The gold and silver market saw healthy trading activity in February, but the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) says the latest data have little meaning as the global economy and precious metals markets have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The numbers were buoyant for February although given that they relate to the period before global markets moved to lock down it is perhaps premature to be able to assess the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic,” the LBMA said in its latest clearing stats.
The LBMA releases clearing statistics each month showing the net volume of gold and silver transferred between accounts of members, essentially providing a snapshot of the amount of trading activity. The data are released one month in arrears.
The volume of ounces transferred daily in February increased by 10.7% month-on-month to 21.4 million; the corresponding value was 13.2% higher at $34.2 billion, the LBMA said. There was a daily average of 4,199 transfers in February, up 9.6% from the prior month. Clearers settled on average 5,106 ounces per transfer, relatively unchanged from January.
In silver, the average amount of metal transferred daily in February increased by 10.2% to 300 million ounces, with the corresponding value 10% higher at $5.37 billion, the LBMA said. There was a daily average of 1,442 transfers in February, up 21.2% from the previous month. Clearers settled on average 207,952 ounces per transfer, 9% lower than in January.
The gold-silver price ratio averaged 89.1 in February, the highest ratio since July, 2019, the LBMA said. The ratio measures how many ounces of silver it takes to buy an ounce of gold, with a higher number meaning gold is outperforming.
Looking at gold and silver investment holdings at the end of 2019, the LBMA said that, there were a record 8,326 tonnes of gold, valued at $407.7 billion and 36,147 tonnes of silver valued at $21 billion. This equates to approximately 666,045 gold bars and 1,204,909 silver bars.
However, since February, the gold market has seen massive volatility. Analysts have noted that in March, investors were forced to sell gold in a “race to cash,” as market liquidity dried up. The gold market was also hit with a small liquidity crisis in the last full week of March.
The global gold supply has shrunk as three major refineries in Switzerland were forced to halt operations because of the spreading coronavirus. Analysts have also noted that nations forced to implement lockdown measures have disrupted gold’s global supply chain.