Silver Prices Jump In GameStop-Like Frenzy
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,656,430 (+0.65%)       Melbourne $994,677 (+0.27%)       Brisbane $978,777 (+0.15%)       Adelaide $878,311 (-0.89%)       Perth $857,374 (-0.27%)       Hobart $742,122 (-0.64%)       Darwin $666,990 (-0.54%)       Canberra $987,062 (-0.84%)       National $1,052,287 (+0.12%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $750,216 (+0.60%)       Melbourne $492,069 (-0.93%)       Brisbane $539,184 (+0.19%)       Adelaide $444,416 (-2.21%)       Perth $457,888 (+0.17%)       Hobart $527,154 (-0.12%)       Darwin $344,216 (+0.22%)       Canberra $504,424 (-0.33%)       National $530,515 (-0.07%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,120 (-121)       Melbourne 15,095 (-40)       Brisbane 7,990 (0)       Adelaide 2,438 (+11)       Perth 6,327 (-40)       Hobart 1,294 (-21)       Darwin 238 (+1)       Canberra 1,020 (+13)       National 44,522 (-197)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,780 (+4)       Melbourne 8,222 (-18)       Brisbane 1,619 (+1)       Adelaide 396 (-4)       Perth 1,599 (+9)       Hobart 213 (+10)       Darwin 400 (-6)       Canberra 1,003 (-24)       National 22,232 (-28)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $820 (+$20)       Melbourne $610 (+$10)       Brisbane $640 (+$3)       Adelaide $610 (+$10)       Perth $670 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $700 ($0)       Canberra $680 (-$10)       National $669 (+$5)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $775 (+$15)       Melbourne $550 ($0)       Brisbane $630 (-$20)       Adelaide $500 (+$5)       Perth $628 (+$8)       Hobart $450 ($0)       Darwin $500 (-$15)       Canberra $570 ($0)       National $591 (+$)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,426 (-22)       Melbourne 5,783 (+92)       Brisbane 4,042 (+149)       Adelaide 1,399 (+12)       Perth 2,345 (+25)       Hobart 383 (-2)       Darwin 94 (-10)       Canberra 595 (-9)       National 20,067 (+235)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,835 (+301)       Melbourne 4,537 (+107)       Brisbane 2,209 (+57)       Adelaide 391 (-8)       Perth 741 (-7)       Hobart 137 (+5)       Darwin 152 (-14)       Canberra 612 (+17)       National 17,614 (+458)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 2.57% (↑)      Melbourne 3.19% (↑)      Brisbane 3.40% (↑)      Adelaide 3.61% (↑)      Perth 4.06% (↑)      Hobart 3.85% (↑)      Darwin 5.46% (↑)        Canberra 3.58% (↓)     National 3.30% (↑)             UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 5.37% (↑)      Melbourne 5.81% (↑)        Brisbane 6.08% (↓)     Adelaide 5.85% (↑)      Perth 7.13% (↑)      Hobart 4.44% (↑)        Darwin 7.55% (↓)     Canberra 5.88% (↑)      National 5.80% (↑)             HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.8% (↑)      Melbourne 0.7% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 0.9% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.0% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.1% (↑)      Brisbane 1.0% (↑)      Adelaide 0.5% (↑)      Perth 0.5% (↑)      Hobart 1.4% (↑)      Darwin 1.7% (↑)      Canberra 1.4% (↑)      National 1.1% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 30.3 (↓)       Melbourne 31.5 (↓)       Brisbane 31.7 (↓)       Adelaide 25.7 (↓)       Perth 35.4 (↓)     Hobart 33.7 (↑)      Darwin 36.2 (↑)        Canberra 32.0 (↓)     National 32.1 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 31.3 (↓)       Melbourne 31.9 (↓)       Brisbane 32.1 (↓)       Adelaide 24.8 (↓)       Perth 38.7 (↓)       Hobart 37.6 (↓)     Darwin 46.5 (↑)        Canberra 39.2 (↓)     National 35.3 (↑)            
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Silver Prices Jump In GameStop-Like Frenzy

Biggest one-day gain in more than a decade is latest sign of speculative trading that is jolting financial markets.

