Large speculators using the US Comex market to trade gold or silver futures must report their positions to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) once a week. So must ‘commercial’ traders using the futures market to hedge their position. Added together, these smaller positions make up what’s known as the ‘Non-Reportable’ category of traders in the weekly Commitment of Traders report. ETFs are a financial instrument traded on the stock market and designed to track the market price of another asset, such as a group of businesses, bonds, or a specific commodity. Created as a trust, an ETF will typically hold enough of the underlying asset to back its market value. Investors then own shares in that trust, but do not own the underlying asset directly.
An increase in the supply of gold in the market reduces its price. At the end of the loan period, the bank buys back the gold and returns it to the central bank. An investor or trader who owns an asset or holds a derivative contract which will profit from it rising in price is said to be ‘long’ or to have ‘a long position’.
The minimum acceptable fineness of the Good Delivery Bars is 99.5% for gold bars and 99.9% for silver bars. Bars with a purity less than these may not be referred to as “bullion”. In the physical gold market, premium means the extra price charged in Asia’s large dealing centres, over and above London prices. Notably quoted in Mumbai, Hong Kong and Shanghai, the premium is typically priced in US dollars per ounce, and reflects local conditions. Bullion also plays a key role in the banking industry, typically in the form of gold reserves held by central banks like the Federal Reserve. Although money itself is no longer backed by gold, these bullion reserves are among the most important asset classes held on central bank balance sheets.
How is gold traded?
You protect yourself against market volatility, currency fluctuations, and inflation risks. Bullion is non-ferrous metal that has been refined to a high standard of elemental purity. The term is ordinarily applied to bulk metal used in the production of coins and especially to precious metals such as gold and silver.
If you want to buy physical bullion, you can simply buy, for example, coins or rounds through a local online dealer who can deliver the bullion to you or perhaps store it in a vault for a fee. Jewelry plated in a precious metal isn’t considered bullion because it is not pure. Investing in the stock market means owning a piece of a company and having potential voting rights in that company. Investing in gold means owning a physical asset that holds intrinsic value. There are specialised websites dedicated to buying, selling, and storing physical gold through a broker. That way, you don’t have the responsibility of storing it yourself.
The value of bullion coins is also much more dependent upon the prevailing winds of precious metals prices. For example, some dealers and investors often categorize American Eagles as both coins and bullion. They are simply “bullion coins”—essentially one and the same in that case. The same is true for the Canadian Maple Leaf coins from the Royal Canadian Mint, among other government-issued bullion coins. To work out the current price of gold bullion you hold, multiply the weight of the gold (in ounces) by the current spot price of gold. When you have physical possession of gold bars, ingots, and coins, you can sell them when the price is attractive.
Paper gold vs physical gold: How to choose
They are also essential for various industrial applications such as those in the automotive and medical fields. The key requirement for a metal product to qualify as bullion is high purity, with metal content typically well above 90% pure. For this reason, gold jewelry is generally not categorized as bullion unless it is 24 karats (i.e. 99.9% pure gold, also called .999 fine gold). Bullion is frequently stamped with its weight and the percentage of purity of the precious metals it contains so that buyers can determine its value.
These assets can help add diversity to a portfolio and provide a way to hedge against currency risks, inflation risks, and geopolitical risks. Historically, precious metals have performed well during times of uncertainty. Coins and bars of precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium are considered bullion. Bullion “rounds” are coins made of precious metals that are not intended to serve as currency, like gold or silver coins. If the bullion bank sells the gold on the spot market, it will receive cash for the transaction. The spot market is where bullion and other commodities are traded at the prevailing market rate.
Bullion Market: Overview, Different Types, FAQ
No-one who trades professional market gold ever pays for impurities. Because silver fineness is greater, and the value is lower by weight, silver is traded gross. Anyone who wishes to acquire precious metals may do so in either paper or bullion form.
Some miners became over-hedged however, losing money when the gold price then began to rise. The industry started to close its hedging positions, buying back the metal it had sold at rising prices. The gold miners’ hedge-book was effectively closed in early 2011, as prices rose to new all-time highs. The Gold Investor Index is a monthly indicator of private sentiment towards physical gold bullion. It is calculated using proprietary data from BullionVault, the world’s largest provider of investment bullion ownership online.
