Posts Tagged ‘Hedge Funds’


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Widowmaker’ Oil Trade Lives Up to Its Name

OIL COMMODITIES MARKETS ECONOMY INTEREST RATES INFLATION FUEL PRICES GASOLINE FUTURES NYSE FTSE
CNBC.com
| 12 May 2011 | 03:10 AM ET
Big oil traders who bet on a rise in gasoline prices relative to heating oil ahead of the summer driving season may have thought they broke the curse of a “widowmaker” trade even as oil prices crashed.
They were dead wrong. Some of the traders who shun the big, directional bets that hedge funds love have crowded into a common springtime trade: betting gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) will hold at a premium to heating oil futures as consumption accelerates into the summer.
They have been counting their winnings since March, when the spread staged its biggest seasonal rise since 2007.
The surge accelerated earlier this week as the Mississippi River swelled, threatening refinery operations in Louisiana and Tennesse.
But then came Wednesday, when gasoline futures collapsed in the biggest absolute drop in more than two years.
The spread dropped by over 17 cents, the biggest one-day move since September 2009.
“There will be widows. Some people got pretty whipsawed. But that trade is not for the faint of heart,” said Stephen Schork, editor of the Schork Report.
Indeed, lately it’s been a stomach-churning ride. The spread has moved by more than 6 cents in either direction in four of the past eight trading sessions; prior to last week it moved by such a margin only nine times in two years.
First, the U.S. Energy Information Administration came out with data showing an unexpected build in gasoline stocks as the threat level for refineries from the Mississippi river abated.
This, coupled with mounting concerns that gasoline pump prices near the critical $4 a gallon level will cause U.S. consumers to balk, pushed many bulls to the exit.
RBOB gasoline at one point slumped by over 30 cents or 8.95 percent.
The price drop was so big it triggered a five-minute trading halt in all three oil major contracts for the first time since Sept. 22, 2008.
Victims
The “widowmaker” trade tends to be popular among trading houses and hedge funds which house some of the biggest speculative traders in the market.
One victim is said to have lost $500 million on a single bet in the summer of 2008 when gasoline failed to reach a premium to heating oil, contrary to the usual pattern.
On Wednesday, traders said a big Europe-based oil trading company was forced to stop out, or reverse its long position on gasoline to prevent further losses.
Volumes spiked to the highest level in hitory as dealers rushed to place orders.
“If you were long you were happy this time yesterday and you’re probably not so happy now,” said an oil trader with a European bank. “The flood story freaked everyone out. The market attracted tourists and then we overshot.”
U.S. refineries, which ramped up their gasoline production by 111,000 barrels-per-day last week, according to the EIA, are also set to take a hit if the slump in the futures market is carried to spot markets over the coming few days.
The price crash in theory wiped off more than $5 in profits for every barrel of crude processed into gasoline.
Traders who sensed that the price may have been reaching a peak were relieved on Wednesday to have sold near the top.
The signs were already there. Gasoline demand has been on a continuous slump since the second week of April according to EIA’s 4-week average gasoline supply data.
“Luckily, I sold this morning. I’m too scared to watch it,” said a gasoline trader with a bank.
Before Wednesday’s crash, gasoline was trading at a record premium to heating oil, according to Reuters data going back to 2008.
Others saw the plunge as symptomatic of a new oil trading environment, characterized by huge price swings following last week’s record drop in oil prices, for no obvious reason.
In percentage terms gasoline price fell by less than crude in last week’s price crash, but on Wednesday they led the whole complex lower, analysts said.
“Last week’s steep slide has increased volatility in the market, and we are still responding skittishly to that.
Often in the period after a crash like that things become a little more volatile,” said Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy.
Flagship commodity fund Astenbeck II run by top Phibro trader Andrew Hall was one name that suffered a double-digit loss last week as oil prices tumbled.

commodities – ‘Widowmaker’ Oil Trade Lives Up to Its Name – CNBC

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Clive Capital On the Commodity Slam…sorry,we mean, Outlook

Until we learn which hedge funds REALLY got clobbered, Chris Levett’s $5 billion Clive Capital, which lost $400 million, will be known as the hedge fund that just got clobbered by the commodities dump.

