All Eyes [and Ears] on Jackson Hole

22 August 2019 — Thursday


The gold price came under selling pressure the moment that trading began at 6:00 p.m. EDT in New York on Tuesday evening — and it was booted downstairs even more starting about fifteen minutes before the London open.  The low tick of the day was set at 9:00 a.m. BST — and it crept unevenly higher until 2:15 p.m. in after-hours trading.  And just as the price was about to turn positive on the day, it was sold sharply lower at that juncture.  An hour after that it rallied a few dollars going into the 5:00 p.m. close.

Gold traded in a ten dollar price range throughout all of Wednesday trading, so I won’t bother with the low and high ticks in either delivery month.

Gold was closed at $1,502.20 spot, down $4.60 from Tuesday.  All things considered, net volume wasn’t overly heavy at a bit over 230,500 contracts — and there was just under 15,500 contracts worth of roll-over/switch volume in this precious metal.

The price path that silver was taken on was virtually identical to gold’s once again…complete with the same inflection points…9 a.m. in London — and 2:15 p.m. in New York.  Its price was actually in positive territory for a bit during early afternoon COMEX trading, but was closed below it once it was sold lower in the thinly-traded after-hours market.

The low and high ticks in this precious metal were reported by the CME Group as $16.975 and $17.18 in the September contract.

Silver was closed in New York on Wednesday afternoon at $17.085 spot, down 5 cents on the day.  Net volume was pretty quiet at a bit under 42,000 contracts — and there was a chunky 29,000 contracts worth of roll-over/switch volume out of September and into future months…mostly December.

Like silver and gold, platinum’s low tick also came at 9 a.m. in London/10 a.m. in Zurich — and from that point it rallied nicely into the 10 a.m. afternoon gold fix.  There was a bit of a down/up move until noon EDT — and then it traded flat until the same 2:15 p.m. time as the other two precious metals.  It was then sold lower until 3 p.m. EDT — and traded flat into the 5:00 p.m. EDT close from there.   Platinum finished the day at $851 spot, up 4 dollars.

The palladium price wandered around five bucks or so either side of unchanged in Far East trading — and most of Zurich trading as well on their respective Wednesdays.  Then, starting a few minutes after 9 a.m. in New York, it was sold down hard until around 11:30 a.m. EDT.  Every tiny rally attempt after that was capped immediately — and it chopped quietly sideways until trading ended at 5:00 p.m. EDT.  Palladium was closed at $1,453 spot, down 20 dollars from Tuesday.

The dollar index closed very late on Tuesday afternoon in New York at 98.19 — and opened down a couple of basis points once trading commenced around 7:45 p.m. EDT on Tuesday evening, which was 7:45 a.m. China Standard Time on their Wednesday morning.   Then after an up/down move that ended around 10:20 a.m. CST, it began to edge quietly higher.  That rally topped out a very few minutes after the London open — and it was all very unevenly down hill from there until the 98.14 low tick [from the DXY chart] was set at 2:15 p.m. EDT…but Bloomberg recorded the low at that point as 97.95.  If that low print is accurate, then I get the impression that the usual ‘gentle hands’ came to the rescue at that juncture.  It rallied sharply from there until the 98.33 high tick was set at 3:25 p.m. — and it sagged a bit into the close from there.  The dollar index finished the Wednesday session at 98.30…up 11 basis points from Tuesday’s close.

It’s obvious from this chart that the dollar index was rescued from oblivion the same moment that the precious metals were smacked lower at 2:15 p.m. in New York.

Here’s the DXY chart, courtesy of Bloomberg as always.  Click to enlarge.

And here’s the 6-month U.S. dollar index chart, courtesy of the folks over at the Internet site.  The delta between its close…98.19…and the close on the DXY chart above, was 11 basis points on Wednesday.  Click to enlarge as well.

The gold shares opened down about a percent once trading began in New York at 9:30 a.m., but rallied back a bit above unchanged in very short order.  From that point they wandered around either side of unchanged for the remainder of the day, with their respective highs coming at the 1:30 p.m. EDT COMEX close.  Despite that, the HUI finished down 0.22 percent on the day.

