing from the ECB, kept the franc too close to its 1.20 per euro ceiling for comfort."

“This is not the magic bullet, but will buy them time,” said Peter Rosenstreich, head of market strategy at Swissquote in Gland, Switzerland. “This will relieve pressure from the floor in the short term, but not in the long term.”

This interesting story showed up on the Zero Hedge website at 9:43 a.m. EST yesterday---and it's courtesy of reader M.A.

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Nine charts showing why Greece has to leave the euro

Greeks are heading to the polls again. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has called a snap election to appoint the country's new head of state. Despite only being a symbolic role, the vote for a new president has sent nerves jangling across the eurozone once again.

With the first of a round of three votes completed, the fate of the current moderate centre-right coalition government hangs in the balance. Waiting in the wings is the radical hard-Left Syriza, who have promised to defy the country's bailout terms and whose election could trigger financial panic at the prospect of a 'Grexit' once again.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras says he does not want Greece to leave the euro, but after €245bn (£193bn) in loans and bailouts from the Troika, and one near-debt default later, here are the numbers that show why Greece can't remain in the single currency any longer.

This longish, but very interesting news item was posted on The Telegraph's website at 11:30 a.m. GMT yesterday morning---and it's courtesy of Harry Grant.

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Highlights of Putin's Big Annual Press Conference 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin held the tenth annual press conference earlier today. During the session, Putin discussed important issues that Russia is currently facing: the situation in Ukraine, the fall of the ruble and economic problems, as well as intensifying relations with the West.

This longish, but very worthwhile read put in an appearance on the sputniknews.com Internet site at 3:20 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday afternoon, which was 7:20 a.m. EST.  Reader M.A. was the first person through the door with this story early yesterday morning.

Other stories on this were from Zero Hedge---Putin Defiant, Lashes Out At West, Tells Russians Economy May Stay Weak For Two Years---courtesy of Dan Lazicki.  Also this piece from The Telegraph---Russia will emerge from crisis within two years, says Putin---thanks to Roy Stephens.  And this article from the Russia Today website headlined "Western nations want to chain 'the Russian bear' - Putin"---also thanks to Roy Stephens.

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Pepe Escobar: What Putin is not telling us

Even facing what under any circumstances is a perfect storm; President Putin delivered an extremely measured performance at his annual press conference and Q&A marathon.

The perfect storm evolves in two fronts; an overt economic war – as in siege by sanctions - and a concerted, covert, shadow attack to the heart of the Russian economy. Washington’s endgame is clear: impoverish and defang the adversary and force him to meekly bow to the ‘Empire of Chaos’s’ whims. And bragging about it all the way to “victory.”

The problem is Moscow happens to have impeccably deciphered the game – even before Putin, at the Valdai Club in October, pinned down the Obama doctrine as “our Western partners” working as practitioners of the “theory of controlled chaos.”

This commentary by Pepe easily falls into the absolute must read category---and it was posted on the Russia Today website at 3:25 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday afternoon---and the first reader through the door with this was Roy Stephens, for which I thank him.

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Free Fall of the Ruble: A brilliant ploy of Russian economic Wizards? Who’s chess game? -- Peter Koenig

The world is still hell-bent for hydrocarbon-based energy. Russia is the world’s largest producer of energy. Russia has recently announced that in the future she will no longer trade energy in US dollars, but in rubles and currencies of the trading partners. In fact, this rule will apply to all trading. Russia and China are detaching their economies from that of the West. To confirm this decision, in July 2014 Russia’s Gazprom concluded a 400 billion gas deal with China, and in November this year they signed an additional slightly smaller contract – all to be nominated in rubles and yuan.

The remaining BRICS – Brazil, India and South Africa – plus the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kirgizstan, Uzbekistan and considered for membership since September 2014 are also India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia, with Turkey also waiting in the wings – will also trade in their local currencies, detached from the dollar-based western casino scheme. A host of other nations increasingly weary of the decay of the western financial system which they are locked into are just waiting for a new monetary scheme to emerge. So far their governments may have been afraid of the emperor’s wrath – but gradually they are seeing the light. They are sensing the sham and weakness behind Obama’s boisterous noise. They don’t want to be sucked into the black hole, when the casino goes down the drain.

To punish Russia for Ukraine, Obama is about to sign into law major new sanctions against Russia, following Congress’s unanimous passing of a recent motion to this effect. – That is what the MSM would like you to believe. It is amazing that ten months after the Washington instigated Maidan slaughter and coup where a Washington selected Nazi Government was put in place, the MSM still lies high about the origins of this government and the massacres it is committing in the eastern Ukraine Donbass area.