Clive was “at a loss to explain what had caused crude oil markets to be “annihilated,” Clive’s management said, according to the FT.
We assume Levitt’s will bounce back. But for some smaller funds, what happened last week was game over.
Until then, check out what Clive Capital was saying about commodities in October.
Below is a summary from their October letter to investors. We published Clive’s macro view in November.
From Clive Capital’s October letter to investors:
Energy
— Bullish on gas, power, and emissions
  • Estimates for U.S. onshore oil production growth are continually revised up
  • In Asia, Chinese oil demand continues to beat expectations
  • With floating inventories of crude and products continuing to whittle away, oil fundamentals appear to be tightening. Onshore commercial inventories would be the next to draw, which should be supportive to oil spreads in general.
  • Ethanol shortages in 2011 look increasingly possible, which would be supportive for gasoline, particularly in Brazil and the U.S.
  • Gas is expected to remain in a competitive position versus Coal all winter long and throughout 2011.
  • Germany will reach 2008 level power consumption by the end of 2011 if current growth trend is sustained.
Precious Metals
— Bullish on Precious Metals Growing fears over the value of the major paper currencies as well as the persistence of ultra low real rates across the world should be bullish for Precious Metals as a group going forward. We made no major changes to our Gold positioning and should continue to benefit from a move higher in prices… PGM’s also rallied in October; with Palladium outperforming Platinum and seeing Palladium prices reach 9-year highs. The longer-term bullish supply story is not only a function of constrained supply but also of increased cost pressures (particularly in the face of a strong South African Rand and power tariff increases), which are reducing producer profit margins despite these higher prices. On the demand side, tighter emissions legislation around the world has been a positive driver for many years. The implementation of regulations for off-road vehicles (e.g. those used in agriculture, construction) in Europe and North America in 2011 as well as demand from stationary fuel cells should add two further demand components to markets that are already struggling/unable to supply enough metal for all the other uses.
Base Metals
Bullish on Copper and Tin Market balances for 2011 are pointing towards market deficits in Copper, Tin and Lead while Nickel and Zinc should see small surpluses… Copper mine supply is expected to expand by less than 500kt in 2011 (compared to annual refined production of around 19mt)… To put this into perspective, global demand is expected to expand by around 700kt (with the bulk of that growth coming from China and using very conservative assumptions for the G3). As such, there is a strong likelihood that the market will record an even bigger deficit in 2011 than the estimated 300-400kt deficit in 2010. Add in the growing likelihood of physically backed Base Metal ETFs and one could easily envisage a scenario where several metals, particularly Copper and Tin, trade well into record territory in 2011 while others, such as lead, Zinc and Nickel (which are still well below their respective 2007/08 peaks) will see prices rising closer to those prior highs.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/check-out-what-clive-capital-was-saying-about-commodities-before-the-annilhilation-2011-5#ixzz1LrXHGfGX

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Clive Capital On Commodity Outlook


Also read:

Clive Capital Investor Letter on the Commodity Slam 

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Mar 24, 2011 – 21:27


Cracks showing in business oasis Switzerland

There are not many empty flats left in Swiss cities

There are not many empty flats left in Swiss cities (Keystone)


by Matthew Allen, swissinfo.ch

A shortage of affordable homes and international schools, along with a prolonged row over tax, threatens to weaken Switzerland’s magnetic pull for foreign firms.

Lured by low tax rates and a high standard of living, a steady stream of overseas companies have set up operations in Switzerland in recent years. But there are signs of growing discontent from new arrivals.


Top of the grumble list is the astronomic rise in house prices in Geneva, Zurich and Zug – a trend that has already priced many locals out of the market, and threatens to do the same for foreign workers.

“The new Eldorado has become even more of a magnet and there is a risk that this could result in a social crisis,” Emmanuel Fragnière of Geneva’s HEG School of Business Administration told swissinfo.ch earlier this month.

“Politicians are very happy to collect the new taxes, but they need a coherent policy to promote the location that takes into account structural difficulties.”

Problems are also showing up in Zug and in Rolle, situated between Geneva and Lausanne.


Noise control

“No one imagined what would happen with so many people from outside Switzerland coming here to work,” Rolle Social Democrat politician Patrick Bréchon told swissinfo.ch.

