by Peter Schiff, Schiff Gold:
This analysis focuses on gold and silver physical delivery on the Comex. See the article What is the Comex for more detail.
As reported last week, Comex January’s open interest activity was looking strong in silver and modest in gold. The initial results are promising, especially given the probability contracts will open mid-month for immediate delivery.
Silver: Recent Delivery Month
Silver has begun delivery for January which is a minor month. The chart below shows that 1,554 have been delivered so far with 547 contracts remaining in open interest. Given the current trend in contracts opening mid-month for immediate delivery (Figure 3), it is highly probable that January will be the biggest month since June.
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Figure: 1 Recent like-month delivery volume
One positive trend is that the minor months are not seeing much drop-off in open interest coming into the close. That being said, January saw a slightly larger decline than the past few minor months, with 122 dropping in the final day. This compares to 32 and 24 in October and November. For comparison, December saw more than 4,000 contracts close or roll in the final day (difference between blue and green bar).
Figure: 2 24-month delivery and first notice
The red bars in the chart above represent contracts opened mid-month for immediate delivery. It can be hard to see, so the data is highlighted in the chart below. December saw cash settlements for the first time since July, both of which were major months in silver. If the current trend in minor months holds, at least a couple hundred contracts will open mid-month for immediate delivery.
Figure: 3 24-month delivery and first notice
Isolating the month of January over the past several years shows how this January stacks up to previous ones (dollar amounts shown). Given the number of contracts still open, this January will most likely be a record with well over $200M in silver delivered.
Figure: 4 Notional Deliveries
Silver: Next Delivery Month
February silver is another minor delivery month. Currently, open interest is actually trending very low relative to the last few minor months. It will be interesting to see if this picks up now that January has come off the board. Last February also had a slow start, but then caught a bid late in the contract which was the first month to really start the trend of accelerating into First Notice. Will history repeat?
Figure: 5 Open Interest Countdown
Gold: Recent Delivery Month
The charts below follow the same order as the silver charts above.
January gold has started very weak with only 1,045 contracts delivered and only 100 remaining open.
Figure: 6 Recent like-month delivery volume
On the final day, contracts increased by a modest amount: 7. Perhaps this is due to the recent uptick in gold prices into year-end.
Figure: 7 24-month delivery and first notice
If the price momentum continues, it’s very likely the mid-month contracts will open. The last two minor months as well as October saw more than 2,000 contracts open for immediate delivery. If similar activity is seen this month, it could potentially push January into one of the biggest minor months over the last year.
Figure: 8 24-month delivery and first notice
Looking at January for the last 10 years shows that this January is still below the last two. With contracts opening mid-month, it is very likely that this January could also be an all-time high similar to silver.