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Chinese Bank Acquires Huge London Vault

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China’s largest bank is buying the lease on a huge gold vault in London, another sign of gold’s continuing shift from West to East.

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As the Telegraph put it, acquisition of the 1,500 ton vault will enlarge ICBC Standard Bank’s footprint in the city’s bullion market:

The Chinese and South African lender is aiming to fill the gap left by Western banks, which are retreating from commodities to cut costs and reduce regulatory burden.”

The Chinese bank has also applied to become a clearing member of the London gold and silver over-the-counter business. The Telegraph reports member banks will make a decision within the next few months:

Currently, five banks – JP Morgan, HSBC, Bank of Nova Scotia, Barclays and UBS – settle daily bullion transactions between dealers, amounting to more than $5 trillion-worth of metal each year in the London over-the-counter market.”

These recent developments are another sign that gold is shifting East, and that Asia is becoming increasingly influential in precious metal markets.

Last summer, the Bank of China joined the twice-daily gold price fixing process run by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). With the bank’s inclusion, the Chinese now have a small role in directly setting the price of gold in Western markets. Around the same time, China announced the formation of its largest gold-investment fund ever: the “Silk Road Gold Fund.”

Just a few months later, China Construction Bank joined the London Bullion Market Associations (LBMA) silver price-setting process.

Last year, investors withdrew a record amount of gold from the Shanghai Gold Exchange, signaling a steady increase in demand in the world’s largest gold consuming country.

In November, Degussa Golchandel, the largest precious metals bullion dealer in Europe, opened it first Asian retail bullion store in Singapore to cash in on the increasing Asian demand.

In the background, China continues to add to its gold reserves. The country added more than 100 tons of gold to its stash during the last six months of 2015. The country’s official gold reserves stood at 56.66 million ounces at the end of December.

This is all indicative of the movement of gold from West to East. More and more, Asia is becoming a focal-point for precious metals. China and India rank first and second respectively in the world in gold consumption. Asians clearly understand the value of gold and silver, and they are clamoring to get their hands on more of it.

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