Thursday, June 29, 2006

Commodities Market News

Goldman May Buy Stake in India's Commodity Exchange

June 29 (Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the world's biggest securities firm, plans to buy a stake in India's National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Ltd. to gain from a surge in trading in Asia's second-fastest growing major economy.

Goldman will buy the stake from ICICI Bank Ltd., India's second-largest lender, two people familiar with the matter said, asking not be identified before an official announcement. Edward Naylor, a Goldman spokesman in Hong Kong, and Vishakha Mulye, chief financial officer of ICICI Bank, declined to comment.

Trading on India's commodity exchanges totaled $460 billion in the year ended March 31, a fourfold jump from the year before, as economic growth boosted disposable incomes and fueled investments in commodities. That spurred Fidelity International Ltd., a unit of the world's biggest money manager, in February to pay $49 million for 9 percent of the Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd., the world's third-biggest bullion bourse.

``It's a good move as commodity exchanges in India are just taking off and are in a growth phase,'' said Sanjay Dongre, a fund manager at UTI Mutual Fund, which oversees about $6.6 billion in investments. ``One could expect turnover at commodity exchanges to rise and an investor could reap benefit.''

Goldman may buy 10 percent of the National Commodity Exchange, India's Economic Times and Financial Express newspapers reported today, citing unidentified people. The investment may be Goldman's biggest in India since the company ended a 10-year venture with Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd., an Indian lender, in March.

Goldman would invest in private equity, fund-to-fund and real estate businesses in India, Brooks Entwistle, head of the company's Indian operations, said in March.

India, the world's biggest consumer of gold and second- biggest producer of sugar and rice, trades futures contracts in more than 80 commodities in 500 locations.

Local traders and producing and consuming companies are the main participants on the bourses. S. Sundareshan, chairman of the Forward Markets Commission, said last month the regulator may permit overseas investors to trade in oil and bullion futures before expanding the list to include some farm products.

Buying a stake in the exchange will allow Goldman to ``capture the volume growth in the commodity derivatives business,'' Vineet Bhatnagar, managing director at Man Financial Commodities India Ltd., a Mumbai-based brokerage, said by telephone from Singapore.

Volume on the National Commodity Exchange, which trades futures contracts in 48 commodities, reached $226 billion in the year ended March 31, according to the Forward Markets Commission. That's more than the $184 billion of shares traded on the Mumbai stock exchange, Asia's oldest, in the same period. -source

Nymex looking to start gold futures trade in China

BEIJING (XFN-ASIA) - The New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) is hoping to begin the trading of gold futures contracts in China, the Wall Street Journal said, citing a senior exchange official

John Hanemann, vice chairman of the governors committee of Nymex's Comex Division, was quoted by the newspaper as saying the exchange has been in talks about launching its gold futures contracts with Chinese exchanges

China, meanwhile, has been looking to further develop its local derivatives markets, the report said

"We have been seeking opportunities to cooperate with Shanghai Gold Exchange to launch gold futures, perhaps as a joint product," Hanemann said

The plan, if it goes through, will not only see the first gold futures contracts being traded in China, but would also be the first joint derivatives product between a Chinese bourse and an overseas exchange, the newspaper reported

Currently, the trading of gold bullion, gold bars and platinum on the Shanghai Gold Exchange is limited to spot transactions. Chinese investors are not allowed to trade futures on overseas exchanges, the newspaper said

This also applies to state-controlled institutions, except those that have special licenses from the government. China's futures markets are also off-limits to foreign investors, the report said

Hanemann did not provide a timeframe for the launch of such a product, which is still being deliberated by the China Securities Regulatory Commission. The regulators are likely concerned about the risks of derivatives trading, the newspaper said

China is the world's fourth-largest gold producer and consumer

Last week, the China's central bank suggested the country can convert part of its foreign exchange reserves to gold holdings to head off risks from the depreciation of the US dollar, state media reported

Converting part of foreign exchange reserves to gold can protect and increase the reserve assets, the official Shanghai Securities News reported - source

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