A Huge Delivery Month For Gold

02 February 2019 — Saturday

YESTERDAY in GOLD, SILVER, PLATINUM and PALLADIUM


It was a very quiet day for gold yesterday.  It was down about four bucks by the London open, but crawled back to the unchanged mark by shortly after 11 a.m. GMT — and didn’t do much of anything on the job report number released at 8:30 a.m. in New York.  But once the afternoon gold fix was done in London, it was kicked downstairs by a small handful of dollars — and from there it edged very quietly sideways until trading ended at 5:00 p.m. EST.

The low and high ticks definitely aren’t worth looking up.

Gold finished the Friday session at $1,317.10 spot, down $3.60 from Thursday’s close.  Net volume was fairly light at a hair under 193,000 contracts — and roll-over/switch volume added up to around 7,800 contracts.

The silver price didn’t do much of anything during the first two hours once trading began at 6:00 p.m. EST in New York on Thursday evening.  But minutes after 9 a.m. China Standard Time it was sold lower — and was down 14 cents or so [and back below $16 spot] by minutes before the London open.  It rallied a bit from there, but was still down on the day when the job numbers hit the tape.  The silver price tried to jump higher on a couple of occasions shortly after that, but was batted lower both times it poked its nose above the $16 spot mark.  Like for gold, it was sold a bit lower after the afternoon gold fix — and it crept quietly lower from there until a few minutes after 2 p.m. in the thinly-traded after-hours market — and didn’t do anything after that.

Silver was forced to trade within a one percent price range on Friday, so I won’t bother with the high and low ticks in this precious metal, either.

Silver was closed yesterday in New York at $15.87 spot, down 15.5 cents on the day.  Net volume was fairly elevated at a bit over 61,000 contracts — and there was a bit over 9,500 contracts worth of roll-over/switch volume in this precious metal.

The platinum price was sold lower by a few dollars in morning trading in the Far East, but began to edge higher from there — and began to rally with more intensity starting at 2 p.m. CET in Zurich, which was twenty minutes before the COMEX open in New York.  It chopped higher from that point — and platinum’s high came very shortly after the Zurich close.  But a willing seller appeared a few minutes later — and the price headed lower until a bit after 3 p.m. in after-hours trading — and it didn’t do a lot after that.  Platinum was closed at $821 spot, up a dollar on the day — and off its high tick by 9 bucks.

Palladium was up a few dollars in Far East trading, but its mid-morning rally in Zurich got sold off — and it was up only five bucks or so by around 1:15 CET in Zurich.  The rally that began at that juncture was a bit more impressive, but was capped and turned lower shortly before the afternoon gold fix in London.  That sell-off lasted until a few minutes before 1 p.m. in New York — and edged a few dollars higher into the 5 p.m. EST close from there.  Palladium finished the Friday session at $1,335 spot, up 10 dollars on the day, but off its high tick by 18 bucks.

As I’ve commented on numerous occasions over the last few months, someone doesn’t want the palladium price to run away to the upside, despite the obvious supply/demand fundamentals.

The dollar index closed very late on Thursday afternoon in New York at 95.58 — and opened down a couple of basis points once trading began at 7:45 p.m. EST/8:45 a.m. in Shanghai on their Friday morning.  It crawled a bit higher from there until the 95.66 high tick was set [such as it was] around 12:55 p.m. China Standard Time.  It began to head quietly lower from there — and spiked up a bit at 8:30 a.m. in New York when the jobs report came out.  The moment it broke above unchanged on the day, it was hammered to its 95.40 low tick a few minutes later.  From that point it began to head very erratically higher — and that lasted until around 2:10 p.m. EST — and it didn’t do much after that.  It finished the day back at unchanged…at 95.58.

Here’s the DXY chart courtesy of Bloomberg once again — and despite all the squiggles, not much of anything happened….although it certainly appeared that those ‘gentle hands’ were present on the two low price spikes after the jobs report came out.  Click to enlarge.

And here’s the 6-month U.S. dollar index chart courtesy of stockcharts.com — and the delta between its close…95.30…and the close on the DXY chart above, was 28 basis points on Friday.  Click to enlarge.