By Joe Wallace
Tue, Feb 2, 2021 3:53amGrey Clock 4 min

Online investors who spurred a trading frenzy in the shares of GameStop Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. have moved onto the global silver market, powering the precious metal to its biggest one-day advance in more than a decade.

Futures prices for silver in New York on Monday settled at their highest level in eight years, the latest work by a loosely knit group of speculators who congregate on social-media platforms including Reddit’s WallStreetBets. Some participants have been contending aggressive buying could power GameStop-like, quadruple-digit percentage gains in other arenas, with some chatter over the weekend focusing on the roughly $50 billion market for silver investments.

The idea of buying silver in unison was mentioned in the popular Reddit forum WallStreetBets last week, then quickly spread to other corners of the internet, even as many Reddit users said they weren’t behind the silver-market advance. Many investors piled into silver bars and coins online, along with silver-linked exchange traded-funds and shares of silver producers.

Many traders with experience in commodities say the trade is highly speculative. There is more than enough silver to meet industrial demand for everything from semiconductors to solar panels, and producers can raise output to take advantage of higher prices. Previous efforts to corner the market have ultimately preceded crashes, most famously when the Hunt brothers are alleged to have artificially boosted silver in 1979 and 1980.

Still, the recent wave of speculation is unlike anything many in commodities have witnessed in the recent past. Shares of miners like First Majestic Silver Corp. and Hecla Mining Co. have been among the stock market’s best performers recently—each rose more than 20% on Monday—while the largest exchange-traded fund tied to silver logged its biggest-ever daily inflow on Friday. Online silver dealers around the country have even reported soaring demand from retail buyers.

“It’s become like the GameStop of commodities,” said Edward Meir, a consultant focused on metals at brokerage ED&F Man Capital Markets. “It doesn’t make any sense…It could be equally ugly on the way down.”

The most actively traded silver futures advanced 9.3% to $29.42 a troy ounce, ending the day at a nearly eight-year high after briefly rising above $30 earlier in the trading session. Prices have risen nearly 15% in the past week, and Monday’s climb marked the metal’s biggest advance since 2009.

Silver’s rally echoed the recent leap in GameStop and AMC, propelled by a phalanx of individual traders gathering online. Highlighting the risks associated with these trades, GameStop shares fell 31% to $225 on Monday. Shares of the struggling videogame retailer are still up some 1,100% in the past month as traders undertake a “short squeeze,” forcing investors who had bet on share-price declines to buy back stock at higher prices to minimize their losses. That trend can add further fuel to rallies.

Professional traders are now weighing whether the flurry of demand from individuals can sustain the climb in silver—a market where trading is still concentrated in a small group of banks.

“They can cause very significant disruption because silver is a market with a history of very, very high volatility,” said Tai Wong, head of metal derivatives trading at BMO Capital Markets. “But can they replicate a GameStop? Unlikely.”

Rostin Behnam, the acting chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates markets for silver futures, said the agency is watching the action closely.

“The commission is communicating with fellow regulators, the exchanges, and stakeholders to address any potential threats to the integrity of the derivatives markets for silver, and remains vigilant in surveilling these markets for fraud and manipulation,” Mr Behnam said in a statement Monday.

Silver’s climb to start the week was even more remarkable to market watchers because gold rose only 0.7% and trading in other commodities was muted. Gold and silver often trade in similar directions and are seen as safe-haven investments during times of market turmoil.

Depositories at CME Group’s Comex—the biggest marketplace for silver futures—are brimming with almost 400 million troy ounces of silver, valued at around $12 billion at Monday’s prices. Vaults in London housed 1.1 billion troy ounces—worth $29 billion—at the end of 2020, according to the London Bullion Market Association.

Monday’s advance followed a weekend rush to buy the physical metal—which is used in electronics, jewellery and photography. Retail silver marketplaces including Money Metals and APMEX Inc. had notices on their websites Sunday saying they were unable to process new orders until markets opened because of unprecedented demand.

On Monday, many popular sites for purchasing silver and gold reported shipping delays or other purchase restrictions.

“Precious metals have never seen such a sudden surge in new interest,” said Adrian Ash, director of research at BullionVault. Over the weekend, openings of new accounts at the online marketplace for gold and silver rose to almost four times the daily average from 2020, itself a record year since BullionVault went live in 2005, he said.

