20 April 2017 — Thursday


The gold price was under a bit of selling pressure right from the 6:00 p.m. EDT open in New York on Tuesday evening – and right up until 1 p.m. BST in London on their Wednesday afternoon, which was twenty minutes before the COMEX open.  Gold rallied a bit from there, with the New York high tick coming a minute or so after 9 a.m. EDT.  From there — and until the London p.m. gold fix was done — the price pattern was carbon copy of what ‘da boyz’ did to it on Tuesday.  It rallied from that point until shortly after 12 o’clock noon EDT — and then traded flat until 3:00 p.m. in the thinly-traded after-hours market — and was sold down a handful of dollars before chopping quietly sideways into the 5 p.m. close.

The high and low ticks were reported as $1,292.70 and $1,275.40 in the June contract.

Gold finished the Wednesday session in New York at $1,280.30 spot, down $8.90 from Tuesday’s close.  Net volume was huge once again at a hair over 240,000 contracts.

Here’s the 5-minute tick chart courtesy of Brad Robertson — and the stand-out feature here is the monstrous 25,000 contract volume spike on the engineered price spike down at the London p.m. gold fix.  All the volume that mattered yesterday occurred between 06:00 and 11:30 a.m. Denver time on this chart, which was the time period that the COMEX was open…plus the twenty minutes before COMEX trading began.

The vertical gray line is 10:00 p.m. Denver time, midnight in New York — and noon China Standard Time [CST] the following day in Shanghai—and don’t forget to add two hours for EDT.  The ‘click to enlarge‘ feature is a must.

The silver price action yesterday was sort of a mini version of what happened in gold, except there was almost no activity at the London afternoon gold fix, at least according to the Kitco chart below — and the low tick of the day, which almost, but not quite, matched Tuesday’s low tick, came one minute after 12 o’clock noon in New York.  The subsequent rally was sold off quietly into the 5 p.m. close.

The high and low ticks were recorded by the CME Group as  $18.325 and $18.085 in the May contract.

Silver was closed in New York on Wednesday at $18.125 spot, down 12.5 cents on the day.  Net volume was a bit heavier than normal, but nothing like it was on Tuesday when silver’s 200-day moving average was taken out for the first time.  Net volume was just under 50,000 contracts.

Here’s the 5-minute tick chart for silver, courtesy of Brad as well.  The interesting thing about this chart is that the big volume spike of the day came at the London p.m. gold fix [08:00 MDT] — and not at the 10 a.m. Denver/12 noon New York low tick.  As a matter of fact, the price blast lower at the London fix was so brief that there’s not even a record of it on the New York Spot Silver [Bid] chart.  It only showed up on the price/volume chart below.

The vertical gray line is 10:00 p.m. Denver time, midnight in New York — and noon China Standard Time [CST] the following day in Shanghai—and don’t forget to add two hours for EDT.  The ‘click to enlarge‘ feature is a must as well.

The platinum price traded a few dollars above unchanged through most of the Wednesday trading session — and its New York high tick [such as it was] came minutes after 9 a.m. EDT, just like for gold.  ‘Da Boyz’ pulled their bids and spun their aglos at the fix — and platinum was down about fifteen bucks in seconds.  It recovered a bit from there, but was sold down into the COMEX close — and then traded flat until 5:00 p.m.  Platinum finished the Wednesday session at $965 spot, down 8 bucks on the day.

Palladium barely had a pulse, but it was alive.  It traded flat until minutes before the Zurich open — and its ‘high’ of the day came at the London p.m. gold fix.  Then it traded virtually ruler flat right up until the markets closed at 5:00 p.m. EDT.  The palladium price ended up 5 dollars on the day at $776 spot.

The dollar index closed in New York very late on Tuesday afternoon at 99.47 — and after trading flat until around 6:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday evening, began to crawl higher from there.  This state of affairs lasted until noon in London — and then it began to chop higher with a bit more intensity, with the 99.89 high tick coming around 11:35 a.m. in New York.  It backed off a bit at that juncture, before chopping more or less sideways for the rest of the day.  The dollar index closed in New York on Wednesday afternoon at 99.81 — up 34 basis points.

