U.S. silver term structure inverts as supply tightens

Section:

By Frank Tang
Reuters
Friday, February 11, 2011

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/11/silver-backwardation-idUSN1133...

NEW YORK -- The tightest physical silver supplies in four years have tipped the U.S. silver futures market into backwardation this week, making near-term prices more expensive than more distant months.

Market watchers said that it has been more than 10 years since silver futures were last in backwardation, an unusual term structure, associated with shortage of physical supply. Warehouse stocks of the white metal have dropped to a four-year low on surging demand, while miners have hedged their future production.

Booming industrial demand for silver and record U.S. coin sales, combined with a surge in demand from mining companies to borrow the metal for their hedge programs have led to a squeeze in the physical silver market.

"The problem is that there is great industrial demand for a specific grade of silver, and there is not enough coming fresh from the mines," said Miguel Perez-Santalla, vice president of Heraeus Precious Metals Management. "The stocks are being pulled for all the high-grade and better materials, and that essentially put a squeeze on the physical market," he said.

... Dispatch continues below ...



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Prophecy Resource Spins Off Platinum/Palladium Venture:
World-Class PGM Deposit in Yukon

Company Press Release, January 18, 2011

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Prophecy Resource Corp. (TSX-V:PCY)and Pacific Coast Nickel Corp. announce that they have agreed that PCNC will acquire Prophecy's Nickel PGM projects by issuing common shares to Prophecy.

PCNC will acquire the Wellgreen PGM Ni-Cu and Lynn Lake nickel projects in the Yukon Territory and Manitoba respectively by issuing up to 550 million common shares of PCNC to Prophecy. PCNC has 55.7 million shares outstanding.

Following the transaction:

-- Prophecy will own approximately 90 percent of PCNC.

-- PCNC will consolidate its share capital on a 10 old for one new basis.

-- Prophecy will change its name to Prophecy Coal Corp. and PCNC will be renamed Prophecy Platinum Corp.

-- Prophecy intends to distribute half of its PCNC shares to shareholders pro-rata in accordance with their holdings.

Based on the closing price of the common shares of PCNC on January 17, $0.195 per share, the gross value of the transaction is $107,250,000.

For the complete announcement, please visit:

http://prophecyresource.com/news_2011_jan18.php



Perez-Santalla said that silver futures have not been in backwardation since billionaire Warren Buffett bought 130 million ounces of silver between 1997 and 1998.

Backwardation is a condition where cash or nearby delivery prices are higher than the price for delivery dates further in the future. Usually, forward prices are higher than cash prices to reflect the costs of storage and insurance for stocks deliverable at a later date.

"The extent of the backwardation in silver is unprecedented. It suggests that retail investment and industrial demand internationally is very robust and the small silver bullion market cannot cater to the level of demand for refined coin and bar product," bullion dealer GoldCore said in a note on Friday.

Warehouse data from COMEX showed that silver stocks fell to a four-year low at 102.5 million ounces (3,188 tonnes) on Feb. 5, about 30 percent below a peak at over 141 million ounces (4,395 tonnes) in June 2007.

"There are regional markets that are quite tight. Certainly, some retailers are saying they are juggling to replenish stock," said Suki Cooper, precious metal analyst at Barclays Capital

Strong silver coin sales have more than offset outflow from the world's largest silver-backed exchange traded fund iShares Silver Trust (SLV), which notched its biggest one-month drop in its silver holdings in January.

"This month, we have seen the retail interest has stayed strong but the exchange-traded product slowdown is not as negative," Cooper said. "If both of them slow down, I think silver could be in trouble,"

Sales of the one-ounce American Eagle silver coins by the U.S. Mint surged to a record at nearly 6.5 million, the highest since the coin's introduction in 1986.

U.S. March futures advanced 15 percent to $30 an ounce in the past two weeks, near a 31-year high at $31.22. Year to date, the contract was 3 percent lower after the price of silver nearly doubled in 2010.

Some precious metals dealers said that backwardation in silver was related to the forward sales program by silver producers.

"When a silver mine company has to put on a hedge, it has to sell forward and borrow a lot of silver from the market, and that put a tremendous amount on the market," said Bruce Dunn, vice president at precious metals dealer Auramet.

Silver six-month lease rates also spiked to their highest level in 18 months on producer buybacks.

Hedging, which allows producers to guarantee prices for future output, tends to push up lease rates and nearby contract prices.

Cooper, however, said that the global silver market should remain in surplus despite the current squeeze. She forecast the world market to end 2011 with an excess of 4,900 tonnes in silver, versus a surplus of 5,300 tonnes in 2010.

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Sona Drills 85.4g Gold/Ton Over 4 Metres at Elizabeth Gold Deposit, Extending the Mineralization of the Southwest Vein on the Property

Company Press Release, October 27, 2010

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Sona Resources Corp. reports on five drillling holes in the third round of assay results from the recently completed drill program at its 100 percent-owned Elizabeth Gold Deposit Property in the Lillooet Mining District of southern British Columbia. Highlights from the diamond drilling include:

-- Hole E10-66 intersected 17.4g gold/ton over 1.54 metres.

-- Hole E10-67 intersected 96.4g gold/ton over 2.5 metres, including one assay interval of 383g of gold/ton over 0.5 metres.

-- Hole E10-69 intersected 85.4g gold/ton over 4.03 metres, including one assay interval of 230g gold/ton over 1 metre.

Four drill holes, E10-66 to E10-69, targeted the southwestern end of the Southwest Vein, and three of the holes have expanded the mineralized zone in that direction. The Southwest Vein gold mineralization has now been intersected over a strike length of 325 metres, with the deepest hole drilled less than 200 metres from surface.

"The assay results from the Southwest Zone quartz vein continue to be extremely positive," says John P. Thompson, Sona's president and CEO. "We are expanding the Southwest Vein, and this high-grade gold mineralization remains wide open down dip and along strike to the southwest."

For the company's full press release, please visit:

http://sonaresources.com/_resources/news/SONA_NR19_2010.pdf