Congress’s unanimity - what Congress and what unanimity? – Out of 425 lawmakers, only 3 were present for the vote. The others may have already taken off for their year-end recess, or simply were ‘ashamed’ or rather afraid to object to the bill. As a matter of fact, of the three who were present to vote, two at first objected. Only after a bit of arm-twisting and what not, they were willing to say yes. This is how the ‘unanimous’ vote came to be, as trumpeted by the MSM – unanimous by three votes! The public at large is duped again into believing what is not.

This very interesting commentary appeared on the vineyardsaker.blogspot.ca Internet site yesterday---and I thank reader 'David in California' for passing it around just after midnight MST.

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The largest vessel the world has ever seen

Climbing onto the largest vessel the world has ever seen brings you into a realm where everything is on a bewilderingly vast scale and ambition knows no bounds.

Prelude is a staggering 488m long and the best way to grasp what this means is by comparison with something more familiar.

Four football pitches placed end-to-end would not quite match this vessel's length - and if you could lay the 301m of the Eiffel Tower alongside it, or the 443m of the Empire State Building, they wouldn't do so either.

In terms of sheer volume, Prelude is mind-boggling too: if you took six of the world's largest aircraft carriers, and measured the total amount of water they displaced, that would just about be the same as with this one gigantic vessel.

Under construction for the energy giant Shell, the dimensions of the platform are striking in their own right - but also as evidence of the sheer determination of the oil and gas industry to open up new sources of fuel.

Wow!  I was impressed---and I'm not impressed easily.  This amazing article appeared on the bbc.com Internet site on Tuesday sometime---and it's courtesy of South African reader B.V.  I hope, for Shell's sake, that it doesn't turn into a white elephant even before it's finished.

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Nearly 10,000 'cash-for-gold' violations found in six cities across N.J., officials say

About 70 “cash-for-gold” businesses in six cities across New Jersey have received a combined total of nearly 10,000 civil citations for allegedly violating consumer protection laws, officials announced today.

After undercover operations and unannounced inspections, authorities have cited 71 jewelry stores, pawn shops and other businesses in Newark, Paterson, Camden, Irvington, Trenton and Teaneck for various violations.

Each violation carries a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000.

“My message to the stores would be to follow the law,” said Steve Lee, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said today during a press conference in Newark.

This gold-related story put in an appearance on the nj.com Internet site at 1:10 p.m. EST yesterday---and I thank Casey Research's own Jeff Clark for digging it up for us.

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Gold Rebounds From Two-Week Low on Signs of Swiss, China Demand

Spot gold rebounded from a two-week low amid signs of rising physical demand for the metal.

Swiss gold exports climbed to the highest this year, and flows from the U.K. suggest Swiss refineries are working at full capacity to meet demand from Asia, UBS Group AG said in a note today. Trading of the Shanghai Gold Exchange’s benchmark bullion spot contract advanced to the highest since April 2013.

“Physical demand was healthy,” David Govett, head of precious metals at Marex Spectron Group, said in an e-mailed note. “This will keep a floor under gold for the rest of the month.”

This Bloomberg article, co-filed from London and New York, showed up on their website at 12:26 p.m. MST on Thursday---and I thank Ken Hurt for sending it our way.

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Swiss gold exports to China fall to 34 tonnes in November

Switzerland exported 232.2 tonnes of gold in November, according to official Swiss Customs Administration statistics, an increase of 16 percent on the October total and the highest volume this year.

Of those exports, 34.7 tonnes of gold, including gold plated with platinum, in unwrought forms or for non-monetary purposes, was exported to China, down from 42.5 tonnes in the previous month.

Swiss statistics are a good indicator of the volume of metal being shipped into China, which does not publish official figures gold imports.

This very interesting article showed up on the bulliondesk.com Internet site at 11:49 a.m. GMT yesterday---and it definitely worth reading.   I thank reader U.M. for sharing it with us.

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In Serbia's remote east, ancient 'gold rivers' still offer hope

Since ancient times the "gold rivers" of a rural corner of eastern Serbia have drawn prospectors hoping to strike it rich by teasing the precious metal from the area's waterways.

The mountainous, heavily forested region today is poor and depopulated, but a tiny community of panners still eke out a living by coaxing gold flakes -- and the occasional nugget -- from the brisk waters flowing to the Danube River.

