Bets on commodities go awry

Photo: Reuters

Shock was the overriding sentiment in commodity markets on Friday after Brexit voting trends became clear. Brokers and clients remained in turmoil after commodities opened on the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) and gold hit the higher circuit of 6% in opening trade. Globally, the metal's price crossed $1,362 an ounce on Brexit looking likely. However, as time went on, profit booking from those who shorted the market in the morning and long unwinding brought down gold's price.

Still, Mumbai gold saw the highest jump in a day after August 2011 to close 4.2% higher at Rs 30,755 for 10 grams, the highest level after March 2014. At this price, there was no buying and some selling from traders and selling of old jewellery and coins.

Metals were down by 2-4% on the London Metal Exchange; on MCX, by 2-3.5%, and Brent oil was down 5.5%, to $48.3 a barrel.

In India, gold was already trading at a big discount to cost of imports, but the discount turned to a historic high on Friday. Last February, the discount was $37.5 an ounce, on Friday, it was $40 an ounce (Rs 850 per 10g) on the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange. This means gold trades globally at $1,325 an oz, but was available in India at $1,285, plus import duty.

Andrew Coke, principal analyst at London-based Metal Bulletin Research, said: "Financial markets were pricing in a remain victory, so Brexit outcome is a shock. In early trade today though, amid the rush to safe havens, the base metals have suffered less of a hit than other markets, so far at least. Where they go after the initial volatility depends on what we get in the way of damage limitation from politicians and policy makers, not only in the UK and Europe but also elsewhere."

Silver closed Rs 42,930 a kg in Mumbai, up 2.4% from Thursday.

Ajay Kedia, director, Kedia Commodities, said: "Many clients and brokers were on their toes due to severe margin calls, as most positions were in high beta commodities, where their bets went wrong. In metals and oil, most were long, while in precious metals, traders were short. In morning trade, all positions got reversed, resulting in heavy losses and margin calls. However, late afternoon saw buying in gold, as rising uncertainties could keep bullion elevated."

On the MCX, gold and silver saw a rise in Open Interest (OI, unsettled contracts) as traders seem to have built fresh bullish position. In crude oil, the OI fell.

MCX daily average turnover of day session up to June 23 was Rs 10,428 crore, turnover on June 23 day session was at Rs 14,776 crore and today's turnover is at Rs 26,907 crore.

Globally, gold cooled to $1,325 an oz, but in the morning it had seen a high of $1,362, up $90 an ounce from the day before, reflecting the safe-haven rush. On the MCX, it was up 6% to the upper circuit at Rs 31,708 per 10 gram and further saw a high of Rs 31,925 before falling to 31,574. Silver was trading around a 4% high of Rs 42,812 per kg. On the MCX, on Thursday night, gold closed at Rs 29,914 per 10 gram and silver at Rs 41,190 a kg.

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