And here’s the 6-month U.S. dollar index charts — and you can read into it whatever you want.

The gold shares gapped down a percent and change at the open in New York yesterday morning — and kept on heading lower from there.  The low tick came around 2:10 p.m. EDT — and they then inched higher into the close.  The HUI finished lower by 3.70 percent.

Ditto for the silver equities, except they got hit a bit harder.  Nick Laird’s Intraday Silver Sentiment/Silver 7 Index closed down 4.35 percent.  Click to enlarge if necessary.

I get the impression from the volume figures, that there was a decent amount of fund selling on Wednesday that wasn’t around on Tuesday.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that 1 gold and 62 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Friday.  The lone gold contract was picked up JPMorgan for its client account.  In silver, all 62 contracts were issued by ADM out of its client account — and they also stopped 46 of them as well.  Morgan Stanley got the other 16 for its client account.  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 April declined by 88 contracts, leaving 842 still open, minus the 1 contract mentioned above.  Tuesday’s Daily Delivery Report showed that only 8 gold contracts were actually posted for delivery today, so that means that 88-8=80 gold contracts disappeared from April without either making or taking delivery.   Silver o.i. in April fell by 24 contracts, leaving 62 still around, minus the 62 mentioned in the previous paragraph.  But Tuesday’s Daily Delivery Report showed that, in fact, 86 gold contracts were actually posted for delivery today, which is not possible, as the 62-86= -24 contract number doesn’t compute.  I’ll await today’s Daily Delivery Report/Preliminary Report to see how this gets sorted out, as something is amiss here.  A situation like this arose in the March Delivery month — and it was resolved, but with no explanation or adjustments.

Over at GLD there was a very large deposit by one or more authorized participants, as 380,720 troy ounces were added.  But it was another story entirely over at SLV, as it went the other direction for the second day in a row, as an a.p. withdrew another 946,686 troy ounces — and it’s a near certainty that JP Morgan now owns that as well.

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

It was another fairly uneventful day in gold over at the COMEX-approved gold depositories on the U.S. east coast on Tuesday.  One good delivery bar…99.935 troy ounces…was deposited at Brink’s, Inc.  — and the only ‘out’ activity was 16,075.000 troy ounces/500 kilobars [U.K./U.S. kilobar weight] that was withdrawn from Canada’s Scotiabank.  I won’t bother linking this amount.

There was one withdrawal and one deposit in silver, as 611,453 troy ounces was taken out of Scotiabank and transferred into JPMorgan’s vault.  There was also 1,026,433 troy ounces transferred from the Eligible category — and into Registered…597,304 troy ounces at Brink’s, Inc…and 429,129 troy ounces at CNT.  The link to all that action is here.

After two days of intense in/out activity at Brink’s, Inc. at the COMEX-approved gold kilobar depositories in Hong Kong on Friday and Monday, there was no reported activity there on Tuesday.  They were probably charging up the batteries on their fork lifts.

There certainly wasn’t much happening in the news department yesterday — and I have very little for you today.


Larry Fink Says “Warning Signs Are Getting Darker” For U.S. Economy

Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock, sat down with Bloomberg earlier today to provide some rather dark warnings about the U.S. economy saying there are signs of slowing as businesses weigh whether the Trump administration will be able to pass tax reform and an infrastructure program quickly.

Among other things, Fink said that “the warning signs are getting darker” and pointed to slowing auto sales and corporate M&A activity as evidence that the underlying economy may not be as healthy as S&P returns would indicate.

The U.S. economy is not growing as fast as people would have thought in the 4th quarter.

So to assert that we’re going to continue to grow at this size or higher…well, I never make forward predictions like that.”

Meanwhile, in a comical detour, Fink said the market is waiting for Q1 earnings to determine whether the recent equity rally in the U.S. was justified.  Allow us to end the suspense…it’s not.

This Zero Hedge news item, with a 3:48 minute Bloomberg video interview, appeared on their website at 1:59 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon EDT — and I thank Brad Robertson for sharing it with us.  Another link to it is here.

Trump “absolutely not” trying to talk down dollar — U.S. Treasury’s Mnuchin

U.S. President Donald Trump is “absolutely not” trying to talk down the strength of the dollar, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was quoted as saying in the Financial Times on Wednesday.