"Gold, it's all around here and very good quality at 22 karats," said prospector Nebojsa Trailovic, 59, smiling broadly as he showed off some yellow flecks he had just panned from the Todorova Reka river.

"But it takes lots of work, seven or eight hours per day, your hands in cold water, to extract between 10 and 12 euros ($12 to $15) , about a half gram," said Trailovic.

This AFP story, filed from Debeli Lug in Serbia, showed up on the france24.com Internet site at 7:45 a.m. Europe time this morning---and my thanks go out to South African reader B.V. for sending it to me in the wee hours of this morning MST.

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Indian dealers offer gold discount for first time in five months

Gold importers are offering a discount of $2 an ounce versus London prices for the first time in almost five months due to market oversupply.

Importers generally charge a premium over London prices but demand in the world's second-biggest gold consumer is expected to fall sharply this month after shipments surged in the past three months.

"Supply is in excess but demand is very weak because there are no weddings and festivals until mid January. The overall sentiment is weak," said Prithviraj Kothari, executive director of India Bullion & Jewellers' Association.

The south Asian country imported 151.6 tonnes of gold in November, up nearly 38 percent from October, as traders bought aggressively expecting curbs on overseas purchases.

This Reuters news item, filed from Mumbai, appeared on their website at 6:11 p.m. IST yesterday evening---and it's the final offering of the day from Manitoba reader U.M.---for which I thank her.

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Lawrence Williams: Is Russia really on the ropes -- Could it sell its gold?

The problem with most of those delighting in Russia’s apparent comeuppance for what the West views as its expansionary destabilising tactics in Crimea and Donbass is that they aren’t Russian.  They assume Russians will act like Americans or western Europeans to a financial crisis and come rushing back, cap in hand, to beg forgiveness, return Crimea to its Ukrainian masters and withdraw any troops it may, or may not,  have in Donbass.  They should perhaps listen instead to Sergey Lavrov, the highly plausible and cultured Russian Foreign Minister who comments that Russia has survived such adversities in the past, and come out stronger as a result.

Yes, Lavrov is talking to his, and his masters’,  own political book but he also has a point.  Look at President Putin’s domestic popularity ratings.  They are riding at levels any western politician would give his or her eye teeth for.  Russians are a proud people who feel they were taken to the cleaners by the West pre-Putin during the break-up of the Soviet Union and now have a strong leader in charge who is putting Russia back on the map as a world power.

Russia is not a rich nation by any standards.  True there are some exorbitantly rich individuals and a growing middle class but the bulk of the population remains very poor by Western standards and feels it has nothing to lose anyway.  Those featuring in the Western media as suffering horrendously because their low interest dollar loans may now drive them into bankruptcy as the ruble dives against the dollar are but a minute fraction of the population.  The huge majority of Russians don’t have mortgages or dollar loans and while resultant inflation may eat into what little they do have, as Lavrov points out, they’ve been there before and come out stronger.

This very well written article by Lawrie was something he sent me just before I filed yesterday's column in the wee hours of Thursday morning, but I was so jammed for time that I told him it had to wait for today---and here it is.  It's definitely worth your while.

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¤ The Funnies

Bayfield Ventures Corp. (TSX-V: BYV) is exploring for gold and silver in the Rainy River District of northwestern Ontario.

Bayfield owns 100% of the mineral rights to its flagship "Burns" Block gold-silver project located in the Richardson Township, Rainy River District of northwestern Ontario. The Burns Block is surrounded by New Gold's (TSX: NGD) Rainy River project and adjoins the immediate east of New Gold's multi-million ounce ODM17 gold-silver deposit and adjoins the immediate west of New Gold's expanding Intrepid gold-silver zone.

Notable drill results from Bayfield's 100,000 metre drill program include 60.05 grams per tonne gold and 362.96 grams per tonne silver over 11.2 metres in hole RR11-71, as well as 35.93 grams per tonne gold and 359.65 grams per tonne silver over 10.0 metres in hole RR10-18 located approximately 350 metres to the south with numerous high grade holes drilled in between. Please visit our website for more information.

 

¤ The Wrap

A number of readers asked my opinion on the story circulating about the CME Group instituting various circuit breaker regulations on various metal futures on the COMEX and NYMEX.

Seeing as the CME and the COMEX are the main mechanism of the gold and silver price manipulation, it is prudent to be wary of anything they propose in precious metals trading. And I would agree that any changes the CME propose are most likely for their, as opposed to our, benefit.  I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but these proposed changes by the CME are much ado about nothing.

