What is the London Gold Fix

The London Gold Fix was a method to fix the price of gold per troy ounce in US dollars. It was replaced in 2015 by The London Bullion Market Association, or LBMA, Gold Price. The price continues to be set twice daily at 10:30 and 15:00 London GMT in US dollars.

Understanding the London Gold Fix

The main role of the London Gold Fix was to fix the price of gold by the five biggest bullion bankers, traders and refiners in the precious metal in the early 1900s. They were known as the London Gold Market Fixing Ltd., and consisted of N.M. Rothschild, Mocatta & Goldsmid, Pixley & Abell, Samuel Montagu & Co. and Sharps Wilkins, when the practice started in 1919. The banks took into consideration orders from their clients and their own profits while suggesting a price for gold. They were essentially market-makers for gold.

The process generally began with the Chairman proposing a price that was close to the spot market price for gold. Subsequently, each participating entity disclosed their limit orders - buy and sell - and estimates the amount of gold that they can buy or sell at the current position.

Key Takeaways

  • The London Gold Fix was a method to fix the price of gold by the five biggest bullion traders and bankers in the precious metal.
  • They took into account limit orders - buy and sell - at their respective institutions.
  • It was replaced the London Bullion Market Association Gold Price in 2015.
  • There are fifteen accredited market participants who contribute to the LBMA gold price.

Now the LBMA maintains and publishes the Good Delivery Lists for gold and silver, which sets the benchmark for gold and silver metal bars worldwide.

LBMA was established in 1987 by the Bank of England, which at that time was the bullion market's regulator. The LBMA sets and monitors refining standards, creates trading documentation and fosters the development of good trading practices. ICE Benchmark Administration, or IBA, provides the auction platform, methodology as well as overall independent administration and governance for the LBMA Gold Price, with the LBMA holding the intellectual property rights.

LBMA comprises and represents key market participants and their clients in the London Bullion Market. Its members include refiners, fabricators, traders, storage and security carriers. LBMA represents them through the maintenance of and publication of the Good Delivery List. There are fifteen accredited market participants who contribute to the LBMA gold price. The list of participants comprises a diverse set, including national banks and trading firms.

Bullion trading

World trade in bullion is based in London with a global membership and client base. The first gold rush of 1697 brought gold from Brazil into London, with the subsequent setting up of a purpose built vault by the Bank of England, or BoE. Further gold rushes followed in California, Australia and South Africa, which added to the stocks of gold in London.

Refineries were set up to process this gold and were typically located close to the BoE. In 1750 the BoE set up the London Good Delivery List for gold, which formally recognized those refineries that produced gold bars to the required standard. LBMA took over the roles previously carried out by the London Gold Market and Silver Market, whose origins date back to the mid-nineteenth century. Today, the LBMA owns and manages the Good Delivery Lists for gold and silver.

Trading in spot, forwards and wholesale deposits in the bullion market is underpinned by the Global Precious Metals Code. The Global Precious Metals Code, launched in 2017, sets standards and practices expected from market participants in the global Over the Counter (OTC) wholesale precious metals market. The code is intended to define a robust, fair, effective and transparent market where all participants are able to transact following best practice guidelines. It sets principles to promote the integrity and effective functioning of the global market covering ethics, governance, compliance and risk management, information sharing and business conduct.