The gold shares opened unchanged, but began to sell off immediately — and their respective lows came shortly before 11 a.m. in New York trading.  From that point they rallied quietly and unevenly right into the 4:00 p.m. EST close.  The HUI closed down 0.68 percent.

The silver equities followed an almost identical price path as their golden brethren, but their respective rallies off their lows of the day, petered out at the 1:30 p.m. EST COMEX close — and they chopped quietly sideways for the remainder of the Friday session.  Nick Laird’s Intraday Silver Sentiment/Silver 7 Index closed down 1.16 percent.  Click to enlarge if necessary.

And here’s the 1-year Silver Sentiment/Silver 7 Index chart from Nick as well.  Click to enlarge.

The CME Daily Delivery Report for Day 3 of the February delivery month showed that 2,254 gold and 55 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on the U.S. east coast on Tuesday.

In gold, of the nine short/issuers in total, the only one that really mattered was JPMorgan, with 2,006 contracts out of its client account — and in very distant second place was Advantage with 107 contracts…also out of its client account.  Of the nine long/stoppers, the largest was also JPMorgan, with 1,276 contracts in total…669 for its own account, plus another 607 for its client account.  In second spot was Citigroup, stopping 606 contracts for its own account.  Morgan Stanley came in third, with 216 contracts…206 for its in-house/proprietary trading account — and ten for its client account.

In silver, the three long/stoppers were JPMorgan, Advantage — and ADM, with 27, 18 and 10 contracts out of their respective client accounts.  There were five long/stoppers —  and the two biggest were JPMorgan and Advantage as well…stopping 24 and 16 contracts for their respective client accounts.

In gold so far this month, JPMorgan has issued 2,836 contracts…all out of its client account — and they’ve stopped 4,834 contracts in total…2,452 contracts for their own account, plus another 2,382 contracts for clients.

The other big long/stopper in gold this month has been Citigroup with 2,295 for its own account.  Another big short/issuer was Goldman Sachs, with 4,005 contracts out of its own account as well.

In the first three delivery days in February, there have been 8,489 gold contracts issued and stopped — and that number in silver is 394.  JPMorgan has stopped over half of all these contracts, either for its own account, or for clients.

And just as point of interest, there were 1,533 copper contracts issued yesterday as well…all by JPMorgan out of its in-house/proprietary trading account.

I would think that Ted will have something to say about “all of the above” in his weekly missive later today.

The link to yesterday’s Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Friday trading session showed that gold open interest in February fell by 5,228 contracts, leaving 3,851 still open, minus the 2,254 contracts mentioned a few paragraphs ago.  Thursday’s Daily Delivery Report showed that 5,296 gold contracts were posted for delivery on Monday, so that means that 5,296-5,228=68 more gold contracts were just added to the February delivery month.  Silver o.i. in February declined by 32 contracts, leaving 143 still around, minus the 55 mentioned a few paragraphs ago.  Thursday’s Daily Delivery Report showed that 53 silver contracts were actually posted for delivery on Monday.  That means that 53-32=21 more silver contracts were added to February.


And after two days of no deposits into GLD, an authorized participant actually removed 207,904 troy ounces on Friday.  I would suspect that this withdrawal represented a conversion of GLD shares for physical metal — and I’m wondering who that might be.  Ted may or may not say something about this in his weekly commentary this afternoon.  There were no reported changes in SLV.

There was a small sales report from the U.S. Mint on Friday.  They sold 1,000 troy ounces of gold eagles — 30,000 silver eagles — and 500 one-ounce platinum eagles.

There was no in/out movement in gold over at the COMEX-approved depositories on the U.S. east coast on Thursday.  But there was a paper transfer of 58,356 troy ounces from the Eligible category — and into Registered.  That would certainly be related to February deliveries.  The link to that is here.

There was some activity in silver.  Nothing was reported received — and 726,159 troy ounces was shipped out.  There was 710,540 troy ounces that departed CNT — and the remaining 15,618 troy ounces left Delaware.  The link to that is here.

There wasn’t much going on over at the COMEX-approved gold kilobar depositories in Hong Kong on their Thursday.  Nothing was reported received — and only 50 were shipped out.  This occurred at Brink’s, Inc. of course — and I won’t bother linking this small amount.


