Gold Is Shaken by a Mysterious 2 Million-Ounce Trade

So much for a quiet Friday in late August.

After weeks of relative slumber, gold traders were rudely awoken to a surge in volume and volatility. In a span of one minute, 21,256 gold futures contracts, equal to more than 2 million ounces, traded just before Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen addressed a gathering of policy makers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The episode jolted the market after a measure of 60-day volatility on the metal touched the lowest since 2005. Gold had been in quiet mode even amid political discord in Washington, concerns about rising U.S. interest rates and tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Yellen’s speech, which lacked clear rate cues, did little to calm the price swings and damped expectations of a rate hike this year.

The market is “bipolar,” Bob Haberkorn, a senior market strategist at RJO Futures, said by phone. “Between now and the end of the year, the story is going to be the Fed. The Fed was pretty hawkish coming into the year. Now it feels like they are backing away from September.”

Gold futures for December delivery rose 0.4 percent to $1,297.20 an ounce at 12:38 p.m. on the Comex in New York, after falling as much as 0.8 percent and climbing 0.7 percent to briefly pierce the $1,300 threshold.


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