Future of historic silver price benchmark in doubt

image copyrightReuters
image captionThe silver spot benchmark has a distinguished history

The future of a 117-year-old global benchmark determining the price of spot silver is in doubt after its administrator said it would cease operations.

The London Silver Market Fixing said it would stop operating the process from 14 August.

However, it said a rival firm was interested in taking it over.

It comes after Deutsche Bank, which with HSBC and Bank of Nova Scotia sets the price, said it was quitting.

Deutsche Bank said in April it would leave the process, but said on Wednesday it had postponed its departure until 14 August.

Current administrator the London Silver Market Fixing said the London Bullion Market Association had "expressed its willingness" to determine with market participants whether they were interested in developing an alternative.

Currently, representatives from Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Bank of Nova Scotia speak via telephone each day at midday to work out a spot price for silver, based on transactions between their clients.

The spot price is then used by miners, financial firms and jewellers to trade silver and value their stocks.

The announcement comes amid scrutiny of commodity benchmarks by regulators.

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission conducted a five-year investigation into allegations that some of the world's biggest banks had distorted future silver prices.

However, it dropped the inquiry last September, saying it had found no evidence of wrongdoing.

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