Here are two charts that Nick sent around very late on Thursday night that I didn’t have room for in Friday’s column, so here they are now.  They show U.S. Mint sales updated with January’s data.  The gold sales include both gold eagles and buffaloes — and the year is off to a slightly better start than it was in January of 2017 in both precious metals.   Click to enlarge for both.

The Commitment of Traders Report for position held at the close of COMEX trading on December 24, 2018 came out yesterday — and it turned out as Ted said it would…more Managed Money buying and Commercial selling.

The brain-dead/moving-average following Managed Money traders increased their long position in gold by a hefty 30,770 contracts — and in silver, the went long to the tune of 7,023 contracts.

The commercial net short positions rose by 35,544 contracts in gold — and 4,393 contracts in silver during that week.

Ted said that if JPMorgan added to their short position in silver during that reporting week, it was by an inconsequential amount — and if they did in gold, it wasn’t a lot, either.

As of that report, which is about six weeks out of date, the Commercial net short position in silver is now up to 39,869 contracts, or 199.3 million troy ounces of paper silver.  In gold, the Commercial net short position is now up to 128,219 contracts, or 12.82 million troy ounces of paper gold.

Of course the commercial net short positions in both these precious metals are far bigger now — and as Ted said on the phone yesterday afternoon, if we do get an engineered price decline, it won’t have anything to do with supply or demand, the dollar, or the stock market, or the price of tea in China.  It will be strictly a COMEX paper affair as it always has been in the past.

And if gold rallies from here, it will be for exactly the same reason.

I’m not posting any charts, as they’re meaningless.

We get the next COT Report on Tuesday and, like the one above, it’s meaningless as well — and I’ll just be hitting the highlights in my Wednesday column.


The Chimera of Arezzo is regarded as the best example of ancient Etruscan artwork. British art historian, David Ekserdjian, described the sculpture as “one of the most arresting of all animal sculptures and the supreme masterpiece of Etruscan bronze-casting.” Made entirely of bronze and measuring 78.5 cm high with a length of 129 cm, it was found alongside a small collection of other bronze statues in Arezzo, an ancient Etruscan and Roman city in Tuscany. The statue was originally part of a larger sculptural group representing a fight between a Chimera and the Greek hero Bellerophon. This sculpture was likely created as a votive offering to the Etruscan god Tinia.

Discovered on November 15, 1553 by constructions workers near the San Lorentio gate in Arezzo (ancient Arretium), the sculpture was quickly claimed for the collection of the Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I, who placed it publicly in the Palazzo Vecchio in the hall of Leo X. Cosimo also placed the smaller bronzes from the trove in his own studio at Palazzo Pitti, where “the Duke took great pleasure in cleaning them by himself, with some goldsmith’s tools,” as Benvenuto Cellini reported in his autobiography. On discovery, the statue was missing the snake and its left front and rear paws. Due to its fragmented state upon discovery, the statue was originally regarded as a lion. Italian painter Giorgio Vasari tracked down the statue motif by studying Ancient Greek and Roman coins, such as a silver stater featuring an image of the Chimera, thus accurately identifying it.

Eventually, it was officially identified as being a part of a larger piece illustrating a fight between the Chimera and the Greek hero Bellerophon. The sculpture was found among other small pieces that served as votive offerings to the God Tinia. This sculpture may also have served as an Etruscan religious dedication. After discovery, it began its residence in Florence where it remained until its transportation in 1718 to the Uffizi Palace. Since 1870, the Chimaera of Arezzo has made its home at the National Archaeological Museum in Florence. As the sculpture made its way through the Florence museums, it increasingly attracted the attention of both artists and historians. Click to enlarge.

It was another slow news day — and I don’t have much.  But I do have another Cohen/Batchelor interview this week.


CRITICAL READS

Is America Really the “Good Guy”? — Bill Bonner

The week went by so fast!

Stocks got a big boost on Wednesday, on news of an impending trade deal with China. Then too, Jerome Powell announced that if anything was going to ruin the party on Wall Street, it wouldn’t be the Fed. Rate hikes are off the table… for now.

And so, yesterday, stocks closed out their best month in two years. But prices are still below the highs of last year… and stocks are still, presumably, in a long-term bear market.

