What Is the London Gold Fix?
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What Is the London Gold Fix?

4 Min.

The London Gold Fix was a historic method to establish the price of gold per troy ounce in US dollars. Replaced by the LBMA Gold Price in 2015, it was conducted twice daily at 10:30 and 15:00 London GMT. This article delves into the origins, workings, and significance of the London Gold Fix, as well as the broader context of bullion trading.

Basics

The London Gold Fix was a significant mechanism used to determine the price of gold per troy ounce in US dollars. Instituted in the early 1900s, this method was later succeeded by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) Gold Price in 2015. The price was fixed twice daily at 10:30 and 15:00 London GMT in US dollars.

Market-Makers and Price Determination

The London Gold Fix was orchestrated by five prominent entities within the precious metal industry, known as the London Gold Market Fixing Ltd., which was established in 1919. The members of this consortium included N.M. Rothschild, Mocatta & Goldsmid, Pixley & Abell, Samuel Montagu & Co., and Sharps Wilkins. Their primary function was to act as market-makers for gold by suggesting a price based on client orders and their own profit motives.

The process typically commenced with the chair proposing a price close to the prevailing spot market rate for gold. Subsequently, each participating entity would reveal their limit orders, indicating their intent to buy or sell, along with estimates of the quantity of gold they could transact at the current market position.

Currently, the LBMA assumes the responsibility for maintaining and publishing the Good Delivery Lists for both gold and silver, which serve as the global benchmarks for these precious metals.

LBMA: A Key Player

Established in 1987 by the Bank of England, the LBMA operated as the regulator for the bullion market at the time. It plays a pivotal role in setting and supervising refining standards, creating trading documentation, and promoting the adoption of sound trading practices. The ICE Benchmark Administration (IBA) provides the auction platform, methodology, and independent administration and governance for the LBMA Gold Price, with the LBMA holding the intellectual property rights.

The LBMA represents and comprises essential market participants and their clients in the London Bullion Market. Its membership encompasses refiners, fabricators, traders, and storage and security carriers. Fifteen accredited market participants contribute to the LBMA gold price, with a diverse list that includes national banks and trading firms.

Bullion Trading

London has emerged as the epicenter of worldwide bullion trade, boasting a global membership and client base. The initial gold rush in 1697 saw gold from Brazil being channeled into London, leading to the establishment of a dedicated vault by the Bank of England (BoE). Subsequent gold rushes in California, Australia, and South Africa augmented London's gold reserves.

Refineries were strategically situated in proximity to the BoE to process this influx of gold. In 1750, the BoE introduced the London Good Delivery List for gold, formalizing the recognition of refineries that met the required standards for gold bar production. The LBMA subsequently took over the responsibilities previously managed by the London Gold Market and Silver Market, both of which have their origins in the mid-nineteenth century. Today, the LBMA owns and administers the Good Delivery Lists for gold and silver.

Global Precious Metals Code

The bullion market's spot, forwards, and wholesale deposits are underpinned by the Global Precious Metals Code, which was launched in 2017. This code sets the standards and practices expected from market participants in the global Over the Counter (OTC) wholesale precious metals market. Its purpose is to define a robust, fair, effective, and transparent market where all participants adhere to best practice guidelines. The code establishes principles aimed at fostering integrity and the efficient operation of the global market, encompassing ethics, governance, compliance, risk management, information sharing, and business conduct.

Conclusion

The London Gold Fix, a historic method for setting gold prices, holds a significant place in the bullion trading landscape. It evolved into the LBMA Gold Price, which continues to influence global markets. London, with its rich history in bullion trading, remains the hub of this global industry. The Global Precious Metals Code ensures the integrity and fairness of transactions, further cementing London's status as a trusted center for bullion trade. Understanding these facets is crucial for anyone involved in or interested in the world of precious metals and bullion trading.

London Bullion Market Association (LBMA)
Gold
Intercontinental Exchange (ICE)
Over-The-Counter (OTC)
London Gold Fix
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