How The Metal Market
Prices Are Set
Precious Metal Market Prices Are Set Daily
The London Gold Fix or Gold Fix is the procedure by which the price of gold is set on the London market by the five members of the London Gold Pool. It is designed to fix a price for settling contracts between members of the London bullion market, but informally the Gold Fix provides a recognized rate that is used as a benchmark for pricing the majority of gold products and derivatives throughout the world’s markets. The Gold Fixing is conducted twice a day by telephone, at 10:30 GMT and 15:00 GMT.
The first fixing took place on 12 September 1919 amongst the five principal gold bullion traders and refiners of the day: N M Rothschild & Sons, Mocatta & Goldsmid, Pixley & Abell, Samuel Montagu & Co. and Sharps Wilkins. The gold price then was four pounds 18 shillings and ninepence (GBP 4.9375) per troy ounce. Gold prices are fixed in United States dollars (USD), Pound sterling (GBP) and European Euros (EUR).
On 21 January 1980 the Gold Fixing reached the price of $850, a figure not overtaken until 3 January 2008 when a new record of $865.35 per troy ounce was set in the a.m. Fixing.  However, when indexed for inflation, the 1980 high would equate to a price of $2398.21 in 2007 dollars, thus the 1980 record still holds in real terms.
The Fixing historically took place twice daily at the City offices of N M Rothschild & Sons in St Swithin’s Lane, but since 5 May 2004 it takes place by telephone. In April 2004 N M Rothschild & Sons announced that it planned to withdraw from gold trading and from the London Gold Fixing. Barclays Bank took its place from 7 June 2004, and the chairmanship of the meeting, formerly held permanently by Rothschilds, now rotates annually.
A tradition of the London Gold Fixing was that participants could raise a small Union Flag on their desk to pause proceedings. Under the telephone fixing system, participants can register a pause by saying the word “flag”, and the chair ends the meeting with the phrase “There are no flags, and we’re fixed”. “As part of this change, it is intended that a web-based commentary of the Fixing will be introduced later this year”, the Fixing said in a statement.
The current 5 participants in the Fixing, who must be members of the London Bullion Market Association, are:
Scotia-Mocatta — successor to Mocatta & Goldsmid and part of Bank of Nova Scotia
Barclays Capital — Replaced N M Rothschild & Sons when they abdicated
Deutsche Bank — Owner of Sharps Pixley, itself the merger of Sharps Wilkins with Pixley & Abell
HSBC — Owner of Samuel Montagu & Co.
Société Générale — Replaced Johnson Matthey and CSFB as fifth seat
How the Prices of Platinum and Palladium are Set
The Johnson Matthey Base Prices are the company’s quoted selling prices for wholesale quantities of platinum group metals set by their trading desks in the USA, Hong Kong and London, based on market offer prices. The price is for metal in sponge form, with minimum purities of 99.95% for platinum and palladium, and 99.9% for rhodium, iridium and ruthenium, and is normally available to customers for several hours after it is set – an advantage not offered by any other price setting or fixing.
How the Price of Silver is Set
Handy & Harman has operated as dealers in silver and gold bullion (bars) and coins since its founding in 1876. On the basis of their experience in precious metals, Handy & Harman began, in 1892, to issue a daily silver price as a service for American silver producers. This price, based initially on conversion of the London price to American terms, rapidly became the basis for virtually all silver transactions throughout North America.
Handy & Harman’s daily silver price quotation has long since become independent of London. Today it represents simply the lowest price at which, on any given day, Handy & Harman can buy silver for its own needs and this price is accepted as a guide for silver transactions worldwide.
Information obtained from Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_Fix),
Johnson Matthey (www.platinum.matthey.com/info/1046776915.html
Kitco (18.104.22.168/glossary/london_fix.html), and
The Handy & Harman Story (www.handyharmancanada.com/hbpm/hhstory.htm)