If we’re right about this, your equities will probably decline by 50-90% over the next few years… and take about 15 years to recover, if they ever do.

When the primary trend is down, all you can do is get out of town.

This commentary by Bill showed up on the bonnerandpartners.com Internet site on Friday morning — and another link to it is here.


Doug Noland: No Mystery

The Fed Chairman was prepared to hold his ground, but the ground was suddenly giving way. Between the December 19th and January 30th FOMC meetings, acute systemic fragilities were revealed.

Not to dismiss economic weakness in China and Europe – or even tenuous U.S./Chinese trade talks and the government shutdown. But January 3rd was pivotal, not coincidentally the wild market session ahead of Chairman Powell’s January 4th U-turn. Recall the currency market “flash crash” – with an 8% intraday move in the yen vs. Australian dollar, along with the dramatic widening of credit spreads (and a 19bps surge in Goldman Sachs CDS prices). Markets were careening toward dislocation.

Chairman Powell appeared somewhat downtrodden during his Wednesday press conference, a notable shift from his confident demeanor in December. We can assume Powell and other Fed officials have been alarmed by how swiftly booming securities markets succumb to instability and illiquidity. I believe Powell wanted to see markets begin standing on their own; that, in contrast with his three most-recent predecessors, he would be in no rush to come to the markets’ defense. He was content to see overheated markets commence the cooling process. A correction would actually be constructive for system stability. The predicament: Overinflated Bubbles don’t calmly deflate.

Circumstances forced the Fed’s hand. Old fears soon reemerged of escalating market instability getting ahead of the Fed. Better to act quickly before market/liquidity issues turned intricate and precarious.

This very worthwhile commentary by Doug was posted on his Internet site in the wee hours of Saturday morning — and another link to it is here.


The U.S. aggression against Venezuela as a diagnostic tool — The Saker

The Neocons never cease to amaze me and their latest stunt with Venezuela falls into this bizarre category of events which are both absolutely unthinkable and simultaneously absolutely predictable.  This apparent logical contradiction is the direct result of a worldview and mindset which is, I believe, unique to the Neocons: a mix of imperial hubris and infinite arrogance, a complete lack of decency, a total contempt for the rest of mankind, crass ignorance, a narcissist/sociopath’s inability to have any kind of empathy or imagine another guy’s reaction and, finally, last but most certainly not least, crass stupidity.  There is so much which can be said about the latest U.S. aggression on Venezuela that entire books could be (and will be) written about this, but I want to begin by look at a few specific but nonetheless very symptomatic aspects:

“In your face” stupidity or boot camp-like deliberate public humiliation?

Remember the almost universal reaction of horror when Bolton was appointed as National Security Advisor?  Well, apparently, either the Neocons completely missed that, which I doubt, or they did what they always do and decided to double-down by retrieving Elliott Abrams from storage and appointing him U.S. Special Envoy to Venezuela.  I mean, yes, of course, the Neocons are stupid and sociopathic enough not to ever care about others, but in this case I think that we are dealing with a “Skripal tactic”: do something so ridiculously stupid and offensive that it places all your vassals before a stark choice: either submit and pretend like you did not notice or, alternatively, dare to say something and face with wrath of Uncle Shmuel (the Neocon’s version of Uncle Sam).  And it worked, in the name of “solidarity” or whatever else, the most faithful lackeys of the Empire immediate fell in line behind the latest U.S. aggression against a sovereign nation in spite of the self-evident fact that this aggression violates every letter of the most sacred principles of international law.  This is exactly the same tactic as when they make you clean toilets with a toothbrush or do push-ups in the mud during basic training: not only to condition you to total obedience, but to make you publicly give up any semblance of dignity.

This is not just a case of history repeating itself like a farce, however.  It is hard to overstate how totally offensive a character like Elliott Abrams is for every Latin American who remembers the bloody U.S. debacle in Nicaragua.  U.S. vassals now have to give up any type of pretend-dignity in front of their own people and act as if Abrams was a respectable and sane human being.

This long rant, which is right on the money in my opinion, appeared on thesaker.is Internet site on Wednesday — and I thought it best to save it for my Saturday missive.  It’s definitely worth reading — and another link to it is here.