Understanding the Bullion Market
Bullion can sometimes be considered legal tender, most often held in reserves by central banks or used by institutional investors to hedge against inflationary effects on their portfolios. Approximately 20% of mined gold is held by central banks worldwide. This gold is held as bullions in reserves, which the bank uses to settle international debt or stimulate the economy through gold lending. The central bank lends gold from their bullion reserves to bullion banks at a rate of approximately 1% to help raise money.
Trading in the commodity market includes buying and selling precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum. Investors have valued gold throughout much of recorded history and many societies have used it as currency. Rising prices or inflation in an economy tend to erode the return on investments. If an investor, for example, earned 4% on a bond and prices rose by 2%, the return on the bond investment was only 2% in real terms. As a result, gold and silver bullion are used to hedge investment portfolios against inflation.
How Does Bullion Work?
To assess the purity of gold bullion, the centuries-old technique of fire assay is still employed, together with modern spectroscopic instrumentation, to accurately determine its quality. Bullion is gold and silver that is officially recognized as being at least 99.5% and 99.9% pure and is in the form of bars or ingots. Bullion is often kept as a reserve asset by governments and central banks. Most typically, the phrase ‘paper gold’ means US gold futures and options contracts, which are effectively a bet on the price moving higher or lower. Futures contracts may be settled for physical gold, but they don’t refer to any specific metal, and they are settled for cash in the vast majority of instances.
As aforementioned, gold is generally considered a safe investment. Unlike other investments, gold is also not directly impacted by interest rates and is a scarce asset. You can learn about the best ways to buy gold and silver by reading our free guide, Ready to Buy Gold. It’s online, it’s free, and you don’t need to register to read it here right now. Buyers should purchase the coins they like, whether it be for collectible or investment purposes. Bullion value refers to the melt value of a given precious metals product, irrespective of its actual retail value.
To take any of these courses of action, you’ll need to open a brokerage account. You’ll then need to fund your account and place an order with your broker.
These options can be more appealing to investors because they offer greater flexibility. As of July 2022, the SPDR Gold Trust is the largest gold ETF by assets, with total assets of over $55 billion and a trading price of $159.01. Central banks in Europe began to sell as the price fell through the 1980s and ’90s, with the Swiss deciding bullion traders meaning in a referendum to sell 1,300 tonnes in 1999. The UK then shocked the market by announcing it would sell half its national gold reserves that same year. Fearing a sharp drop in prices, European central banks quickly agreed to give advance notice of their sales, capping their joint disposals to 400 tonnes per year until 2004.
ETFs typically have low fees and are easier for most investors to gain access to the bullion market instead of owning physical silver or gold outright. Where the purity of gold jewellery is measured in carat, investment gold is measured in fineness. Near-pure 24-carat gold is equal to 995 parts per thousand, known as “995 fine” (also “0.995” and “two-nines-five”). That is the minimum fineness specified by the London wholesale market’s Good Delivery standard. Bullion coins for retail investors are typically 999 fine (also “0.999” or “three-nines”), as are kilobars for the Chinese investment market. Professional wholesale dealers only ever charge for fine gold content.
Gold’s long history makes it an attractive, secure form of long-term investment and wealth preservation. Its value continues to grow slowly, though it is less impacted by inflation and volatility. A mix of unrefined gold and silver, produced at the mine to make shipment cheaper. It occurs when a person gives property to someone else for safekeeping. Bailment is different from a contract of sale, as it only involves the transfer of possession and not its ownership. A call option is a type of derivative contract that gives the right but not the obligation to buy an underlying asset like shares, commodities, currencies, and others at a pre-agreed price and date.
- The key requirement for a metal product to qualify as bullion is high purity, with metal content typically well above 90% pure.
- BullionVault only vaults London Good Delivery bars for its users, who can own down to 1 gram of metal (fine gold or gross silver) inside those wholesale units.
- Prior to receiving the gold, the buyer will not have legal possession of a signed contract for gold.
- Any numismatic coins that are collectibles, such as proof coins, are generally not considered bullion, even if they are made of rare metals.
When choosing how to buy bullion gold or bullion silver, you should consider buying via gold ETFs or futures contracts. These are easy to arrange and many banks and financial institutions consider these investments as legal tender. The London bullion market is an over-the-counter market for wholesale trading of gold and silver. The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) coordinates activities of its members and other participants in the London bullion market. The LBMA sets and promotes quality standards for gold and silver bullion bars.