Unfortunately, none of these budding rallies were allowed to get far

The gold price got sold down about five dollars starting around 9 a.m. Hong Kong time in Far East trading on their Tuesday morning.  The low tick of the day came at, or just after, the morning gold “fix” in London at 10:30 a.m. BST.  The subsequent rally got sold down at 10:45 a.m. EST, the same time as it got sold down in Monday trading.  The New York low came about twenty minutes after the COMEX close—and it rallied a few dollars into the 5:15 p.m. close of electronic trading.

The high and low tick were reported as $1,190.10 and $1,178.20 in the April contract.

Gold closed in New York at $1,182.70 spot, down $2.30 from Monday's close.  Net volume was around 104,000 contracts.

The silver price rallied a few cents in early Far East trading before the not-for-profit sellers appeared at 9:00 a.m. Hong Kong time—just like in gold.  The low tick came shortly before noon over there—and it crawled higher until the London a.m. fix was put to bed and rallied until “da boyz” showed up at 10:45 a.m. EDT, just like gold—and just like what happened to the silver price on Monday.  The low in New York came just before the COMEX close—and it rallied about a nickel as the electronic trading session wound down.

The low and highs were recorded by the CME Group as $16.435 and $16.82 in the May contract.

Platinum's tiny rally in early Far East trading also got sold off starting around 9 a.m. Hong Kong time—and then starting at 10 a.m. Zurich time, the platinum price began a rally that had mostly topped out by noon in New York.  From there it chopped sideways into the 5:15 p.m. EDT close of electronic trading.  Platinum closed on Tuesday at $1,141 spot, up 23 dollars on the day—gaining back everything it lost on Monday, plus a few dollars extra.

The palladium price had rallied five bucks up until 9 a.m. in Hong Kong trading—and then it chopped sideways until the COMEX opened.  It got sold back down below Monday's close in very short order, but quickly rebounded and finished the Tuesday session at $734 spot, up 8 bucks on the day.

The dollar index closed late on Monday afternoon in New York at 97.96—and chopped down to its 97.88 low minutes before 9 a.m. Hong Kong time, which occurred at the high tick for all four precious metals in Far East trading on their Tuesday.  The 98.63 high that followed came around 10:35 a.m. BST in London, which was right at the London a.m. gold fix.  From that high, the index was sold down about 25 basis points by 12:20 p.m. BST—and from there chopped sideways for the remainder of the Tuesday session, closing at 98.38, which was up 42 basis points on the day.

The gold stocks opened in slightly positive territory, but once the gold price was turned lower at 10:45 a.m. EDT, the stocks followed and never recovered, as the HUI closed down another 1.67 percent, it's sixth losing session in a row.

The silver equities got a taste of positive territory, but the roof caved in at 10:45 a.m. in New York, just like for the gold stock—and the silver shares hit their low at the 1:30 p.m. COMEX close.  They managed to struggle higher, cutting their losses on the day by just over a percent, but Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index still closed down another 1.96 percent.

For the month, Nick advised me that HUI was down 16.94 percent—and his Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed lower by 13.33 percent.  Year-to-date [Q1] the HUI is down 2.70 percent—and his silver stock index is down 3.68 percent.

The CME Daily Delivery Report for Day 2 of the April delivery month was another surprise, as it showed that only 1 gold, along with zero silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Thursday.  I'm wondering out loud why the short/issuers are sitting on their hands.  They're the ones that are under the gun to deliver the physical metal to the long/stoppers—and as Ted Butler has pointed out, there is no benefit whatsoever for them to hold out.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Tuesday trading session showed that gold open interest in April fell by 1,925 contracts—and now sits at 5,423 contracts still open.  Silver o.i. in April increase by 20 yesterday—and is now up to 130 contracts open in the current delivery month.

There were no reported changes in GLD yesterday, but there was another big withdrawal from SLV, as 1,912,954 troy ounces were reported taken out by an authorized participant.

Over at Switzerland's Zürcher Kantonalbank for the week ending on Friday, March 27, they reported a small increase in their gold ETF—but a big decline in their silver ETF.  They added 7,210 troy ounces of gold, but a whopping 750,931 troy ounces was removed from their silver ETF—and that was after an addition in the prior week, the first one in years.

The U.S. Mint had a sales report for the last trading day of the month.  They 2,500 troy ounces of gold eagles—1,000 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes—and another 314,000 silver eagles.

For the month of March, the mint sold 46,500 troy ounces of gold eagles—9,500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes—and a very healthy 3,519,000 silver eagles.  Based on these sales, the silver/gold ratio works out to just under 63 to 1.  I would guess that JPMorgan, or other large buyers, own more than half of all the silver eagles produced this year, as they're not being purchased the general investing public.

Year-to-date [Q1] the mint has sold 12,071,000 silver eagles—146,000 troy ounces of gold eagles—and 56,000 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes.