E.U. charges eight banks over alleged government bond cartel

The European Union’s antitrust authority has charged eight unnamed banks with operating a cartel in trading euro zone government bonds between 2007 and 2012, years when the financial crisis dragged down banks and countries.

The European Commission said in a statement that some traders at the banks exchanged commercially sensitive information and coordinated trading strategies on the euro-denominated bonds, mainly through online chatrooms.

The move by the European Commission’s powerful antitrust arm is the latest blow to the public image of Europe’s banks, which have paid out billions of euros in fines, including for rigging interest rate benchmarks used to price home loans.

If found guilty of breaching E.U. antitrust rules, the banks could face fines up to 10 percent of their global turnover.

This Reuters story, co-filed from Brussels and Frankfurt, put in an appearance on their Internet site at 6:01 a.m. EST on Thursday morning — and I plucked it from a GATA dispatch.  Another link to it is here.


Controversial Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Could Be Operational By November

In what would be an early geopolitical win for Moscow, German news agency DW reported yesterday, citing one of the project’s engineers, that the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline should be operational by November.

Klaus Haussmann, an engineer at Nord Stream 2’s future landfall site at Lubmin on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, told German public radio station Deutschlandfunk that the “raw” laying of the pipeline would be finished by the middle of 2019, according to the DW report. “Then comes the entire installation of the electrical equipment, security chains. And, then it’s planned on the large scale that we get the first conduit filled with gas in November, from Russia,” Haussmann said.

Haussmann said his concern was more the impact of the Baltic’s winter weather and waves on construction at sea and less so the international pros and cons. “For two years or more, Nord Stream 2 has been pretty much under fire. But at the moment we have more worries with the weather outside,” he said.

This interesting article appeared on the oilprice.com Internet site on Wednesday afternoon Central Standard Time — and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.  Another link to it is here.


Tales of the New Cold War: Russia’s disillusion with U.S. conduct 2001-2018 — John Batchelor interviews Stephen F. Cohen

Part 1:  John Batchelor’s introduction concerns the history of Russia in the titled time period about how the modern Russian economy and its relationship to the Kremlin had evolved to its present form. This theme initially focuses on the energy sector of the country, and he asks the question: what does this mean for American foreign policy? The Washington demonization of Russia in general, and the energy sanctions imposed on Russia and indirectly on Russia’s energy markets specifically is tantamount to sanctioning these countries’ “gas station”. This is of vital economic concern to all parties including Washington, as the impacts on Washington’s “allies” are very important. But with the fall of the Soviet Union the question for the Kremlin was whether or not the energy sector, metaphorically the “Russian crown jewels” should be turned over to the private sector or continue to be controlled by the state. And there was an effort by the corporate sector to gain control of it under Yeltsin. Not all of these entities are even run by Russians. His question then becomes what would have happened if the energy sector in Russia went completely private?

Cohen responded that from Czarist times right up to the present Russia had a mixed market economy with the state and private interests owning industry. This was also the reality under the communist system. Cohen maintains that the Czars pushed for the industrialization of Russia and this continued under the Soviet regime, although the “jewels of Russia”, energy, remained in state control. But only in America does the state not control its energy industry. He also maintains that state control of the energy sector is detrimental to other economic sectors. The reason for this is that when there is a single main source of state wealth  income is subject to unstable swings in price. Initially, the chaos of the Yeltsin years saw much of this privatized and it was Putin that re-established control by the state.

But Batchelor responds that Russia’s energy wealth causes moderating geopolitical relations – for example with Germany. This relationship is vital for much of Europe, argues Cohen, and whether Putin “stole” the industry from oligarchs (many foreign companies as well) is debatable. But it is also arguable that this also saved Russia for Russians, and made it a great global power. Russian energy resources enabled this.