Trump said last week in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the dollar was “getting too strong“, and backed away from labelling China a currency manipulator.

Mnuchin had played down that comment on the dollar in an interview first published late on Monday in the FT. In a more detailed version published on Wednesday, he directly rejected the idea that Trump was trying to talk down the dollar, saying “Absolutely not, absolutely not.

Mnuchin also said the Trump administration did not deem foreign countries to be manipulating their currency if they did so in a way that benefited Washington.

To manipulate a currency you have to be doing it to disadvantage the United States,” he said.

And the Chinese aren’t…and haven’t???  Wow!  What a bold-faced lie that is.  This Reuters story, was posted on their Internet site at 5:31 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning — and I found it in a GATA dispatch.  Another link to it is here.

Doug Casey Says the E.U.’s Collapse Is Now “Imminent

Nick Giambruno: Doug, you predicted the fall of the European Union a few years ago. What has changed since then?

Doug Casey: Well, what’s changed is that the entire situation has gotten much worse. The inevitable has now become the imminent.

The European Union evolved, devolved actually, from basically a free trade pact among a few countries to a giant, dysfunctional, overreaching bureaucracy. Free trade is an excellent idea. However, you don’t need to legislate free trade; that’s almost a contradiction in terms. A free trade pact between different governments is unnecessary for free trade. An individual country interested in prosperity and freedom only needs to eliminate all import and export duties, and all import and export quotas. When a country has duties or quotas, it’s essentially putting itself under embargo, shooting its economy in the foot. Businesses should trade with whomever they want for their own advantage.

But that wasn’t the way the Europeans did it. The Eurocrats, instead, created a treaty the size of a New York telephone book, regulating everything. This is the problem with the European Union. They say it is about free trade, but really it’s about somebody’s arbitrary idea of “fair trade,” which amounts to regulating everything. In addition to its disastrous economic consequences, it creates misunderstandings and confusion in the mind of the average person. Brussels has become another layer of bureaucracy on top of all the national layers and local layers for the average European to deal with.

The European Union in Brussels is composed of a class of bureaucrats that are extremely well paid, have tremendous benefits, and have their own self-referencing little culture. They’re exactly the same kind of people that live within the Washington, D.C. beltway.

This discussion between Doug and International Man‘s senior editor Nick Giambruno showed up on their website on Wednesday sometime — and it’s certainly worth reading.  I thank Brad Robertson for bringing it to our attention — and another link to it is here.

Another Flip? Trump Tells Congress Iran Compliant With “Disastrous” Nuclear Deal

On the heels of an apparent avalanche of flip-flops on campaign comments, President Trump has notified Congress that Iran is complying with the “disastrous… worst deal ever negotiated” 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by former President Obama.

During his campaign, Trump raised the prospect the United States will pull out of the nuclear pact it signed last year with Iran, alienating Washington from its allies and potentially freeing Iran to act on its ambitions.

   Trump called the nuclear pact a “disaster” and “the worst deal ever negotiated” during his campaign and said it could lead to a “nuclear holocaust.”

    In a speech to the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC in March, Trump declared that his “Number-One priority” would be to “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”

All of which makes it fascinating to note that, as AP reports, the Trump administration has notified Congress that Iran is complying with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by former President Barack Obama, and says the U.S. has extended the sanctions relief given to the Islamic republic in exchange for curbs on its atomic program. The certification of Iran’s compliance, which must be sent to Congress every 90 days, is the first issued by the Trump administration.

This is another Zero Hedge article courtesy of Brad Robertson, it showed up on their website at 8:27 a.m. on Wednesday morning EDT — and another link to it is here.

Maduro Preparing to Swap Venezuela’s Gold For Dollars

It was almost exactly two years ago when a cash-strapped Venezuela quietly conducted its first, little-noticed gold-for-cash swap with Citigroup, as part of which Maduro converted part of his nation’s gold reserves into at least $1 billion in cash courtesy of the US bank. As Reuters reported then, the motive was simple: convert $1 billion of the country’s gold into much needed dollars to fund imports and keep the economy from sinking. However, instead of selling the gold outright, a move which would have been met with a firestorm of protests from political opponents and allies alike, Maduro merely leased it to Citi instead.

