75% of the world’s gold trading occurs over-the-counter in London amongst LBMA’s clients: central banks, mining companies and private banks. The gold fixing, done twice a day, is used as a basis for transactions between these institutional economic agents. Settlements, which are gold transfers or cash equivalents, are mainly done in cash, because the amount of available gold in the LBMA members’ vaults is very small in comparison to the amount of transactions. The GOFO, used as a basis for GOLD/USD swaps, is fixed once a day.
The LBMA currently has 89 full members and 146 in total, including associates. They are companies or institutions dealing with the different aspects of precious metals, such as trading, selling, storage, mining extraction, auditing and economic research.
12 of the members are Market Makers, who participate in the price fixing by communicating their buy/sell prices on three products: spot price, futures and options.
The spot price corresponds to the physical market price for immediate gold delivery. Delivery in London is made within two working days.
Futures: Futures are transactions between two parties accepting to buy or sell gold at a fixed date in the future, generally for one month, three months, six months, or even one year or longer.
Options offer those who hold them the possibility, without the obligation, to buy or sell gold at a determined price at a fixed date in the future. For this right, they pay a compensation fee. The right to buy is called a “Call option” and the right to sell, a “Put option”.