Module 8 Currency, Commodity, and Government Securities

Chapter 9

Silver

68

m8-c9-cartoon

9.1 – The Bullion Twins

To begin with, I need to apologise for the delay in putting up this chapter. Perhaps this is the longest ‘in between chapter’ break I’ve taken from the time I have started writing for Varsity. I’ve been working on another high priority project which required my time and attention, hence the delay.

Anyway, let us get straight to work and discuss Silver. Precious metals such as Gold, Silver, and Platinum are collectively referred to as ‘Bullion’. There is a common perception that the market price of gold and silver makes similar moves. If this is true, then it gives raise to many trading opportunities such a ‘pair trading’. We will discuss pair trading in detail, perhaps in a different module altogether. However, let us go ahead and investigate if Gold and Silver move in tandem. I did run a correlation check on Gold and Silver using 30 minutes intraday data for the last 3 months (note this is over a 1000 data points) and here are the results –

image-1_correl

The correlation on an intraday basis is 0.7, which is quite remarkable. I’m guessing the correlation on end of day basis would be even better. So what does this mean? Well, the correlation suggests that the two metals make similar moves on an intraday basis. If you recall, we discussed the concept of correlation in detail in the USD INR chapter. I’d suggest you read up section 5.3 of chapter 5 if you haven’t already done so.

If the intraday correlation is as tight as 0.7, then we can think about exploring trading ideas of going long on gold and short on silver or vice versa. This will be a kind of hedged strategy as you are long and short (on similar assets) at the same time. The idea here is just to let you know that building such a trading strategy is a possibility, please don’t jump in and set up a trade just with this information. J

There are lots of other things to take care of when you initiate such trades; more on pair trading at a later point. Meanwhile, have a look at the intraday graph of both gold and silver; I’ve normalized it to start at 100 so that the graphs are more comparable –

image-2_intraday-graph

If you were to just look at the graph and take a call on how closely the two metals move, then chances are you would disregarded any sort of correlation between them J, but the actual numbers paints a completely different picture!

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve used intraday data here to develop both the correlation and the graph. Longer term data will portray more meaningful information. In fact, I dug up the correlation data between silver and gold from a recent survey by Thomson Reuters, and here is what they suggest –

image-3_correl2

The correlations are broken down on a quarterly basis (clearly a longer term approach here) and as you can see the correlation between Gold and Silver is on average is about 0.8, which is why traders prefer to call this pair the ‘Bullion Twins’.

The tight EOD correlation implies that traders and investors consider both gold and silver as safe havens in times of economic crisis. This further implies that any global geo political tensions tend to drive the price of not just gold, but silver as well.

Also, please do note the correlation of Silver with Oil, it is quite erratic and gives a sense on unreliability here.

9.2 – The Silver Basics

Silver has applications in industrial fabrication, photography, fashion, electrical, and electronics industries. Hence, there is always a demand for silver. In fact the recent survey from ‘‘The Silver Institute’ in the United States suggests that the global silver demand stands at 1170.5 million ounces. Historically, the demand for silver has grown at roughly 2.5% year on year. Out of the total global demand, bulk of it comes from industrial fabrication and manufacturing. This directly suggests that the price of silver is kind of influenced by growth of manufacturing and industrial economies such as China and, to some extent, India.

On the supply side, global mining production along with scarp and sovereign sales stands at 1040.6 million ounces, clearly indicating that silver as a commodity is under slight deficit. The supply has not really improved over the years; in fact the data suggests that the growth in supply has just been about 1.4%.

Here is the table which gives you the complete demand supply scenario in silver –

image-4_supply-demand

You can read the complete survey report.

Given how the supply and demand scenario plays out, there is a lot of scope to trade silver as a commodity. This leads us back to the most important question – who decides the rate of silver? Well, silver rates are fixed the same way as that of gold, in London, by a pool of participating banks. To know how gold/silver rates are fixed, I’d recommend you read this.