The silver equities did somewhat better, even though they opened down a bit as well.  Their respective highs came around 2:15 p.m. when the dollar index go rescued from the depths — and half their earlier gains had vanished by the 4:00 p.m. close of trading in New York.  Nick Laird’s Intraday Silver Sentiment/Silver 7 Index closed up 0.79 percent.  Click to enlarge if necessary.

And here’s Nick’s 1-year Silver Sentiment/Silver 7 Index, updated with Wednesday’s doji.  Click to enlarge as well.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that 45 gold and 1 silver contract were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Friday.

In gold, there were five short/issuers in total, with the two largest being International F.C. Stone and Advantage, with 16 and 15 contracts out of their respective client accounts.  There were four long/stoppers — and the three biggest were Macquarie Futures with 24 contracts for its own trading account.  JPMorgan and Advantage picked up 9 contracts each — and all for their respective client accounts.

The lone silver contract was issued by Advantage — and stopped by the CME Group.  They immediately reissued that contract as 5 one-thousand ounce COMEX mini silver contracts.  Advantage picked up 4 of those — and ADM the remaining one.

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

The CME Preliminary Report for the Wednesday trading session showed that gold open interest in August rose by 35 contracts, leaving 929 still around, minus the 45 contracts mentioned a few paragraphs ago.  Tuesday’s Daily Delivery Report showed that 114 gold contracts were actually posted for delivery today, so that means that 35+114=149 more gold contracts were just added to the August delivery month.  Silver o.i. in August declined by 4 contracts, leaving just 1 left.  Tuesday’s Daily Delivery Report showed that 3 silver contracts were actually posted for delivery today, so that means that 4-3=1 silver contract vanished from August.

There was a very decent deposit into GLD on Wednesday, as an authorized participant added 216,882 troy ounces of gold.  There were no reported changes in SLV.

There was a tiny sales report from the U.S. Mint on Wednesday.  They sold 90,000 silver eagles — and that was all.

There was no in/out movement in gold over at the COMEX-approved depositories on the U.S. east coast on Tuesday.

There was a bit of movement in silver, as one truckload…599,335 troy ounces…was dropped off at HSBC USA — and that’s all the ‘in’ activity there was.  There was also 32,459 troy ounces in total shipped out.  That amount involved three different depositories — and I won’t bother breaking it down.  But if you wish to look for yourself, the link to yesterday’s Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.

Over at the COMEX-approved gold kilobar depositories in Hong Kong on their Tuesday, they reported receiving 350 of them — and 22 were shipped out.  All of the ‘in’ activity was at Loomis International — and all the ‘out’ activity was at Brink’s, Inc.  The link to this, in troy ounces, is here.

Here are three charts that Nick passed around on Tuesday that I didn’t have space for in my Wednesday column, so here they are now.  The first chart shows Swiss gold imports and exports, updated with July’s data.  For that month they reported receiving 154.74 tonnes — and shipped out 118.12 tonnesClick to enlarge.

These next two charts show the countries and tonnages that Switzerland received gold from — and the second shows the countries and tonnages that each importing country received from Switzerland during JulyClick to enlarge for both.

Nick also had a separate list of countries that Switzerland received gold from during July, but didn’t have room for on the above chart — and they are:


Uzbekistan      19.880
Japan               4.659
Cambodia         3.717
Singapore         3.506
Lebanon           3.343
Mali                  2.667
Dominican Rep  2.281
Suriname          2.056
Belgium            1.898
Australia           1.407
Mongolia           1.092

There was a Bloomberg story about Swiss exports to to the U.K. in July that was posted in my Wednesday column headlined “Swiss gold exports to U.K. hit 6-year high on surge into ETFs” — and I thought I’d link it again here, in case you missed it…or were now interested.

I have an average number of stories/articles for you today.


Our Fake-Money Bubble Will Burst — Bill Bonner

The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind small.” – Sextus Empiricus

The year moves ahead. Here in France, leaves are already beginning to dry, curl, and fall to the ground. A gentle breeze shuffles them along, driving them into corners and under bushes.

Last night was cold. We were out at a party in the Limousin region. Slightly higher and hillier than Poitou, we stood outside and felt the cool air falling on our heads. We shivered and reached for sweaters… and then retreated to our cars for the drive home.

Our hypothesis is that the U.S. peaked around the turn of the century.

