GOLD PRICES slipped in quiet trade in London on Monday, retreating near the lowest levels since mid-August at $1119 per ounce as European stockmarkets held flat, ignoring another sharp drop in Asian equities.
New data overnight showed China’s People Bank growing its gold bullion reserves again in August, extending the growth since end-June’s restatement to 2.1%, even as broader reserves fell more than 10%.
Returning however from last week’s Victory Day commemorations, the Chinese stockmarket dropped 2.5% on Monday.
“This week’s trade and inflation data out of China,” says Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi’s analyst Jonathan Butler, “will give a gauge on the scale of the country’s economic slowdown.
“Any downside surprises have the potential to ignite safe haven bids in gold through a further equity market washout [or] fear of contagion into other economies.”
Speculative traders in US futures and options last week grew their net long position of bullish minus bearish bets across that group week to the highest level since late June, data from US regulator the CFTC showed Friday.
Equal to 241 tonnes, that net long position stood 5% below the last 20-year average, but was barely half the level averaged during gold’s decade-long bull market from 2001 to 2011.
Open interest in silver derivatives meantime fell 8% last week to reach the smallest level since May 2014.
Silver bullion today edged lower to $14.50 per ounce, a new 5-year low when first hit last November by a sharp slump in prices.
With Shanghai opening for the first time since Wednesday, Chinese gold prices had earlier “gapped lower on the open to catch up with the FX and international gold markets,” notes ICBC Standard Bank, but premiums above comparable London quotes held near $5 per ounce for the main domestic contract, incentivizing wholesalers to import more bullion.
The Shanghai Gold Exchange
‘s so-called ‘international’ contracts however saw zero volume for the second session running.
The People’s Bank last month added another 16 tonnes to its gold bullion holdings, fresh reserves data said today, again doubling the monthly rate of additions from its 2009-2015 average.
At that rate, note analysts at US investment bank Citigroup – and with almost $3.6 trillion still remaining in its FX reserves – the People’s Bank could continue the summer’s rate of spending to defend the Yuan for 3 years.