9.3 – The Silver contracts

There are four variants of silver contracts that are available for you to trade on MCX. They differ mainly in terms of contract value, and therefore the margin required. These contracts are as follows –

Contracts Price Quote Lot Size Tick Size P&L/tick Expiry Delivery Units
Silver 1 kilogram 30 kgs Rs.1/tick Rs.30/tick 5th day of expiry month 30 kgs
Silver Mini 1 kilogram 5 kgs Rs.1/tick Rs.5/tick Last day of expiry month 30 kgs
Silver Micro 1 kilogram 1 kg Rs.1/tick Rs.1/tick Last day of expiry month 30 kgs
Silver 1000 1 kilogram 1 kg Rs.1/tick Rs.1/tick Last day of expiry month 1 kg

Of all the four contracts, the ‘Silver’ 30 kg contract and ‘Silver Mini’ are most actively traded on MCX, we shall  discuss both these contracts detail. Let us begin with the main Silver contract.

The price quotation for the Silver contract is 1 kilogram. This means when you check the price of Silver on MCX or on your trading terminal, the price that you see is for 1 kg of silver. This price includes the import duties, taxes, and all the other applicable duties. Have a look at the screenshot below (taken from Kite) –

image-5_silverbig

The current price of Silver December Future is Rs.42,266/-, note this is quoted on a per kg basis. Since the contract is for 30 kgs (lot size), the contract value will be –

= 30 * 42,266

= Rs.12,67,980/-

The margins on Silver is roughly 5%, in fact here is the snapshot of the margin required to trade this contracts –

image-6_silver-margin

This works out to –

= 68619/1267980

= 5.41%

The P&L per tick can be calculated using the following formula –

P&L per tick = (Lot Size / Quotation) * Tick Size

= (30 kgs /1 kg) * Rs.1/-

= Rs. 30/-

So for every tick on Silver, you either make Rs.30/- or lose Rs.30/-.

As far as the contracts expiries are concerned, here are the set of contracts that are available to trade as of now (as of Oct 2016), note all contracts expire on the 5th of the contract month –

  • December 2016
  • March 2017
  • May 2017
  • July 2017
  • September 2017

When the December 2016 contract expires, the December 2017 contract gets introduced to the market. You must be aware by now that the most liquid contract to trade would be the one which has the closest expiry date. For example, we are now in Oct 2016 and if I were to trade Silver, I’d choose the December 2016 contract.

Do recall, settlement in equities is always in cash and not physical. However, when it comes to commodities, the settlement is physical and therefore ‘delivery’ is compulsorily. This means if you hold 10 lots of Silver and you opt for delivery then you will get delivery on 300 kg of Silver. In order to get the delivery of the commodity, one has to express his intention to do so. This has to be done any time before 4 days to expiry. So given that the expiry is on 5th, one has to express his intent to take delivery anytime on or before the 4th (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th).

If you are trading with Zerodha, note that we do not allow you to get into the physical delivery of commodities. So you will be forced to close the position before 1st of the expiry month. In fact, I personally prefer to close the positions early on and not really get into the physical delivery of commodities just because of the logistics involved.

Another important point to note here – while the delivery is mandatory for Silver (30 kgs) contract, delivery is not mandatory for the Silver Mini and Silver Micro contracts. This means to say that you can let the Silver Mini/Micro contract expire and settle for cash (or opt for delivery). However, you do not have the option to cash settle the Silver 30 kg contract.

Finally here is something else you should know. Have a look at this snapshot below –

image-7_spot-convergence

The table above maps a commodity with a location, for example Silver Micro is mapped to Ahmedabad. Ever wondered what this really means?

We all know that upon expiry, the price of the underlying in the spot market and its futures price converge to a single price point. Now in case of equities, the underlying and its futures are traded on the same platform i.e. NSE (and now BSE as well). So for example Infosys Spot in NSE will converge with Infosys Futures on NSE. However, in case of commodities there are many different spot markets. For example, Pepper and Rubber are prominently traded in Kochi. Gold is traded in both Mumbai and Ahmedabad and so on. Given this, upon expiry, the futures of Gold should merge with which spot price? Should it be the one in Mumbai or the one in Ahmedabad? For this exact reason, MCX has mapped each commodity with a spot market, and upon expiry the futures price will converge with the price of the designated spot market.

9.4 – The other Silver contracts

If you are comfortable with the contract details of Silver mentioned above, then it is fairly easy to understand the other silver contracts that are traded on MCX. They vary mainly in terms of the lot size and therefore the margin requirement.

