Shanghai gold fix aims China towards global pricing power

Yuan-denominated benchmark for the metal is a sign of China’s growing clout in the world

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 April, 2016, 8:40pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 April, 2016, 8:40pm

The yuan-denominated gold benchmark debuted in Shanghai yesterday as China took a step forward in vying to be a global price-setter for the precious metal.

The gold fix is also the latest sign that Beijing will continue to expand the role of its currency to match the country’s increasing economic might.

The gold benchmark launched by the Shanghai Stock Exchange is based on a 1 kilogram-contract and was set at 256.92 yuan yesterday morning.

It is set twice a day based on a few minutes of trading.

Pan Gongsheng, deputy governor of China’s central bank, said at the launch ceremony that the yuan-denominated gold benchmark would promote the internationalisation of the mainland’s gold market as it provides a fair and tradable fix price.

Unlike gold trading on the Shanghai Gold Exchange that provides a trading platform for participants in the bourse, the fix price can be used as a reference for all suppliers and buyers of gold to settle their transactions.

A total 18 members, including China’s biggest commercial banks and foreign institutions such as ANZ and Standard Chartered, join the price-setting process of the yuan-denominated gold fix.

The Shanghai Gold Exchange, under the oversight of China’s central bank, said that the Shanghai benchmark would be used to adequately reflect gold supply and demand in China and represent the price trade of the country’s gold market.

Analysts said the Shanghai gold benchmark was aimed at taking on the global gold price-setting centres of London and New York as the mainland sought to increase its influence on the global gold market.

If the yuan-denominated gold benchmark were to wrest control of pricing in the bullion industry, buyers and sellers would technically seal deals based on the yuan price set in Shanghai.

“It reflects the next stage of the internationalisation of China’s gold market,” said Aram Shishmanian, chief executive of the World Gold Council.

He said the launch of Shanghai benchmark marked a start of the global gold price-setting mechanism that consists of Shanghai, New York and London.

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of gold and Beijing hopes to reduce the country’s reliance on US dollar-based prices of the metal.

The Shanghai benchmark won’t have an immediate impact on global pricing benchmarks in London and New York, but a fully convertible Chinese yuan would eventually help the world’s second-largest economy gain pricing power on the bullion industry.

China has been striving to set global price benchmarks for gold and crude oil with the trading bourses in Shanghai conducting liberalisations to attract foreign participants.

The Shanghai Gold Exchange is racing ahead of other trading houses such as the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Shanghai Futures Exchange in internationalising trading.

In September 2014, the gold exchange officially launched an international trading platform in the city’s free-trade zone that invited foreign participants to the market.

The Shanghai Futures Exchange has yet to launch the long-heralded crude oil futures while the stock exchange has already abandoned a plan to create an international board for foreign companies to list yuan-denominated A shares for mainland investors to trade.