“They are not really creating local jobs. The housing market is like a jungle. House prices have shot up unbelievably and infrastructure – transport, roads and schools – is really behind.”

Local complaints have also been matched with anecdotal evidence of foreign workers finding it tough going in their newly adopted country. The British magazine, the Economist, interviewed newcomers complaining of boredom and a lack of places in international schools.

“You need muscle to get kids in international schools,” said one financier named only as Alex. “Otherwise it’s a Swiss school, where your kids will find it hard to settle.”

Others experienced problems adapting to stricter Swiss regulations on noise and refuse collection than they were used to at home.

Geneva-based relocation expert Francois Micheloud acknowledged that the huge influx of foreign firms and workers had created some structural problems, made worse by slow planning and construction rules.


Tax uncertainty

But he firmly believed that solutions could be found to ease the pressures, such as developing rural areas north of Lausanne or in canton Vaud.

“We are not like Monaco – a small piece of rock where you cannot build any more,” he told swissinfo.ch. “Bottlenecks will be resolved by companies spreading out to areas that are still within reach of Geneva airport.”

Switzerland’s vaunted tax competitiveness is also coming under sustained pressure from the European Union. The Swiss authorities have made noises that the corporate tax system could be revamped to meet some EU demands, but nobody knows how this could be done.

“Companies interested in relocation to Switzerland should know what the tax rules will be like in future,” tax expert Stephan Kuhn of Ernst & Young told swissinfo.ch. “They would not come to Switzerland if the tax system is unpredictable and subject to major increases.”

British-based companies, on the other hand, received a boost from Wednesday’s budget announcement that tax rates would be cut by two per cent in the next three years, a full percentage point more than previously thought.


Incentives remain

This prompted advertising giant WPP to consider relocating its tax base back to Britain from Ireland, where it had recently moved.

In a recent interview in the British Observer newspaper, the chief executive of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, Andrew Witty, chided British firms for heading to cheaper tax regimes, saying they had broken their bond with society.

“We could go, in theory, anywhere for a low tax rate. But first of all, how do you know that country isn’t going to change its tax rate in ten minutes?” he said.

However, Britain’s new 23 per cent rate would still be higher than the Swiss burden. Depending on where a company is based, combined effective federal and cantonal rates vary between 24.5 and 14 per cent.

Francois Micheloud is convinced that the relocation of foreign firms to Switzerland will continue “for many years to come”.

“The incentives for companies to come to Switzerland remain the same as before: competitive tax rates, excellent transport links, a central European location, access to a highly skilled work force, clusters of business competence and flexible labour laws,” he told swissinfo.ch.

“And Switzerland is still a delightful place in which to live.”


Matthew Allen, swissinfo


RATING

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FEEDBACK

Place your feedback

EF, Switzerland
@Rene. What about the greed of the swiss communities???? I have lived here for 6 years and whenever foreigners complain (which often involves simply asking a question) they are hit with absolute vitriol from the Swiss who constantly want to proclaim that people don’t integrate or that people are filth because they don’t blindly accept the “CH is perfect” mantra. Why can’t the Swiss take responsibility for offering up their country to foreign companies for the sake of receiving more tax revenue and more consumption (especially with regard to real estate)??? Where are the Swiss peoples vitriol about that? I’ve known many educated foreigners who came with the goal of integrating– but the reality is that the Swiss are often inhospitable and downright unwilling to invite others into their coveted world. So foreigners are forced to rely on each other. Why do you Swiss want to create a society that is so fragmented– with different groups staying in different ghettos????? You will pay for it in the end. And it is all due to your own GREED. Companies and expats can’t come here without your approval– you have been courting these companies to come here. You had better start thinking ahead as to the human and social consequences of your greed and stop blaming others.

