Asian gold demand 'decent', premiums 'steady' as US futures exchange cuts margin
Source: BullionVault.com , Author: Adrian Ash
Posted: Fri May 25, 2012 3:27 pm

INTERNATIONAL. London quotes for wholesale gold bars held above US$1,560 per ounce Friday morning, cutting the week's losses to 1.9% as European stock markets reversed their earlier rally and the Euro fell to a new two-year low.

Oil rose, but commodities headed for their fourth weekly loss in succession as Asian stock markets crept 0.1% higher from Thursday's near 5-month low.

Silver bullion rose above US$28.30 per ounce, recovering two-thirds of this week's 5.5% drop to Wednesday's low.

"[Mid-week] was bloodshed as panic and fear continue to dominate the market," said one Singapore dealer.

But "while Indian [physical] demand has been lower than normal, overall we continue to see decent buying interest from the rest of Asia," says today's note from Standard Bank in London, "especially South East Asia."

Premiums on gold bars traded in Tokyo rose Friday to US$1.50 per ounce above the world's benchmark price – set by quotes for London delivery – "as investors turned from sellers to buyers," says Reuters.

Gold bar premiums in Hong Kong and Singapore "were steady from last week," says the newswire.

US gold futures in contrast – where speculators have cut their bullish exposure by two-thirds from August 2011's record – will cost less in margin downpayments starting next Wednesday, the CME trading exchange said yesterday.

The second cut to margin requirements since February, the CME's move cuts the initial margin required to open a 100-ounce gold future to $9,113 – some 5.8% of the June contract's current value, and down by one-fifth from the record margin requirement reached last summer.

"Margin reductions tend to have a less immediate impact on prices than margin hikes," says ANZ Bank's commodity desk in a note.

"Nevertheless, the reduction is likely to be mildly supportive going forward."

In exchange-traded funds, Thursday saw the US$68 billion SPDR Gold Trust add 2 tonnes to the bullion holdings needed to back its shares.

Some 3.8% below its record holding of June 2010, the SPDR remained 12 tonnes lighter for the week at 1270 tonnes.

"Gold's direction seems to be driven more by the level of market risk aversion and the Euro currently," says Anne-Laure Tremblay at BNP Paribas, quoted by Reuters.

"Market sentiment on gold is fragile at the moment. A shift to a more accommodative monetary policy stance may be needed to sustain a gold bull rally."

The European Central Bank will next meet and set interest rates for the Eurozone's 330-million citizens on 6th June.

French government bond yields fell to new record lows as investors pushed prices higher, with 10-year debt offering an annual return of 2.42%.

"The current German rate is really low and yield seekers are looking for other opportunities," reckons bond trader Hajime Nagata at Diam Co., which runs $124 billion in asset and is part of Japan's second-biggest life insurance group, Dai-ichi.

Noting that the new French government of Socialist leader Francoise Hollande is raising the tax-free ceiling for domestic savings, "The assumption is that this money will be used to purchase French government bonds," Nagata is quoted by Bloomberg.

German 10-year Bund yields today held flat at 1.39% per year. Comparable US debt yields edged down to 1.76%.

The falling Euro meantime pushed the price of wholesale gold bars for Eurozone buyers back above €40,000 per kilo, unchanged for the week after an overnight dip.

Adrian Ash is head of research at BullionVault, the secure, low-cost gold and silver market for private investors online, where you can buy gold today vaulted in Zurich on US$3 spreads and 0.8% dealing fees.

(c) BullionVault 2012

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