By Dimitri Speck
There are two gold price fixings in London, an AM one and a PM one. Statistical studies have shown evidence of price anomalies around these points in time during the previous fixing process that suggested price manipulation was taking place. I have first drawn attention to the anomalies surrounding the fixings in 2002. At the time I introduced an examination method designed to uncover price manipulation based on creating an average of intraday price performance. This study showed regularly repeating price declines around the time of the fixing.
We want to examine now whether anything has changed with respect to price manipulation since the introduction of the new fixing process. The chart below shows the average intraday price performance of all days since the introduction of the new fixing until early October, this is to say over a time period of approximately six months. The right hand scale shows the price, the x-axis scale the time of the day (US EST).
In order to create the average price chart, the price moves of every minute of all trading days are averaged and chained. The two gold fixings are marked on the chart as well. This seasonal intraday pattern chart therefore shows you at one glance how the gold price has moved intraday during the six months since the new fixing has been introduced.
Gold’s average intraday price move between 20 March and 6 October 2015 vs. AM and PM gold price fixing
The following can be stated about gold’s intraday price moves since 20 March:
- On average, the gold price declines at the time of the AM fixing in London. This is the most prominent move in the course of the trading day.
- At the time of the PM fixing, which exhibited strong anomalies in the past, no price decline can be detected anymore. On the contrary, a small price spike has formed.
The regular price decline around the PM fixing shows that reference prices continue to be held down. The action has merely moved from the PM to the AM fixing. Apparently the low volume trading period in the morning hours is now used to manipulate the price downward.
At the PM fixing no clustering of price declines can be detected over the past six months. However, it would have been odd if those manipulating the price would have simply continued as before, in light of the fact that the PM fixing had come under a lot of fire in the press and as well as under the scrutiny of regulators.
The discontinuation of the previous fixing doesn’t mean that price manipulation has ended. The modern procedure definitely represents progress though. Gold market manipulations are in any case mainly performed in the futures markets. They are merely more frequent and stronger during the fixings. The new fixing process however doesn’t alter the irregularities in the futures markets.
Gold price manipulation continues. For investors it at least offers the possibility to purchase gold at more favorable prices than would be the case otherwise.