The circuit breaker revisions that the CME is proposing have nothing to do with daily trading limits. If those circuit breaker limits are hit, the no trading chill out period is for a few minutes, not for the whole day, and will expand as often as necessary to generate trading. I understand the general distrust of the CME (and believe I have contributed to it), but I believe too much is being read into the proposals. After all, there were similar circuit breakers in effect for the last several years, including May 1, 2011 and every big sell-off in COMEX silver and gold. - Silver analyst Ted Butler: 13 December 2014

Well, except for the willfully blind, it was another day where gold got hammered back below its 50-day moving average---and the $1,200 spot mark.  Silver's sojourn above the $16 price mark was also short lived courtesy of JPMorgan et al.  The same can be said for platinum.

Nothing has changed, as 'da boyz' still have a headlock on the precious metals despite world economic, financial and monetary events unfolding that would normally have it over the moon by now.  But that's why these not-for-profit sellers are there, aren't they?

Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals--- plus WTIC.

I have no idea how long this current situation in the precious metals is going to continue, or rather, be allowed to continue.  I have no special clairvoyant powers that allow me to see future events---and I'll happily leave those powers in the hands of the 'lunatic fringe' and their 'excessive hyperbole'.  The fact is that nobody knows, except maybe the powers-that-be, and they're not about to tell us.  But the day that it does come to an end, we won't---as Ted Butler has so eloquently put it---have to ask: "Is this it?" --- as it will be self-evident.

I mentioned the excellent precious metal share price action on Wednesday---and note once again that these particular equities put on a similar show yesterday.  Whether or not it was insiders loading up on cheap shares, or just a matter of them being dragged along for the ride on this melt-up in the general equity markets, because at these price levels I'm still not breaking out the party favours---or prepared to read anything to it.

One thing that I do know for sure, is that the precious metal mining companies will never lift a finger in defence of their shareholders or their industry.  However, I do acknowledge the comments on this issue by Keith Neumeyer over at First Majestic Silver from some months ago, but it's all been talk so far---and no action that I can see. 

Silver analyst Ted Butler, a world authority on such matters, has volunteered to help him wordsmith a letter to the CFTC that would really put the fox amongst the chickens.  But, as of yesterday, Ted's phone hasn't rung---and there's nothing in his in-box.

It's at events and times such as these that a quote from Susan B. Anthony comes to mind---and one that has graced this column many times since I began to write for Casey Research over eight years ago.  It's been a few years, so here it is again:

"Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates---and bear the consequences."

Amen to that!

And as I write this paragraph, the London open is just under twenty minutes away.  Gold poked its nose about a dollar above the $1,200 mark in afternoon trading in the Far East on their Friday, but is now below it again.  Silver's 'rally' is now approaching $16 the ounce---and platinum and palladium aren't doing anything.  It's a 'nothing' market at the moment, not a creature is stirring.

Gold volume is miniscule---just under 13,000 contracts.  Silver's volume is a hair under 3,000 contracts---and the dollar index has barely moved through the entire Far East trading session on their Friday.  No creature stirring here, either.

Today we get the latest Commitment of Traders Report for positions held at the 1:30 p.m. EST close of COMEX trading on Tuesday.  Hopefully, all the big price/volume action from Monday and Tuesday will be in it---and I'm expecting to see some decent improvement in the Commercial net short positions in both gold and silver.  But, more importantly, it will be changes under the hood that Ted will be looking for---and I'll certainly be talking to him about it later this afternoon.  Whatever the numbers show will be in my Saturday column.

And as I send this out the door at 5:15 a.m. EST I see that very little has happened during the first two hours of London trading---and the prices of all four precious metals are still more less hovering around their closing prices in New York on Thursday afternoon.  Gold volume is just over 20,000 contracts---and silver's volume is 4,700 contracts.  The dollar index is up 8 basis points at the moment.  Nothing to see here once again.

Since today is Friday---and the precious metal market has been as quiet as the proverbial church mouse up to this point---I'm not really expecting much in the way of price action for the remainder of the day.  But, having said that, we've had a couple of Friday surprises in the last six weeks---and I must admit that my "Spidey senses" are still tuned for just such an event.

Before heading off to bed, I'd like to point out that Casey Research's energy guru Marin Katusa is shouting from the rooftops about making 25 percent return on a certain stock---or your money back!  It certainly cost nothing to check out this investment opportunity---and you can find out all about it by clicking here, which I urge you to do.

That's all I have for today.  Enjoy your weekend, or what's left of it if you live west of the International Date Line---and I'll see you here tomorrow.

Ed Steer

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