Since then, as measured in the most reliable money mankind ever discovered, gold, the flower of its industrial wealth, the Dow 30, has been cut in half.

But the phenomenon goes far beyond the stock market or the business cycle.

The American economy has been grotesquely distorted by fake-money financialization.

So has American society and government been perverted and corrupted by its fake-money-financed elite.

And now, the fading light of late summer falls on an aging, degenerate empire… like a fallen apple, it sits on the ground dreaming of springtime.

This worthwhile commentary from Bill showed up on the Internet site early on Wednesday morning EDT — and another link to it is hereGregory Mannarino‘s 14-minute rant after the closing bell on Wednesday is linked here.

Kyle Bass Summarizes the State of the World: “This is Insane!

Despite interest rates having bounced (albeit very modestly) in the last few days, prompting shrieks of “the lows for yields are in” once again, and hyped-up belief that ‘There Is No Alternative’ to dumping bonds and buying stocks at record highs, Hayman Capital fund manager Kyle Bass has a different view suggesting that a global re-awakening of easier-and-easier monetary policy will drive U.S. rates to zero (and potentially beyond).

This is insane. The Japanese are going to keep going. The Chinese print money like it’s a national pastime today. Europe is going to restart QE.”

During an interview with CNBC, Bass exclaimed:

We’re the only country that has an integer in front of our bond yields,”

We have 90% of the world’s investment-grade debt. We actually have rule of law and we have a decent economy. All the money is going to come here.”

Which, Bass notes, will spark even more inequality (as ‘assetholders’ get richer – in ever more diluted dollar terms while the rest suffer from inflationary living costs)

“The unintended consequences of central bank printing are that it makes the rich even richer, it makes the middle class stay where they are — and it makes the poor stay poor.”

This Zero Hedge item has a 5:03 minute CNBC video clip featuring Kyle Bass embedded, which I think is worth watching.  It was posted on the ZH website at 1:50 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon EDT — and I thank Brad Robertson for pointing it out.  Another link to it is here.

France Says It Now Sees No-Deal Brexit as the Likeliest Scenario

The French government expects the U.K. to leave the European Union without a withdrawal agreement, an official in President Emmanuel Macron’s office said, meaning the immediate imposition of border controls after Brexit at the end of October.

A so-called no-deal Brexit is now the central scenario for France, the official said. The comments come after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent a letter to E.U. officials demanding the removal of the controversial Irish border backstop from the deal, something the bloc has repeatedly refused to do.

Since Johnson took office last month, E.U. officials have considered a no-deal Brexit the most likely outcome, though they still hope an agreement can be reached before Britain’s scheduled exit date of Oct. 31.

But that would require the new prime minister who has struck a hard-line position to back down over the backstop — the mechanism designed to keep the Irish border free of checks agreed with Brussels by his predecessor, Theresa May.

The bloc has said the U.K. doesn’t have a realistic plan for an alternative to the backstop. The measure is despised by ardent Brexiteers in Johnson’s Conservative Party because it keeps the U.K. tied to many of the E.U.’s customs and trading rules, and Parliament has rejected the Brexit deal three times.

Ireland’s E.U. commissioner, Phil Hogan, spoke scathingly on Wednesday about Johnson’s approach to Brexit.  “If the U.K. fails to prevent a crash-out Brexit, they should be under no illusion regarding the foul atmosphere they will create with their E.U. partners and the serious consequences this will have for negotiating any future trade agreement,” Hogan said in a speech in Ireland, according to the Irish Independent newspaper.

This Bloomberg story, which I extracted from a Zero Hedge posting, put in an appearance on the Bloomberg website at 7:14 a.m. PDT on Tuesday — and was updated about thirty minutes later.  I thank Brad Robertson for this one as well — and another link to it is here.

Germany Sells World’s First 30-Year Negative Yielding Bond…and it’s a Failure

Last night, when we previewed Germany’s sale this morning of what would be the world’s first ultra-long (30-Year) auction with a negative yield, we said that “traders will closely follow the oversubscription rate on the sale, which neared a record low in the July after falling for the last three auctions.” And sure enough that turned out to be a rather thorny issue as the bond sale was technically a failure.