Many traders and analysts are baffled by the moves in silver and said the logic behind a “short squeeze” is also questionable.

In GameStop’s case, hedge funds that had bet against the stock were forced to buy the retailer’s shares when individual investors drove the price higher to avoid bigger losses, propelling the shares even more. But for silver, hedge funds and other speculators actually have a net long position and stand to benefit from rising prices, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show.

“This is just a speculative boom,” said Georgette Boele, senior precious-metals strategist at ABN Amro Bank.

A broad attempt by day traders to corner the market in silver wouldn’t be the first time someone has tried to dominate the precious metals market. Analysts have alleged price manipulation in the silver market going back several decades, including the episode with the Hunt brothers more than four decades ago.

Traders are also watching big inflows into the largest ETF tied to silver, the iShares Silver Trust, and other large funds. These funds and mining stocks are the easiest ways for individuals to bet on higher prices. The fact that silver futures themselves are rising shows that professionals are also trying to profit from the current excitement, traders say.

ETF buying can also add to market momentum because the traders who manage the fund must buy physical silver when investors put more money into the ETF. As a result, large inflows signal that the metal is in high demand.

Still, many professionals warn the silver rally will also end badly.

“It’s devoid of any fundamentals,” Mr Meir said.



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Global economic growth is becoming more broad based, with surveys indicating that business activity in both the U.S. and the eurozone gained momentum in May.

The eurozone economy contracted in the second half of 2023 following a surge in energy and food prices triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the subsequent rise in interest rates intended to tame that inflation.

By contrast, the U.S. economy expanded strongly over the same period, opening up an unusually wide growth gap with the eurozone. That gap narrowed as the eurozone returned to growth in the first three months of the year, while the U.S. slowed.

However, surveys released Thursday point to a fresh acceleration in the U.S., even as growth in the eurozone strengthened. That bodes well for a global economy that relied heavily on the U.S. for its dynamism in 2023.

The S&P Global Flash U.S. Composite PMI —which gauges activity in the manufacturing and services sectors—rose to 54.4 in May from 51.3 in April, marking a 25-month high and the first time since the beginning of the year that the index hasn’t slowed. A level over 50 indicates expansion in private-sector activity.

“The data put the U.S. economy back on course for another solid gross domestic product gain in the second quarter,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Eurozone business activity in turn increased for the third straight month in May, and at the fastest pace in a year, the surveys suggest. The currency area’s joint composite PMI rose to 52.3 from 51.7.

The uptick was led by powerhouse economy Germany, where continued strength in services and improvement in industry drove activity to its highest level in a year. That helped the manufacturing sector in the bloc as a whole grow closer to recovery, reaching a 15-month peak.

By contrast, surveys of purchasing managers pointed to a slowdown in the U.K. economy following a stronger-than-expected start to the year that saw it outpace the U.S. The survey was released a day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a surprise election for early July, banking on signs of an improved economic outlook to turn around a large deficit in the opinion polls.

Similar surveys pointed to a further acceleration in India’s rapidly-expanding economy, and to a rebound in Japan, where the economy contracted in the first three months of the year. In Australia, the surveys pointed to a slight slowdown in growth during May.

Businesses reported that they were raising their prices at the slowest pace since November, which should reassure the European Central Bank. However, the eurozone continued to add jobs in May, suggesting that wages might not cool as rapidly as the ECB had hoped.

The ECB released figures Thursday that showed wages negotiated by labor unions in the eurozone were 4.7% higher in the first quarter than a year earlier, a faster increase than the 4.5% recorded in the final three months of 2023

The ECB has signalled it will lower its key interest rate in early June, while the Fed is waiting for evidence that a slowdown in inflation will resume after setbacks this year.

Nevertheless, eurozone businesses and households shouldn’t bank on successive cuts to borrowing costs, ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said. “There is a huge degree of uncertainty,” he said. “We have made no decisions on the number of interest rate cuts or on their size,” he said in an interview published Thursday. “We will see how economic data evolve.”

Continued resilience in the eurozone economy would likely make the ECB more cautious about lowering borrowing costs after its first move, economist Franziska Palmas at Capital Economics wrote in a note. “If the economy continues to hold up well, cuts further ahead may be slower than we had anticipated,” she said.

– Edward Frankl contributed to this story.

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