Specifically, Venezuela provided 1.4 million troy ounces of gold to Citi in exchange for cash. And while Venezuela would have to pay interest on the funds, it got the key benefit of being able to maintain the gold as part of its foreign currency reserves. After all, the gold was “merely rehypothecated”, if only on paper, the actual physical gold would be transferred to an unknown vault of Citi’s choosing where it would become an asset effectively controlled by the bailed out U.S. ban (there was a brief scare last July when Citi warned it would close the account of the Venezuela Central Bank, which prompted us to ask if Citigroup was about to confiscate $1 billion in Venezuela gold).

While it is still unknown if Citi did in fact confiscate a substantial chunk of Venezuela’s sovereign gold, what is worth noting is that even just two years ago, Venezuela was in far better economic and social shape than it is currently, which ultimately prompted Maduro’s choice of picking a swap instead of an outright sale of the country’s gold. Now, however, with hyperinflation rampant, with daily protests, many of which turn violent and deadly, and with the opposition set to unleash the “mother of all protests” on Wednesday even as Maduro has ordered the army to take to the streets, the president has far fewer qualms about preserving even the illusion of stability at this point. What he does need, however, is access to dollars, be it to pay Venezuela’s creditors, provide funds to the cash strapped state-owned energy company PDVSA, or simply to pay the army which is the only thing keeping the nation away from a revolution, and Maduro from facing a deadly endgame.

Which is why Maduro is about to do what he did two years ago, only on a vastly greater scale, and perhaps simply sell Venezuela’s gold outright.

This is another Zero Hedge story…but this one comes courtesy of Richard Saler.  It put in an appearance on their Internet site at 9:25 p.m. EDT on Tuesday evening — and another link to it is here.

Scientific Proof ETFs Make Markets Dumber

One of the horses we have beaten to death starting in 2013 (with Why The TBAC Is Suddenly Very Worried About Market Liquidity) is that the relentless growth in ETFs in particular, and passive investing in general, is one of the greatest threats facing the U.S. equity market for one main reason: “phantom liquidity”, and specifically the thought experiment, conducted back in March 2015 by Howard Marks, of what happens if and when the ETF selling begins.

This is what we said one week ago:

    The relentless growth of passive investing in general, and ETFs in particular, has been extensively discussed on the pages over the past few years, most recently overnight when we presented a note from Convergex which laid out some ideas how investors can profit from the unstoppable – for now – shift from active, and expensive, management to cheaper, passive forms of asset allocation. Others, such as One River’s Eric Peters gave a decidedly more downbeat outlook on what the creeping growth of ETFs means for capital markets and price formation, warning that “there is no such thing as price discovery in index investing. And there will be no price discovery on the downside either. The stocks that have been blindly bought on the way up will be blindly sold.”

    That simplified analysis touches on the biggest threat facing ETF investors: namely “phantom liquidity” of what has effectively become the market’s biggest quasi-derivative product. In a nutshell, the threat here is that what is traditionally considered to be the market’s most liquid instrument, would be unable to satisfy a massive redemption wave due to a huge liquidity mismatch between the synthetic product, the ETF itself, and its underlying instruments, particularly in various types of debt ETFs.

The head of the BOE Mark Carney himself has warned about the risk of “disorderly unwinding of portfolios” due to the “lack of market liquidity.

I can certainly see where this could be an issue if the equity markets cratered big time, as there would no buyers…only sellers.  This is yet another story from Zero Hedge.  It was posted there at 3:37 p.m. EDT on Wednesday afternoon — and it comes courtesy of Richard Saler.  Another link to it is here.

The Real Message From the GDXJ Mess

In what seems a lifetime ago, I was the equity index trader at a big bank on Bay Street [in Toronto – Ed]. Although a lot has changed since then, there are parts of the game that are timeless. So I am putting my old hat back on to analyze VanEck’s recent problems arising from the success of their GDXJ ETF (Junior Gold Miners). And lest you think this will be a boring ETF specific piece, I urge you to suffer through the details as I believe the market is missing the bigger picture message.

