China and Singapore Vie for Alternative to London Gold Fix
China and Singapore vie for alternative to London Gold Fix.Reuters

China and Singapore are competing to provide viable gold pricing benchmarks in Asia, the leading consumer of the precious metal.

The moves, to establish localised pricing of the yellow metal, come ahead of a World Gold Council (WGC) meeting that hopes to "explore reform of the London Gold Fix", an age-old pricing of gold twice daily that has drawn regulatory scrutiny for its alleged lack of transparency.

China, on 25 June said at an industry conference that it wants to increase its influence on the global gold market and that it hopes to have its own price "fix".

Singapore said at the same conference it will roll out a physical gold contract on an exchange, to set up a transparent form of pricing.

The city-state's gold contract, expected to go live in September, will be the first wholesale 25 kilobar contract to be offered the world over. It will provide a series of six daily contracts, according to a statement by the WGC, the Singapore Exchange, the Singapore Bullion Market Association and IE Singapore.

The moves reflect growing pressure from Asia, home to leading gold consumers China and India, to have pricing references that mirror regional dynamics; there is a growing dissatisfaction with prices fixed in the West.

"Why should a country that is importing gold use a benchmark in London or the United States? Why can't they have their own benchmark?" Jeremy East, global head of metals trading at Standard Chartered, said at the conference in Singapore, Reuters reported.

"We should have gold fixing, pricing done in China itself," Xu Luode, chairman of the state-backed Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE), told the industry conference, which was organised by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA).

The London fix, the global benchmark for spot gold prices determined by four banks over telephone conferences, is being investigated by regulators in Europe and the US to ascertain whether it may have been manipulated.

China and India account for more than 50% of the world's gold consumption. However, Asia still relies on the London fix for reference -- the fix is set twice daily, at 10:30 hrs and 15:00 hrs London time, both after Asian markets close.

Prices are adjusted up and down until demand and supply are matched, at which point the gold price is declared to be fixed.