Lisa, Switzerland
We’ve lived here for 4 years. In that time we have had a bike and a scooter stolen right from our locked apartment building to which our managers replied “Shouldn’t have left them there” even though everyone else does. My husband had his backpack stolen off the train. He had placed it behind him rather than on a seat which then takes up a seat someone else could have used. When the train stopped in Bern a man pulled it out and took off. At the next stop when my husband went to get up and noticed it missing, the woman sitting next to him said a man took it at the previous stop. When my husband asked her why she didn’t say something she just shrugged her shoulders. That was certainly being helpful (not). A good portion of the kids here act more like thugs than decent human beings. I could go on and on. The truth is there is crime here just like everywhere else, what bothers me is that the Swiss act so much more superior than everyone else, when the truth is they are no better or worse than the rest of civilization.

Rene, Switzerland
@ EF, Switzerland: Your concluding question: “But then again, why don’t the companies ask more questions so they understand more than just what the tax situation will look like?” The answer is: Corporations couldn’t care less about the consequences about moving their operations (operations, headquarters or P.O. Box?) to Switzerland other than the “low tax haven”, fringe benefits in the name of higher net profits, share holder values and most of all greed by the corporate leadership (CEO’s & CFO’s), Board of Directors, and major share holders of these corporations.

DOYLE, Switzerland
My goodness, no wonder the Aussies refer to us as “Whinging Poms”. Nowhere is perfect. We’re all here for a reason, so just chill out and enjoy!


On Tomorrow’s Secret Meeting To Plot The End Of High Frequency Trading

The MasterFeeds: On Tomorrow’s Secret Meeting To Plot The End Of Hi…

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Second Leg of Crisis Beginning: Hedge Fund Manager

Published: Tuesday, 31 Aug 2010 | 5:38 AM ET
By: Patrick Allen
CNBC Senior News Editor
September and October hold bad news for stock markets and banks remain overleveraged as we head into the second leg of the financial crisis according to Pedro De Noronha, the managing partner at Noster Capital in London.

“We are seeing one of the most challenging years for investors ever,” De Noronha told CNBC Tuesday. “Major investors are simply leaving the market. When it looks like markets are about to fall off the cliff they rally and vice versa.

“There are problems coming from the resetting of US mortgages and (the) euro area remains a big worry,” he said.
“Germany is unwilling to save any other European country,” De Noronha said. “Merkel used up lots of political capital saving Greece and she saved the Greek bond market in order to save the French and German banking system from more big losses.”
“There are four or five countries that have major structural problems that should not be in the euro,” he said. “I still have (yet) to see a politician who will shoot themselves in the head on austerity.”
“The Greeks have no choice but to cut, the others like Spain are not doing enough, I am with the ‘Austerian’ school and do not buy the Keynesian argument,” he said.
On Monday, Nobel-prize-winning economist Paul Krugman called for another big stimulus program for the US, saying “(e)verything is pointing to the need for more spending.”
Laughable Tests?
De Noronha said he is also very worried about the banking industry and is shorting five of the biggest bank stocks in Europe: UBS, Barclays cnbc_comboQuoteMove(‘popup_barc-ln_ID0EGGAC15839609’);[BARC-LN 308.30 5.90 (+1.95%) ] cnbc_quoteComponent_init_getData(“barc-ln”,”WSODQ_COMPONENT_BARC-LN_ID0EGGAC15839609″,”WSODQ”,”true”,”ID0EGGAC15839609″,”off”,”false”,”inLineQuote”); , Intesa Sanpaolo, Unione de Banche and BBVA.
“The recent stress tests made me laugh,” he said. “We only stress tested what the banks told us, I did not see anyone testing anyone until they had gone broke.”
“When I look at Tier 1 Capital ratios, I find things propping them up that are not assets that can be drawn on in a crisis,” he said. “The real capital 1 ratio of some major banks is just 1.7 percent and I am shorting five major European banks as a result.”
The majority of banks remain over leveraged going into what could be the second leg of the financial crisis, De Noronha added.

“The regulators used 6 percent as the threshold for defining the minimum capital ratios, but that 6 percent number includes non-cash assets such as deferred tax assets and goodwill,” he said. “If you use only tangible book equity the 6 percent of the biggest offenders turns into closer to 2 percent which implies a leverage ratio of 50 times. That is hardly conservative for current the current economic reality.”

On Tuesday, Credit Suisse took a different stance, boosting its rating on banking to “overweight” from “market weight,” saying that economic risks are “overplayed” and that “funding should be less costly than initially feared.”
© 2010 CNBC.com

Global Economy – Second Leg of Crisis Beginning: Hedge Fund Manager – CNBC

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>Oh, poor “Demonized Algos” !!!