Here’s what happened: on Wednesday morning, with its entire yield curve below zero and the yield on the 30Y auction assured to be negative, a reflection of dwindling expectations for inflation and growth over the coming years and ahead of the ECB’s relaunch of QE next month – Germany was hoping to sell some €2 billion in bonds maturing 2050. However, with bond yields rising sharply into the auction, with the yield on the German 30Y rising from -0.18% to as high as -0.10%, demand suddenly slumped.

And so, when the dust settled, it turned out that Germany had managed to sell just €824 million of the total €2 billion target at a record low yield of -0.11%, with the Bundesbank forced to retain almost two-thirds of the entire issue as demand plunged. In other words, this was a failed auction.

Thanks to the central bank’s intervention, the bid-to-cover ratio was just barely above one, or 1.05 times, versus 1.07 times for the previous sale of similar maturity bonds on July 17, while the real subscription rate – which accounts for retentions by the Bundesbank – fell to 0.43 times against 0.86 times at the previous auction. Anything below 1 indicates that there is no real market demand for the entire issue.

It is technically a failed auction,” said Jens Peter Sorensen, chief analyst at Danske Bank AS. “I am not all worried about this — as investors can always just buy in the future and do not need to participate in auctions.”

This news item put in an appearance on the Zero Hedge website at 7:23 a.m. EDT yesterday morning — and I thank Swedish reader Patrick Ekdahl and Brad Robertson for contributing to this story.  Another link to is is here.  There was a story about this headlined “Trump praises Germany’s negative yields, but doesn’t mention that its bond sale failed” — and I thank Patrik Ekdahl for that one.

Mark Mobius: “You Should Be Buying Gold on Any Level

Mark Mobius, co-founder and partner at Mobius Capital Partners, discusses demand for commodities and his outlook for gold. He speaks on “Bloomberg Markets: Asia.”

This 4:02 minute video interview put in an appearance on the Internet site at 11:51 a.m. PDT on Monday night — and it’s worth your while.  I found this interview on the Sharps Pixley website.

Swiss gold exports re-distributed as Chinese imports curtailed — Lawrie Williams

We have been hearing from several sources that China, for the past several years the world’s largest importer of gold, is now curbing gold import levels by reducing quotas available to companies and institutions which import gold.  The last couple of months of gold export figures from Switzerland, perhaps the biggest exporter of gold to China, would seem to bear these reports out.

In June, China only imported around 6 tonnes of gold from Switzerland – down 53% on its imports in May, which were already trending downwards at only 13 tonnes.  And now the latest figures from the Swiss Customs Administration for July put direct exports to mainland China that month at 9.8 tonnes.  By contrast mainland China imported on average some 38 tonnes a month of gold from Switzerland in 2018.

Figures published recently by China’s Business Times put total Chinese gold imports from all sources at around 1,500 tonnes in 2018 which, together with China’s own gold production at a little over 400 tonnes and an allowance for scrap, puts China’s 2018 gold consumption at around +/-2,000 tonnes.  We have always equated Chinese annual gold accumulations to the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) gold withdrawal figures, which totalled 2,054.5 tonnes in 2018 and although this is disputed as a measure of Chinese consumption by the major gold consultancies, we stand by our interpretation as being far closer to the announced figures for Chinese imports plus own gold production plus a scrap allowance than consumption estimates from any other source.

Interestingly, we have also noticed a downturn in SGE gold withdrawal figures so far this year, which would also seem to confirm a degree of import restrictions coming into play.  We had supposed we would see a pick-up in these in the second half of the year, but in the light of the reported import restrictions we suspect we will see further falls in this year’s month-by month figures.

This is the first of two worthwhile gold-related stories from Lawrie and, as always, this one appeared on the Sharps Pixley website on Wednesday.  Another link to it is here.

Is Russian Central Bank reducing its gold purchases? — Lawrie Williams

Despite U.S. imposed trade sanctions on Russia, largely followed somewhat reluctantly by the U.S.’s European Union allies, the Russian economy, in terms of growth in Foreign Exchange reserves, is growing – even as the Putin-controlled mega-power seems to be reducing its dollar-related assets to the bare minimum.  Latest reports suggest that Russia is moving into having the world’s fourth largest Forex reserves by overtaking Saudi Arabia which had previously been holding that position.  The top three are China, Japan and Switzerland.  While Russia is currently in fifth place with Forex reserves of around $520 billion, Saudi Arabia is only slightly ahead and will likely be surpassed this year, according to analysis by Fitch ratings.  Russian Forex reserves are seen as rising to over $600 billion by 2021 as it builds them up in response to the possible imposition of additional sanctions by the Trump-led Administration in the U.S.