Part 2:  John Batchelor’s second introduction opens with a discussion about Russian support for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan after 9/11, and its loud opposition to Washington’s plans to again invade Iraq. Putin was most vociferous that all could be handled diplomatically. For Cohen the Iraq war was a multi-front catastrophe for the U.S., for the region, and also the first major blow for Russians that their romantic notions about America were wrong. It was with this war that Russians first started to think that America was a danger in the world. He goes on to state that Afghanistan was somewhat different in that the Soviet Kremlin saw the regime as unstable and a source for terrorism. In this same light Putin also saw Afghanistan under the Taliban as a similar threat, and a source of heroin right on Russia’s border that is a social problem for Russia. Putin looked on the American presence there as security for Russia. Similarly, he states that Putin does not want to see the Americans leave Syria where it is also fighting terrorists. With the Americans leaving both areas, Russia is all alone, and terrorism activities could spread to Russia. That Washington is unprepared to cooperate at all with Russia is seen as a kind of doomsday goal.

The topic then shifts to the church in Russia, and Batchelor asks “whether the church is vital to Russia’s reawakening”? Cohen agrees in that it is very powerful and is gradually gaining back its role it enjoyed in czarism times. However, it is difficult to interpret how important the church is to politicians and the people.

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The fundamental political value most cherished in the United States is to be anti-socialistic society, and therefore it is not surprising that atypically the whole energy sector is privately owned. Industry in general (even the military industrial complex) is privately owned, and it begs the discussion whether the concentration of wealth there has equated to a greater ability to influence government rather than the other way around. Does the American system therefore encourage the devolution to fascism? One could argue that the concept that “war is a racket” is unique to the U.S. and has supported a hegemonic policy. Capitalism, after all, is not a moral system it is an economic system, and the concentration of wealth to the elitists values supports a trend of government corruption, war mongering, and propagates the global instability we currently suffer under. The causes are complex and probably explained by a culture that embraces self-determinism and unregulated freedom. Socialism, at least forces a bit of morality into the mix at the expense of (arguably) personal freedom and productivity. But the devolution of democracy in Washington is also a cost, and the people are not benefiting. The social safety net, smaller than most developed countries, has growing holes from lack of government support while the elites enjoy tax cuts. The people still end up paying and getting poorer when the trickle down affect dries up. We should then perhaps compare this so-called ideal to the recovery of Russia. Somewhere in there is a solution.

This 2-part audio interview showed up on the audioboom.com Internet site on Tuesday sometime — and I though it best to wait until Saturday’s column to include this as well, plus the always excellent executive summary from Larry Galearis.  The link to Part 1 is in the headline — and here.  The link to Part 2 is here.


Till debt do us part: Russia and China continue dumping U.S. Treasuries

The latest U.S. Treasury Department data shows that foreign investors slashed their holdings of American debt in November by $105 billion, from a year earlier, to $6.2 trillion.

China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt, slashed its holdings for a sixth straight month in November. Beijing had $1.12 trillion in U.S. Treasuries, down from $1.138 trillion in October. The decline brought China’s Treasury holdings to the lowest level since May 2017, the data showed.

The two largest foreign creditors of the U.S. — China and Japan — have both been unloading U.S. Treasury securities. China’s holdings fell by $55 billion from a year earlier, Japan’s by $47 billion to $1.04 trillion. Tokyo has now reduced its stash by 16 percent since the peak of $1.24 trillion at the end of 2014.

Russia, which is no longer a leading creditor of the United States after an unprecedented dumping of the U.S. Treasury bonds in April and May, has slashed its stockpile by $1.815 billion in November to $12.814 billion.

This brief story appeared on the rt.com Internet site at 9:36 a.m. Moscow time on their Friday morning — and I thank George Whyte for pointing it out.   Another link to it is here.


Maduro Abandons Plan to Ship 20 Tonnes of Venezuelan Gold Abroad

Update: Marco Rubio’s scare tactics have apparently succeeded.

Due to fears of being targeted by the U.S. for helping Venezuela ship its dwindling gold reserves out of the country, the financial firm that was supposed to help the Maduro regime ship 20 tonnes of gold out of Venezuela has backed away from the deal, forcing Maduro to cancel his plans to unload the gold.

Rubio’s warning came a day after National Security Adviser John Bolton sent a similar message to the investing community. “My advice to bankers, brokers, traders, facilitators, and other businesses: don’t deal in gold, oil, or other Venezuelan commodities being stolen from the Venezuelan people by the Maduro mafia,’’ Bolton said in a tweet.