Demonised ‘algos’ push the surge in FX trading

By Jennifer Hughes, Senior Markets Correspondent
Published: September 1 2010 00:04 | Last updated: September 1 2010 00:04

Since the infamous stock market “flash crash” of May 6, high-frequency, or algorithmic, trading has been unwillingly dragged into the political and regulatory limelight.
forex-trading-graphicSo far, however, attention has focused on the role of these high-speed traders in the equity market. Outside the glare of that publicity, it is less well known that on May 7, FX trading volumes reached records, straining the plumbing of these markets.
Some participants argue these strains were partially caused by algorithmic, or algo, traders.
Exactly how much of this can be attributed to algo trading is unclear. However, there is no question that high-frequency traders are a fast-increasing force in FX markets, which is sparking a fierce debate as to their value to the market.
On Tuesday, the Bank for International Settlements reported that average daily turnover in the FX market has jumped 20 per cent in the past three years to $4,000bn a day. Its survey was taken in April, so missed the May spike, which related to the eurozone sovereign debt crisis.
The BIS-reported gains were led by a near 50 per cent leap in spot trading – deals for immediate delivery – to $1,500bn a day. This jump was powered by increased activity from “other financial institutions”, a group that includes hedge funds, pension funds, some banks, mutual funds, insurance companies and central banks. This will also include algos.
While all categories of “other” could have increased their trading, it is likely a significant proportion was driven by algo traders, who favour the deep, liquid spot markets and particularly currency pairs such as eurodollar and dollar-yen, which between them account for 42 per cent of all currency trading.
The question for the FX market is whether high-frequency dealers improve the market by adding liquidity, or whether they are instead merely price takers who contribute little.
“Algos have been demonised, but they’re an important part of the growth story,” says David Rutter chief executive of Icap Electronic Broking, which runs EBS, the main FX interbank trading platform. “What we’ve found is that they add pressure at each price point so that instead of getting big price gaps on shocking news, trade is more orderly.
“With FX, there are a lot of other flows such as global trade, so there is good underlying liquidity that the algos can enhance.”
Algos initially appeared in FX markets almost a decade ago, attracted by the deep liquidity and increasing use of electronic trading. They were generally welcomed, particularly by banks looking to build their prime brokerage businesses. However many banks soon grew disenchanted when they found the fast-moving shops were profiting from banks’ own slow systems by exploiting brief, tiny price differences between rival platforms.
Some banks went as far as ejecting offenders from their platforms but banks’ views have since become more nuanced. They have generally reached an accommodation, helped by technological improvements which make it easier to monitor client dealings and offer client-specific prices.
“The facts are that algos have made the markets more efficient and have helped ensure there’s one virtual price,” says Jeff Feig, global head of G10 FX at Citigroup. “They do cause banks to be smarter and we’ve had to work harder to be more efficient, but that’s ultimately to the advantage of the end user.
“I think that to some extent, algos have pushed banks and the result has been enhanced transparency and increased liquidity.”
Algos mean many different things in the FX market. While high-frequency traders are the best known – typified by one senior banker as “five smart guys in a room in New Jersey,” – banks are increasingly adept at developing their own algorithms to make their internal FX deals more efficient. These “internalisation” trades too will have provided a boost to the BIS numbers.
Most players say algos are now a fact of life in currency markets.
Unlike the equity market, which is split into hundreds of stocks, they believe the FX world’s focus on a relatively small number of currency pairs means it would be far harder for a single group of participants to move the market significantly, intentionally or otherwise, as some watchers fear happened during the “flash crash”.
“Also trading can happen anywhere there’s an electronic execution system and a volatile market,” says Alan Bozian a former FX banker and now chief executive of CLS Bank, the FX settlement system. “The question is, which markets adapt well and I don’t think it’s necessarily the stock market.”
FX markets have proved generally good at adapting. Systems such as CLS, introduced years before the financial crisis, have helped minimise settlement risk and since May, participants have been working again to improve their processing systems to cope with increased volume.
Significantly, for a market that is very much built around a hub of big banks, the BIS report showed that, for the first time, interaction of the main banks with “other” financial institutions overtook trading between themselves.
This could be a pointer to the market of the future, where banks are likely to remain the hub, but as much for their trade processing abilities as for their liquidity.
This would allow the winners to build profitable volume without taking on huge trading risks – suiting the current regulatory mood.
“The banks want to continue being the price providers, but they’re getting much more interested in the infrastructure and improving that,” says Mr Bozian. This evolution is likely to apply to high-frequency trading too.
Mr Rutter believes algos are only in their “late teens” in terms of development. “The early algo trading was about super-fast dealing and chasing inefficiencies. That’s largely gone,” he says.
“Now its about math and science being thrown at the market – there’s a rich pool of data and I think we’ll see algos evolve so its not just about milliseconds, but about longer-term predictive math.”