I’ll skip working out the math, but instead put up the margin numbers and the delivery option directly for you. The delivery option helps you decided whether you would like to take delivery of the contract or simply cash settle.

Contract Margin Required Margin as a % Delivery options
Silver Mini Rs.13,158/- 6.27% Cash/Physical
Silver Micro Rs.2,618/- 5.1% Cash/Physical
Silver 1000 Rs.2,711/- 6.2% Physical only

As you can see, the margins required are much lesser (quite naturally) compared to the big silver contract.

As far as trading is concerned, similar to Gold, the Silver Fundamentals are quite complex – tracking them on a day to day basis may not really be possible and in fact is not really required. Most traders I know trade commodities based on technical analysis. I personally think this a much better way to go about active commodity trading.

Apart from technical analysis, one can even choose to trade based on quantitative techniques such as ‘Pair Trading’. As stated earlier in this chapter, we’ll discuss this technique in a separate module altogether.


Key takeaways from this chapter

  1. Gold and Silver are correlated both on an intraday basis and on an end of day basis.
  2. Gold and Silver make a good pair for trading based on the ‘Pair trading technique’.
  3. Silver does not have a great correlation with crude oil.
  4. There are 4 variants of silver traded on MCX.
  5. The main Silver contract has a lot size of 30 kgs and requires a margin close to Rs.75,000/-.
  6. The average margin requirement for silver is roughly between 5-6% of the contract value.
  7. Technical analysis works quite well on Silver.

68 comments

  1. Naresh says:

    Hi Nithin, Just like in EQ in NSE, one can download a historic excel file showing underlying price, futures price, OI etc. for EQ or INDEX.. On the same lines is there a link available which allows us to do the same thing for silver or gold etc. in order to see historic spot and futures prices in excel together with OI etc. Thanks in advance

  2. KALP PATEL says:

    can u throw some light on what affects other metal prices like aluminium, nickel, copper etc.

  3. Khyati verdhan says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for this chapter.
    Since gold and silver move in same direction.
    Can I buy gold if a buy signal emerge in silver and same as can I buy silver if a buy signal emerge in gold
    Sir will it Good to do??

  4. Dhanalakshmi says:

    Is kite enough for Silver Intraday?

    • Karthik Rangappa says:

      Yes, absolutely!

      • Shivajee says:

        When i search for silver micro it comes and shows the price of silver. Then when i click on buy option it showa the same price. But i think it should have shown 1950 or something like that for 1 lot.i will be highly obliges if you answer my question..

  5. SANTOSH says:

    where do i get spot price graph for commodities??? it seems not enabled in zerodha….mcx website doesn’t have any graphs too

  6. Gaurav says:

    Sir……….what is tha 5th day of expiri of month. ? End what is tha last day of expirei month?
    End what is tha ……case/fhycial

  7. Jay Parmar says:

    Hi,
    Are you going to teach Pair Trading technique in trading strategies and system module?

    • Karthik Rangappa says:

      It is certainly in the agenda.

      • Jay says:

        Glad to hear that. Will be waiting for it. Meanwhile can you recommend any good source to learn pair trading. I have almost completed learning basics of it, but not getting some clarification for certain points. If at all your recommendation links might work for me.

        • Karthik Rangappa says:

          I do plan to cover that sometime soon. But I’ve heard the quant insti program on pair trading is decent. But its a paid program, not free.

  8. rohit sharma says:

    Hi
    If I trade silver M , I will not be forced to close my position
    I can hold position till expiry. Right?

  9. Harsh Shah says:

    Hi Nitin. I understand how gold is priced in India since our demands are met by import. But is silver priced in the same fashion? Since the supply of silver is low globally compared to the demand and we export quite a bit of silver every year with the imports falling drastically.

  10. Mayank says:

    Hi Karthik, Just to clarify my understanding,

    The MCX Silver MINI Contract specification states following at:
    https://www.mcxindia.com/docs/default-source/default-document-library/silver-mini-november-2017-contract-onwards.pdf

    Trading Unit : 5kg
    Maximum Order size: 600kg
    Am I correct in calculating:
    1. That the maximum lots that can be pruchased in a single(1) order is 120 ?
    2. Is there a limit by MCX, that an order above certain amount, for individual traders, would be rejected ? e.g. An order for Silver MINI would easily cross an amount of 1 crores, for lot quantity of even 100. would it be rejected based on the amount ? Or per contract spec. 120 lots per order would be allowed ?
    3. Would a similar calculation be applicable for other commodities in MCX based on their contract specifications ?