One of the keys to Russian Forex growth has been its programme of gold purchases over the past few years.  Russia has been seen as the world’s largest accumulator of gold reserves over the past several years adding 200 tonnes of gold or more to its reserves annually for the past several years.  Its Central Bank has just announced the addition of a further 300,000 ounces (9.33 tonnes)  in July bringing its total to 2,218 tonnes – the world’s fifth largest national gold holding – only marginally behind those of the current third and fourth largest holders, Italy and France, which respectively hold 2,451.8 and 2,436.1 tonnes according to official figures reported to the IMF.  At the most recent accumulation rate Russian holdings could surpass both of these in the next year or two.

Russia is also the world’s third largest gold producer (after China and Australia) and has designs on becoming the World’s No.1 as Chinese production continues to slip and the gap with Australia is exceedingly small.  Thus reserves can continue to be built from domestic production alone, although moves appear to be afoot for Russian gold miners to boost exports too.  The rate of accumulation by the bank of Russia may be diminishing, but only at the margin, as the nation continues to see gold as a key element in maintaining its strong global economic position.

This very worthwhile commentary from Lawrie showed up on the Sharps Pixley website on Wednesday sometime as well — and another link to it is here.

Financial Times imagines “financial literacy” is defeating gold in India

Predictably enough the Financial Times report that is appended here underplays the Indian government’s unending war against gold, while acknowledging that the government’s paperization campaign has failed so far.

But the report is delightful for its presumption that gold is for the great unwashed while modern financial assets are for more sophisticated people, people gaining “financial literacy.” You know — people who don’t mind that valuations can be changed abruptly by government policy rather than market fundamentals, people who aren’t worried about central bank destruction of interest rates, people who are sure that they couldn’t possibly be scammed by financial houses, and people who can be persuaded that assets can be hypothecated to infinity without anyone ever realizing that they are oversubscribed.

That is, people who believe everything they read the Financial Times.

The actual headline to this article reads “Rise in Indian financial literacy tarnishes appeal of gold“…but the one above that Chris Powell offered is far closer to the heart of the matter.  This very interesting, worthwhile and condescending commentary from the FT of London is posted in the clear in its entirety on the Internet site.  It showed up there at 11:11 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning — and another link to it is here.

China’s Gold Reserves Jump For 7th Month as Consumption, Production Slump

A new report from the China Gold Association, first examined by China Daily, said gold consumption in China reached 523.54 metric tons in H1/19, down 3.27% YoY, due mostly to off-lining of production facilities, the demise of zombie company producers, and readjusting the industrial structure to a period of lower demand.

Gold bar consumption declined 17.29% YoY to 110.51 tons in 1H19, while gold coins plunged 29.27% YoY to 2.9 tons. Gold for industrial purposes fell 0.6% YoY in 1H to 51.36 tons, the report said, outlining how some of gold’s lackluster demand in 2019 is the result of soaring spot prices.

China’s total gold output decreased as the industry is upgrading the production techniques and cleaning up some mining rights issues,” said Zhu Yi, senior analyst of metals and mining at Bloomberg Intelligence.

Demand for domestic gold jewelry bucked the trend, came in at 358.77 tons in 1H19, up 1.97% YoY.

China’s increasing demand for gold jewelry is due to consumers’ rising needs and falling demand for gold bars and coins due to the decreasing investment needs.”

The association said, “domestic companies in the gold sector have been pushing forward high-quality development, to close down outdated production facilities, optimize the industrial structure, integrate high-quality gold resources, against a background of global macroeconomic weakness and domestic economic restructuring.”

China National Gold Group, a state-owned gold corporation, has “rooted out” 31 zombie company producers that rely on government bailouts to survive.

This gold-related Zero Hedge news item is based on something from the Bloomberg website.  It was posted on the ZH website at 6:05 p.m. on Wednesday evening EDT — and another link to it is here.