For those unaware, VanEck recently announced they were halting the creation of the their GDXJ 3x times Bull shares (JNUG) because they were running into constraints. In fact, the popularity of the GDXJ ETF product has been so overwhelming, VanEck also reported they would be changing the index rules to accommodate the increased demand. From Bloomberg:

   The world’s second-largest exchange-traded fund linked to material producers has become the victim of its own success.

    With investors piling in amid a precious-metals recovery, VanEck Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF’s assets jumped 60 percent to $5.54 billion this year. That created a dilemma for the fund that tracks the MVIS Junior Gold Miners Index, as its holdings surge above 10 percent of some of the companies it owns.

    On Thursday, MVIS Index Solutions, a VanEck company, announced changes to its equity indexes, widening the criteria for inclusion into the gauge that is tracked by VanEck’s junior gold miner ETF.

Here’s another article in the ongoing GDXJ saga.  This one was posted on themacrotourist.com Internet site yesterday — and I extracted it from a Zero Hedge story that Richard Saler passed along.  It’s on the longish side, but certainly worth reading — and another link to it is here.

Gold trading systems experience growing pains

On the afternoon of April 11, London’s daily gold price benchmark fix took a peculiar turn: It was about $12 under the spot price. The auction appeared to be stuck on a descending escalator from an initial $1,265.75, before fixing at $1,252.90.

Such a discrepancy affects many participants in the global gold markets — hedgers and speculators, along with miners, refiners and jewelers, as well as banks and portfolio managers. But there was no mention of fat fingers. The initial reports attempting to explain this anomaly pointed to a new algorithm that U.S.-based Intercontinental Exchange, known as ICE, began using to determine prices, as a replacement for the standard auction chair setting the price.

The historic London Gold Fix was a telephone-based benchmark price auction, which began in 1919, when each representative raised a tiny British flag after receiving any price change from their dealing room. As long as a flag was up, the chairman could not declare the price as fixed. In 2015, this system was replaced by an electronic alternative, the London Bullion Market Association Gold Price, due to regulatory pressure and U.S. lawsuits alleging rigging by the banks that set bullion prices.

But it’s now evident that the discrepancy was all about a rush to gain market share in the fiercely competitive global marketplace for gold trading. Only one day before, ICE, an operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of data and listings services, in its urgency to obtain a bigger slice of the global gold market pie, introduced Central Clearing for the LBMA’s Gold Price Auction. The LBMA owns the intellectual property rights to the auction.

As I, along with others, have said before on many occasions…what do we need a fix for anyway?  This Bloomberg article appeared on their Internet site at 5:00 a.m. Denver time on Wednesday morning — and was updated four and a half hours later.  I found this on the gata.org Internet site — and another link to it is here.


My honey badger photos yesterday got a response from several readers, including Roy Stephens, who sent me this hilarious 4:11 minute youtube.com video clip headlined “Honey Badger Houdini” — and it’s worth watching. It also drew a response from Australian reader Garry Robinson, who sent along this terrific photo of an echidna …one of the few egg-laying mammals in the world…that he took near Yea, Victoria in Australia, while bike riding on The Great Victorian Rail Trail.  I found the second echidna photo on the Internet.  Click to enlarge.


To advance its prime mission, the CFTC actively solicits tips from the public in its quest to uncover wrongdoing and has instituted a formal whistleblower program designed to reward those who step forward to report wrongdoing. Sounds like a fairly formidable effort against market manipulation and fraud – a quarter of a billion taxpayer dollars annually, 700 full time employees and programs designed to generate tips and complaints from the public. One might think with resources like that, market manipulation wouldn’t stand a chance. Think again.

Those raising the allegations of a silver manipulation, like myself and others, have, basically, zero funds and zero employees budgeted towards raising the allegations of a silver manipulation. The allegations are driven simply by observing price action and COMEX positioning changes, as reported in the COT reports. Despite the programs designed to encourage and generate tips from the public, the record indicates that the CFTC has become downright hostile and unwilling to openly discuss any allegations of a COMEX silver manipulation, even though the allegations are based upon Commission data. Talk about upside down.