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World Gold Council Report ( WGC)

WGC-  China’s gold investment demand grew by 121% in 2Q- Central Banks buy more gold-

CONCLUSION: the WGC just reported its 2Q report ( see attached). Three key things:

 

1- ONE OF THE KEY NEW TRENDS IS CHINA WHERE RETAIL INVESTMENT DEMAND JUMPED BY 121% ( SEE PAGE 11). We continue to believe that deregulation of the gold market in China could OPEN a major new market for gold.

 

2- ANOTHER INTERESTING TREND IS THAT INDUSTRIAL DEMAND FOR GOLD CONTINUED TO IMPROVE BY 14% MAINLY DRIVEN BY ELECTRONICS UP 25% ( see page 10).

 

3- CENTRAL BANKS WERE NET PURCHASERS OF 7 TONNES OF GOLD DESPITE THE IMF SALE OF 47 TONNES DURING THE QUARTER. RUSSIA WAS AMONG THE LARGEST BUYERS ( 34 TONNES). The philippines also bought more gold.

 

Gold Demand Trends for Q2 2010 out (see Enclosed file), and WGC press release below>

  

 

INVESTMENT DEMAND WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT ROBUST GOLD MARKET DURING 2010

 

Demand for gold will remain robust during 2010 as a result of accelerating demand from India and China, as well as increasing global investment demand driven by continuing uncertainty over public debt and economic recovery, the World Gold Council (“WGC”) said.

According to the WGC’s Gold Demand Trends report for Q2 2010, published today, demand for gold for the rest of 2010 will be underpinned by the following market forces:

* India and China will continue to provide the main thrust of overall growth in demand, particularly for gold jewellery, for the remainder of 2010.

* Retail investment will continue to be a substantial source of gold demand in Europe.

* Over the longer-term, demand for gold in China is expected to grow considerably. A report recently published by The People’s Bank of China and five other organisations to foster the development of the domestic gold market will add impetus to the growth in gold ownership among Chinese consumers.

* Electronics demand is likely to return to higher historic levels after the sector exhibited further signs of recovery, especially in the US and Japan.

 

Marcus Grubb, Managing Director, Investment at the WGC commented:

“Economic uncertainties and the ongoing search for less volatile and more diversified assets such as gold will underpin investment demand for gold in the immediate future. Further, in light of lingering concerns over public debt levels and the euro, European retail investor demand has increased significantly.

“Over the past quarter, demand for gold jewellery in key Asian markets has been challenged by rising local prices. Nevertheless, we are seeing a deceleration in the pace of decline in demand, providing a strong outlook for ongoing recovery in this crucial market segment.”

 

 

GLOBAL DEMAND STATISTICS FOR Q2 2010

* Total gold demand1 in Q2 2010 rose by 36% to 1,050 tonnes, largely reflecting strong gold investment demand compared to the second quarter of 2009. In US$ value terms, demand increased 77% to $40.4 billion.

* Investment demand2 was the strongest performing segment during the second quarter, posting a rise of 118% to 534.4 tonnes compared with 245.4 tonnes in Q2 2009.

* The largest contribution to this rise came from the ETF segment of investment demand, which grew by 414% to 291.3 tonnes, the second highest quarter on * Physical gold bar demand, which largely covers the non-western markets, rose 29% from Q2 2009 to 96.3 tonnes.

 

 





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