    Thanks,
    Mayank

    • Karthik Rangappa says:

      1) Not sure what the position wide limit is on Silver, you need to check that.
      2) If it exceeds client wise position limit, then it will get rejected
      3) Yes

  11. Raj says:

    Thanks for providing quality material
    delivery of the contract or simply cash settle! will you elaborate it what it means? I am still confusing …

    Hoping for reply
    Thanks

    • Karthik Rangappa says:

      Delivery of contract (or physical settlement) is when you deliver actual shares/commodities upon expiry. Cash is when you pay the difference in your buy and sale price.

  12. Patel Kanubhai GANPATBHAI says:

    Is there any correlation between silver and base metal like copper? .. Our commodity market is too much volatile after 6 o’clock to 9 o’clock mostly in silver and gold.. Is safe to trade in that time?

    • Karthik Rangappa says:

      I cannot comment on the safety part. This really depends on how you trade. I cant think of a correlation from their characteristics perspective, but maybe the numbers could paint a different picture. I’d suggest you run a correlation test between the two.

  13. santosh patidar says:

    At what price settlement will take place in commodity after expiry. If I don’t square off say crude buy position and let it go to expiry.
    Will it settle at last trading price ?
    or Is there any method which exchange follow ?

    • Closing Price is the weighted average price of all trades done during the last 30 minutes of a trading day. This will be the settlement price.
      Commodities have physical and cash settlement(differs for each contract). Crude Oil is cash-settled at the settlement price

  14. Mohsin says:

    Hi,

    If we want to invest in Gold or Silver can we do it with Commodity account? or what are the ways to do so. Currently I am having one Gold mutual fund but no able to find same with Silver. So if I want to buy Gold and Silver and not trade them and keep them in my Dmat account as long as I wish what should I do? Please guide me.

    Regards,
    Mohsin

    • Karthik Rangappa says:

      If you want to trade these commodities, then you will have to trade the futures via your Commodity trading account. No need of a DEMAT as these are derivative contracts.

      • Mohsin says:

        Hi Karthik,

        Thanks for your reply. I do not want to trade in commodities what I need is as we buy and hold stocks in our account so that we can keep them as long as we want and sell later whenever we desire, can we do the same with Gold or Silver using zerodha?

        As I informed earlier that I have started a mutual fund for Gold. I want to accumulate Silver. Please guide.

        Regards,
        Mohsin

        • Karthik Rangappa says:

          You can do that with Gold ETFs, but for Silver, I’m not sure if there is a way out. We don’t have silver ETFs in India.

        • Lakshmi Narayan says:

          The best way to invest in gold is through exchange traded funds (ETFs). Unfortunately, we do not have Silver ETFs in India. However, the most popular ways you could invest in the white metal are as follows:

          Silver Bars/Coins
          The most traditional way to invest in silver are buying silver bars and silver coins. The advantage of investing in silver bars/coins is its tangibility (you can see, feel, and touch) and its affordable price. Unlike gold, where you have to invest in thousands, silver coins can be bought with a few hundred rupees.

          But holding physical silver has its own disadvantages. Like storage problems, safety issues, and transaction costs.

          Silver Jewelry
          Silver is also known as poor man’s gold. Silver jewelry has the same benefits as the silver bars or coins. That is, it is tangible. But making and transaction charges (which is usually 15 to 30%) is a big disadvantage here. And of course, silver jewelry also possess other risks associated with silver bar and coins.

          E-Silver
          You can also invest in silver through electronic form. Just like you invest in shares, you can invest in silver in demat form through the National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL). You just need to open an account with one of the NSEL’s Depository Participants. And there’s also an option to take physical delivery if you’re so inclined.

          Commodity Futures
          Silver is also available for trading in the futures market at the multi-commodity exchange (MCX). Trading in silver futures is highly risky due to the leverage components. So you can consider this option only if you have a high risk appetite.

