Gold News

Gold Price Seen Flat in 12 Months by LBMA Conference, Silver "Deeply Oversold" as FX Fines Hit Major Bullion Banks

GOLD PRICES held around $1167 per ounce in London on Wednesday, trading near the upper-end of the last week's 4% range as Western stock markets slipped after regulators imposed heavy fines on 5 global banks for manipulating currency-market benchmarks.
 
The UK's FCA and United States' CFTC settled with Citibank (NYSE:C), Royal Bank of Scotland (LON:RBS), J.P.Morgan (NYSE:JMP), HSBC (LON:HSBA) and UBS (VTX:UBSN)  – the last three of whom are also bullion market makers – for a total of $3.4 billion "for failing to control business practices" in their foreign exchange (FX) operations.
 
"This isn't the end of the story," chief UK regulator Martin Wheatley told the BBC.
 
"The individuals themselves will face the consequences."
 
Major UK bank and bullion market-maker Barclays (LON:BARC), currently named with HSBC in New York lawsuits accusing manipulation of the London Fix gold price benchmark, refused to agree with regulators on today's FX fines, instead "seeking a more general coordinated settlement."
 
Swiss bank UBS was further fined CHF134m ($140m) today by its national regulator FINMA for abusing gold and silver clients, as well as FX customers, by front-running their orders, falsely filling stop-losses, and seeking to manipulate benchmark prices.
 
Annual bonus payments to UBS currency and precious metals staff will be restricted to a maximum 200% of basic salary.
 
UK central bank the Bank of England today published the findings of an investigation into its own FX traders, concluding that record-keeping and reporting of wrong-doing, like education on regulation and best practice, are very weak.
 
With UK regulations set from next spring to cover London's daily gold and silver prices – established over a century ago as the "Fixes" – "We had these very established market benchmark methodologies but they needed to change, we needed more transparency,” a managing director at a major bank said on the sidelines of the leading industry conference yesterday.
 
"We've come out of this process with three different administrators," Fastmarkets quotes the unnamed bullion bank source, pointing to the new silver benchmark managed by CME/Thomson Reuters, the platinum and palladium pricing overseen by the LME, and the gold benchmark to be run from early 2015 by ICE's specialist IBA division.
 
The 3-way split means " our compliance departments are trying to figure out which rules they have to follow," the source said.
 
Delegates of the London Bullion Market Association's annual conference – held this year in Lima, Peru – concluded by making an average gold price forecast of $1200 per ounce by this time in 2015.
 
Consistently chasing recent patterns, rather than predicting them accurately, the annual LBMA conference's gold price forecast has been for 8% gains on average since the 2011 peak.
 
The gold price out-turn, in contrast, has been a 12% average annual drop.
 
This year's LBMA attendees – the fewest since at least 2009 – also forecast on average that silver prices will rally to $17 per ounce by November 2015.
 
That would still only put the Gold/Silver Ratio – currently near 5-year highs at 75 – back down to 70 ounces of silver per 1 ounce of gold, well above the last 20 years' average of 60.
 
"Silver looking deeply oversold," says Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi's precious metals analyst Jonathan Butler in a new quarterly report, asking clients if it isn't "time for bargain hunting?
 
"Although the macroeconomic outlook is negative for silver as a risk hedge, it is favourable due to its demand fundamentals," says Butler, "and we anticipate economic growth will help lift industrial offtake for the metal in the medium term."
 
Even so, Mitsubishi has cut its year-end silver price forecast to $16.20 per ounce, with the 2015 average now seen down at $15.80.
 
"The downtrend remains intact," says a new technical reading from French bank and London market-maker Societe Generale, adding that silver prices – on a Fibonacci analysis – are "poised to extend further towards $14.50...the 76.4% retracement of the uptrend from 2000 to 2011."

Adrian Ash is director of research at BullionVault, the physical gold and silver market for private investors online. Formerly head of editorial at London's top publisher of private-investment advice, he was City correspondent for The Daily Reckoning from 2003 to 2008, and is now a regular contributor to many leading analysis sites including Forbes and a regular guest on BBC national and international radio and television news. Adrian's views on the gold market have been sought by the Financial Times and Economist magazine in London; CNBC, Bloomberg and TheStreet.com in New York; Germany's Der Stern; Italy's Il Sole 24 Ore, and many other respected finance publications.

See the full archive of Adrian Ash articles on GoldNews.

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