Over at the North American COMEX-approved depositories, there was 32,150.000 troy ounces reported received—1,000 kilobars—and 2,411.250 troy ounces [76 kilobars] were shipped out.  All of the activity was at Canada's Scotiabank.  The link to that activity is here.

At Brink's, Inc. Hong Kong, they reported receiving 2,797 gold kilobars—and shipped out 6,250 gold kilobars.  The link to that activity in troy ounces is here.

In silver, nothing was reported received—and 429,177 troy ounces were shipped out the door.  The link to that action is here.

I have a more reasonable number of stories for you today—and I hope you'll find a few in here that you like.

The unusual physical movement in the COMEX silver warehouses was joined this past week by the unusual withdrawals in metal in the big silver ETF, SLV. Close to 3.5 million oz were removed from the trust’s holdings over the past week or so. What makes it unusual is that silver prices were notably strong over this period, most plausibly caused by net new buying. (If the rise was caused by short covering, there would be no change in metal holdings). The mechanical structure of SLV dictates that net new buying must result in additional deposits of metal into the trust (unless shares are sold short). The only possible explanation that comes to mind for the net new buying of shares resulting in metal being withdrawn would be if the net new buyer quickly redeemed new shares purchased into actual metal. That’s exactly what I think occurred this week and what has occurred frequently in the past in SLV. And my best guess is that JPMorgan is the big SLV buyer.

The frequent and extremely counterintuitive circumstance of apparent net new buying of shares of SLV resulting in withdrawals (instead of deposits of metal) seems motivated by the large buyer desiring to avoid disclosing ownership when the 5% share ownership is exceeded and must be reported by SEC rules. By converting shares of SLV into actual metal, the metal ownership can grow to any large level imaginable and remain unknown and unreported to the rest of the investment world. And no one would be in a better position to pull this off than JPMorgan. I suppose that’s why I’m the only one to point out that JPMorgan holds a larger physical silver position than ever held privately in history.Silver analyst Ted Butler: 28 March 2015

I must admit that I was expecting worse than we got during the New York session yesterday, as there was decent positive price action in both gold and silver on the last trading day of the month.  Unfortunately, none of these budding rallies were allowed to get far—and both metals were closed down on the day, as were there respective equities.  That problem didn't exist for platinum.

Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals once again.

And as I write this paragraph, the London open is ten minutes away.  After doing nothing in the first two hours of trading in the Far East on their Wednesday morning, a rally began that ended at 11 a.m. Hong Kong time—and it's been chopping lower ever since, but is still up a couple of bucks from Tuesday's close.  The price path for silver was similar, but more subdued—and it's back to close to unchanged as well.  Platinum and palladium have shown no signs of life at all, in either direction.

Net gold volume is a hair under 16,000 contracts—and silver's net volume is sitting at 4,000 contracts.  The dollar index chopped more or less sideways until 8:30 a.m. Tokyo time—and began to slide from there—and is currently down 25 basis points, and just above the 98.00 mark.

Yesterday was the cut-off for this Friday's Commitment of Traders Report—and I expect that all of yesterday's price/volume data will show up in it.  Just eye-balling the two charts above for the reporting week just past, it would be logical to assume that we'll see further improvement in the Commercial net short positions in both metals.  It's a certainty in silver, but after last week's COT Report in gold, I'm not about to stick my neck out, as both Ted and I were wrong by more than the proverbial country mile last week.

And as I hit the send button on today's missive at 5:15 p.m. EDT, I note that gold, silver and platinum are trending lower—and are all back below their Tuesday closing prices in New York—and palladium is up five bucks.  Net gold volume is around 23,000 contracts—and silver's net volume is 7,600 contracts.  The dollar index, which had been down 23 basis points earlier, is now up 20 points—and almost back at yesterday's high.

With March and Q1 now in the rear-view mirror—and the COT Report showing things more or less locked and loaded for a rally of some sort—we now await developments.  I'm not sure what to expect, or when, but I doubt we'll be kept in suspense for long.

I'm off to bed—and I'll see you here tomorrow.

Ed Steer

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Sunday was the first day where we had reasonable weather on the same day that I didn't have to write a column, so out I went, camera in hand after I'd done the radio interview with Dave Janda I posted in the Critical Reads section above.  There were lots of chickadees, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers—and squirrels.  Even a rabbit put in an appearance.  I used a 400 mm lens for all these shots—and most are taken at its minimum focus distance which is just under 4 meters, or 11.5 feet, so there's less than 3 inches/7 cm of usable depth of field in almost all these shots.  It was cloudy, so I was using a flash for fill light.

Here are three shots of downy woodpeckers.  The first two are of different females—and the last one is obviously the male.  I would rather have photographed it with something other than a suet cage in the photo, but he never presented himself in a position where I could, so this the only shot I have.  Maybe next time I'll get luckier.