I’m told from those who know of him personally, that the new director of the Enforcement Division, James McDonald, is as straight and honorable as a June day is long. Certainly his public service record attests to that. McDonald has a strong legal background and, get this, his last position at the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York involved successful prosecution against public corruption. Sounds like his experience might be put to good use should he not succumb to orders from above to forget about the silver manipulation. Someday, someone new at the agency will refuse to go along with orders from above to ignore what is a market crime in progress. Hopefully, McDonald will prove up to the task.Silver analyst Ted Butler: 19 April 2017

The powers-that-be set new low closes in gold, silver and platinum for this move down yesterday…but palladium was spared.  The low tick in silver yesterday was not a new low for this move down.  I’ll certainly be very surprised if this “salami slicing” doesn’t continue for a while.  As for how much longer is anyone’s guess but, as is usually the case, it depends on how much blood that JP Morgan et al can get out of the Managed Money traders.

Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals, plus copper, once again.  The RSI for gold is now out of overbought territory, but still has a long way to go.  Silver is approaching neutral, but both the 200 and 50-day moving averages are juicy targets only a chip shot away for ‘da boyz’ — and I expect closes well below those prices before this engineered price decline has run it course.  The ‘click to enlarge‘ feature helps a bit with the first four charts.

And as I type this paragraph, the London open is less than ten minutes away — and I note that the gold price didn’t do much in Far East trading on their Thursday, but did spend most of it crawling a dollar or so below unchanged.  I see that it popped into the green just now — and is up 50 cents the ounce currently.  Silver didn’t do much in Far East trading either, but it spent the Thursday session over there at, or just above unchanged — and it’s also popped a bit higher in the last minute or so — and is up 5 cents.  Platinum traded a dollar or two above unchanged all through the Far East trading session — and it has jumped a bit in the last few minutes as well — and is up 4 bucks.  The palladium price tried to take off minutes after 9 a.m. in Shanghai, but that was knocked lower by a few dollars — and from there it traded flat until ten minutes before the Zurich open — and it blasted higher at that point — and is up 9 dollars as Zurich opens for business.

Net HFT gold volume is approaching 32,000 contracts — and that number in silver is 6,500 contracts, with decent roll-over/switch volume out of May and into July, which will be the new front month once May goes off the board at the end of next week.

The dollar index traded flat until around 9 a.m. in Shanghai — and then had a quick up/down move that only lasted an hour or so — and the high tick at that point was 99.85.  It’s been heading quietly lower ever since — and is down 11 basis points as London opens.

There’s not much more to comment on regarding yesterday’s news in the precious metals.  But as I noted in my comments about the silver warehouse stocks yesterday, JP Morgan picked up another container load of silver — and their COMEX silver stash is a whisker under 102 million troy ounces.  And as I mentioned to Ted on the phone yesterday, you have to wonder how much is enough for these guys.  At least to this point it’s not enough — and as Ted mentioned, the May delivery month in silver beckons — and First Day Notice is exactly five business days away from today.  At that time we’ll find out if JP Morgan is a big stopper for its own account during that delivery month as well.

And as I post today’s column on the website at 4:05 a.m. EDT, I see that the tiny rally in gold going into the London open was capped — and the price driven lower immediately — and that’s despite the fact that the dollar index has fallen off a bit of a cliff.  ‘Da boyz’ have gold down $2.20 an ounce at the moment.  Silver also rallied sharply, but met the same fate — and is now down a penny.  Ditto for platinum, as it’s now up only a dollar at this point.  Palladium, although capped at the Zurich open, has still managed to hold onto its earlier gain — and is currently up 8 dollars.

Net HFT gold volume is now north of 42,000 contracts — and that number in silver is up to around 9,200 contracts.

The dollar index has taken a bit of a header — and is off its low tick at the moment — but is still down 22 basis points.  It was down 26 basis points at its low.  This is another case where it matters not what the dollar index is doing, but what ‘da boyz’ are doing in the futures market.  We’ve seen this all before.

Well, it’s another day — and probably another day when all the price action that matters will center around the London p.m. gold fix once again.  And it’s another day where JP Morgan et al will be active in the COMEX futures market in New York.

See you on Friday.


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