Here are the next three photos from Silver Lake Provincial Park at the very north end of the Skagit Valley — and a handful of kilometers/miles up in the coast mountains just southwest of Hope.  I would have been happier had it been sunny, but it is what it is.  Click to enlarge.


It was interesting to watch the price action in the overseas markets vs. the London/Zurich and New York markets on Wednesday.  The prices of gold, silver and platinum were all sold lower in Far East trading, but began to rally an hour after both London and Zurich opened.  The next time there was any major and obvious interference in their respective prices was when the dollar index was rescued by the usual ‘gentle hands’ at 2:15 p.m. in New York on Wednesday afternoon.   Of those three, only platinum was allowed a positive close.

On the other hand, palladium was up a small handful of dollar throughout most of Zurich trading, but that ended shortly after the noon silver fix in London, which was shortly after 1 p.m. CEST.  Palladium was closed down on the day as well.

In a strange sort of way, Wednesday’s price activity looked like the usual ‘care and maintenance’ type of day.  But I’m still bracing myself for another major ‘wash, rinse, spin — and repeat’ cycle..hoping it will never come — and that things really are different this time.

Here are the 6-month charts for the Big 6 commodities — and it should be noted that the post COMEX close smack-down closes in gold, silver and palladium aren’t reflected in their respective Wednesday dojis for reasons I’ve already stated many times in the past.  Other than that, there’s not a lot to see.  Click to enlarge.

And as I type this paragraph, the London open is less than a minute away — and I note that the gold price crawled unevenly sideways in early morning trading in the Far East — and the current high tick, such as it is, was set at 10 a.m. China Standard Time on their Thursday morning. It was sold quietly lower from there until a few minutes after 1 p.m. CST — and then rallied almost back to unchanged by the 2:15 p.m. afternoon gold fix in Shanghai. At the moment, the gold price is down $1.20 the ounce. It was generally down hill for silver starting just before 9 a.m. CST — and it has been edging unevenly sideways since its 1 p.m CST low tick, but is down 7 cents as London opens. Platinum was forced to follow the same price path as silver — and it’s of its current low tick, but down 2 bucks at the moment. Palladium, like the gold price, came under some price pressure starting at 10 a.m. CST — and it’s down 9 dollars as Zurich opens.

Net HFT gold volume is really nothing special at around 35,500 contracts — and there’s only 1,680 contracts worth of roll-over/switch volume on top of that. Net HFT silver volume is pretty light at about 6,200 contracts — and there’s 2,472 contracts worth of roll-over/switch volume out of September and into future months…mostly December.

The dollar index opened down 4 basis points once trading commenced at around 7:45 p.m. in New York on Wednesday evening, which was 8:45 a.m. China Standard Time on their Thursday morning. It has been creeping very quietly and very unsteadily higher since — and as of 7:45 a.m. BST in London/8:45 a.m. CEST in Zurich, the index is up 1 whole basis point.

Now the world waits in breathless anticipation for whatever words of wisdom emanate from Jackson Hole this week…particularly those of Fed chairman Powell.  I doubt very much that Trump will get the 1% cut in the Fed Funds Rate that he has been publicly going on about for the last few weeks, but it will be interesting to see just how much he/they cave to his demands.

And as I post today’s column on the website at 4:04 a.m. EDT, I see that like on Tuesday, price pressure returned in gold and silver a few minutes before the London and Zurich opens. Gold is now down $3.90 the ounce — and silver is down 9 cents. Platinum continues to creep higher — and is now down only a dollar — and palladium has turned a bit higher since the Zurich open — and is down only 4 bucks.

Gross gold volume is just under 54,000 contracts — and minus what little roll-over/switch volume there is, net HFT gold volume is 50,000 contracts. Net HFT silver volume is around 7,900 contracts — and there’s 4,400 contracts worth of roll-over/switch volume in this precious metal.

The dollar index turned sharply lower around 8:10 a.m. BST — and is down 15 basis points as of 8:45 a.m. in London/9:45 a.m. in Zurich. But that’s certainly not being allowed to be reflected in precious metal prices.

The Jackson Hole soirée begins today — and that will be the focus of the financial talking heads for the next few days until ‘The Word’ comes down on either Friday or Saturday.

That’s all I have for today — and I’ll see you here tomorrow.