Juan Guaido, the opposition leader and U.S.-recognized President of Venezuela, has been struggling to defend Venezuela’s public assets to leave them available to be used to pay for humanitarian aide for the country’s long suffering population.

In interviews and press conferences, Guaido has stressed again and again his team’s push to safeguard Venezuela’s assets so that they can be used to fund the flow of humanitarian aid. He has scored key victories in recent days on this front. The Trump administration imposed fresh sanctions on the national oil company PDVSA, effectively blocking Maduro from exporting crude to the U.S., and granted Guaido control of Venezuelan assets at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Noor Capital, which has purchased Venezuelan gold in the past, released a statement saying it would refrain from any further purchases until after “the situation in Venezuela has stabilized.”

This Zero Hedge news item was posted on their Internet site at 3:16 p.m. EST on Friday afternoon — and another link to it is here.


China’s 2018 gold consumption +5.73 pct y/y at 1,151.43 tonnes — state media

China’s 2018 gold consumption rose by 5.73 percent year-on- year to 1,151.43 tonnes, the state-run Securities Times reported on Thursday, citing data from the China Gold Association.

China has now been the world’s top gold consumer for six years running, the newspaper said.

The country’s gold output fell 5.87 percent to 401.12 tonnes [during 2018] but China retained its position as the top global producer of the precious metal for a 12th straight year, it added.

China’s gold reserves rose for the first time in two years to 59.560 million fine troy ounces at end-December, according to central bank data released on Jan. 7.

The above four paragraphs are all there is to this short Reuters article, which was filed from Beijing on Wednesday evening EST — and it’s something that I found on the Sharps Pixley website…thanks Lawrie!  Another link to the hard copy is here.


The PHOTOS and the FUNNIES

This photo by Raúl Arboleda is captioned: “One of two Andean condors is seen before both are released back into the wild after recovering from possible poisoning, at the Jaime Duque park in the municipality of Tocancipa, Santander Department, Colombia. The Andean condor is distributed along the Andes from Venezuela to the south in Argentina and Chile. The emblem of Colombia, it is in critical danger of extinction in the country and almost threatened on a global scale, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Experts estimate a population of 150 birds in Colombia.”  Click to enlarge.

This second photo by Onur Çoban shows “A red deer in the Polonezköy Nature Park, Istanbul. Food has been left out for animals due to the tough winter conditions.”  Click to enlarge.


The WRAP

Today’s pop ‘blast from the past’ is all Canadian.  It was a monster hit back in 1973 — and a big hit in the U.S. if one lived close to the border and could tune in Canadian radio stations.  It did chart on Billboards Top 100 in the U.S…but not highly, because Canadian content was not promoted in the U.S. at that time.  They were the Canadian version of Chicago — and the link is here.

Today’s classical ‘blast from the past’ was one I’d picked out earlier in the week, so I didn’t have to do a lot of looking this week.

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi; (4 March 1678 – 28 July 1741) was an Italian Baroque musical composer, virtuoso violinist, teacher, and priest. Born in Venice, the capital of the Venetian Republic, he is regarded as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread across Europe. He composed many instrumental concertos, for the violin and a variety of other instruments, as well as sacred choral works and more than forty operas. His best-known work is a series of violin concertos known as the Four Seasons.

Many of his compositions were written for the all-female music ensemble of the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned children. Vivaldi had worked there as a Catholic priest for 1 1/2 years and was employed there from 1703 to 1715 and from 1723 to 1740. Vivaldi also had some success with expensive stagings of his operas in Venice, Mantua and Vienna. After meeting the Emperor Charles VI, Vivaldi moved to Vienna, hoping for royal support. However, the Emperor died soon after Vivaldi’s arrival, and Vivaldi himself died, in poverty, less than a year later.

His Four Seasons violin concertos have already appeared in this column on one or more occasions over the years.  Here’s another violin work he’s know for.  It’s his Concerto for Two Violins in A Minor, RV522.  It’s admirably performed here by a Baroque ensemble in Saunton, Virginia back in August 2014 — and it is wonderful.  The link is here.


Although gold and silver appeared to be spared to a certain extent during New York trading on Friday, the same can’t be said of either platinum or palladium…particularly the latter, as ‘da boyz’ are keeping a firm hand on its price, despite the obvious and ongoing physical shortage.

