CFTC had talks on London gold, silver price-setting -O'Malia

Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:26pm EDT
 
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* Gold, silver discussions are in early stage -commissioner

* CFTC looking into the range of index-setting

* Talks not as serious as Libor investigation

By Tom Polansek

BOCA RATON, Fla., March 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has engaged in "a couple" of conversations about whether the daily setting of gold and silver prices in London is open to manipulation, Commissioner Scott O'Malia said on Thursday.

The agency's look into the situation is "fairly immature in its development," he told reporters at a futures conference in Florida.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported on Wednesday that the CFTC was examining various aspects of price-setting, including whether it is sufficiently transparent.

"What was stated in that story was more than I think we're doing," O'Malia said. "I think we've had a couple conversations. We're looking at energy, indexes, prices, how they're set. We'll look at all of the range of index-setting."

The discussions about gold and silver come after the Libor-rigging scandal that exposed widespread manipulation by British banks, including Barclays Plc, of the interest rate-setting benchmark. The scandal has increased global regulators' scrutiny of other money market benchmarks.

Gold prices are set twice daily by five banks via teleconference, while three banks set silver prices. Those fixings are used to determine spot prices for the billions of dollars of the two precious metals traded each day.

"It's safe to say that we're looking at anything that has an index-setting process, but it's not at the same level as the Libor investigation," O'Malia said.