I must admit that I was somewhat surprised that the powers-that-be didn’t slam the precious metals on the job numbers news at 8:30 a.m. EST yesterday morning, because, on its surface, the numbers were impressive.  But, for whatever reason, they passed on it this time.

Here are the 6-month charts for the Big 6 commodities — and there’s really not that much to see.  Click to enlarge for all.

Along with the so-called wonderful jobs report, not only was there no smack-down in the precious metals, but the Dow Jones Industrial average would have actually closed down on the day on Friday — and back below the 25,000 mark, if it hadn’t received the usual nudge higher as the trading day came to a close.

If that ‘good news’ wasn’t enough to get the U.S. markets going, what will I wonder?  But I suspect that the PPT were there to make sure that a bad close to end the week, wouldn’t be a talking point over beer and taco chips as Super Bowl LIII approaches.

This was just another case of “There are no markets anymore, only interventions” that secretary/treasurer Chris Powell pointed out at the GATA conference in Washington back in 2008.  Of course back then it was scoffed at, but with the Fed now fully beholdin’ to Wall Street and the banking system, it’s now public policy — and the “Powell Put” appeared to be on display yesterday.

But under the surface of the world’s financial markets “accute systemic fragilities” and “escalating market instabilties” of Armageddon-size proportions lurk just out of sight.  And if you doubt me on that, a read/re-read of Doug Noland’s commentary in the Critical Reads section is in order.

I must admit that I’m watching the U.S. deep state with an ever-growing sense of alarm from north of the 49th parallel.  I knew these sociopathic/psychopathic personality types were out of control and have tried to keep their actions out of the public eye as much as possible.  But with the goings-on with respect to Venezuela during the last week or so, they’ve thrown international law out the window completely — and have now gone full rogue, both at home and abroad…including a lot of the Western countries that have supported them.

And as much as possible, I’ve avoided any reference to this Mueller/Russiagate thingy — and expect for the odd cartoon here and there, I’ve stayed miles away from it.  However, a commentary from Paul Craig Roberts earlier this week really opened my eyes — and dovetails with what’s going on with the U.S. vs. Venezuela, as he pretty much spells it out chapter and verse.  I hummed and hawed about it for the last three days — and decided not to post it in the Critical Reads section, but I’ve decided to stick a link to it in this paragraph.  It’s entitled “A Lawless Government” — and the first of many readers who sent this to me was Richard Connolly.

As for the precious metals…gold and silver in particular…if we could see the current Commitment of Traders Report for positions held at the close of COMEX trading on Tuesday, January 29…it would be ugly…very ugly.  And as I pointed out in both my Thursday and Friday columns, we are hugely overbought in both — and an engineered price decline would not surprise me in the slightest.

But the precious metal market feels somewhat different now — and I get the sense…as I’ve stated before…that any correction, although somewhat scary and demoralizing, won’t be overly long or too deep.  The big unknown here is how far JPMorgan has gone on the short side during this rally.  Unfortunately, we won’t know that for at least another three weeks, which is a lifetime these days.

Of course the other item not to be forgotten is this sentencing of the ex-JPMorgan commodities trader for rigging the precious metal markets for years.  If I was a current employee of JPMorgan in that line of work, I would not relish the idea of a perp walk in an orange jump suit, which this convicted trader is going to get at some point.  I would suspect that many of the current precious metal traders at JPMorgan are on the DoJ’s hit list — and I wait impatiently to see how this all shakes out.

And with Venezuela not being able to get its gold out of London, or even out of its own vaults in Caracas and onto the open market, I suspect that a lot of countries that have borderline relationships with the U.S. will be thinking about repatriating their gold from the Bank of England — and back within their own borders.

The world is becoming more unstable politically, economically and monetarily with each passing week — and at some point a fight will break out for the last remaining physical precious metal supplies still available.  It won’t be long after that…a few days or weeks — and there will be no physical metal left to be had at any price.

And with one eye firmly fixed on the extraordinary February delivery month unfolding in gold, I’m done for the day — and the week — and I’ll see you here on Tuesday.

Go Patriots!

Ed