          Foreign ETFs
          Since there are no silver ETFs available in India, another roundabout way is investing in silver ETFs in the US market through international trading accounts. This is a perfectly legal way to invest in the commodity, but there are certain regulations that you will have to compile with before taking this route.

          There are also certain level of risk attached to this route. The foreign currency fluctuations is the biggest one. You will also have to take care of the taxation issues. Also, the brokerage and transaction costs are much higher. Certainly, this option isn’t for everyone.

          Above are some of the most popular ways to invest in silver. Now the best options among these may vary from person to person. For something that works best for you

  15. Shreyas says:

    Hi Karthik,
    Can you please tell me where I can get a candlestick chart with years of data for silver or any other commodity for that matter traded on MCX?? Because the commodity futures chart just shows the data from the start of the contract… I just want to know if I can find the underlying commodity price like Nifty index…

  16. Sindhura Shantharama Hegde says:

    Hello sir
    Is there any place where I can get intraday candlestick pattern chart of silver(MCX) of 2016 and 2017?Please help me by providing some links,thanks in adavnce

  17. Fazal says:

    It is possible to buy far month contract. Iam trying to buy silverm Feb contract 2019 in site but it is rejected. It is showing blocked for mcx_fo block type all.

  18. sahil swaroop says:

    hi sir,
    can u teach how u run these correlations ? on which platform? between to commodities or between any asset classes. I do correlation by the eye by comparing charts but in that method, I can only spot assets which are strongly correlated .but the way u do it one can spot correlation that is hard to do by doing charts

    • Karthik Rangappa says:

      All you need to do is have the time series data of the closing prices of the stock or two commodities you are tracking and use the excel function ‘=correl()’.

  19. Saify Husain says:

    Hey Karthik, your blogs are awesome as usual !
    I have a question, on kite we have derivatives chart not spot, So I am using Investing.com to track Silver’s spot chart and if I am not wrong derivatives follows spot, not the other way around.
    The query is, when sometimes we have some pattern building on our futures chart & that patterns breaks successfully, but we do not see the same pattern break confirmation on the spot chart, so what should we do in that case ??
    For Eg. today Silver broke its long term daily channel & fell around 200 points, but that same daily pattern is yet to be broken in spot chart, hence I didn’t take the trade.

    So just because a long term pattern has been broken in future’s chart, can we take the trade? or should we wait for spot to break the same pattern ??

    You can see today’s Silver future’s chart on kite & see it broke a long term upward trend line(trend line started from 30-11-18), it broke today on our future & price fell some 200 points, but the same trend line in spot chart is yet to hit the trend line.
    Hope I am making some sense.

    Your help would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

    • Karthik Rangappa says:

      Saify, I get your point. Yes, the spot dictates the future price, but the correlation with these international commodities is not perfect like in equities, such that the tick by tick behavior are similar. This is because the domestic commodities have their own price dynamics and demand-supply situation. Having said that, a large impact on the spot will map on the futures as well.

  20. Saify Husain says:

    Thanks for the quick reply Karthik.

    As you said the domestic has its own supply and demand, so a trade can be taken basis on some pattern/technical analysis in futures??

  21. Sankar says:

    When is last trading day of Silver March 2019 futures contract

  22. Anil Markundey says:

    When is the last trading day of Silver May 2019 future contract. In the depth buy and sell Expiry date is mentioned 3rd May 2019

  23. jaya says:

    hai sir I did run a correlation check on Gold and Silver using 30 minutes intraday data for the last 3 months (note this is over a 1000 data points) . sir my question was 1) where can i download this data 30 minutes
    2) we need to take spot value data in zerodha no mcx spot value data sir,
    sir will you pls help me in this point , 30 minutes candle closing price taking more data points and time in excel sir.

    • Karthik Rangappa says:

      1) I’d personally prefer the EOD chart here as opposed to the 30 mins chart.
      2) Spot data is not available

  24. Sharad says:

    Hi,
    Can you tell me that if we buy silver, can we sell it anytime before the expiry, or silver under MCX is only available for intraday Trading?

  25. Pikul says:

    What is the validity and expiry of gold and silver futures?as well as plz mention the expiry day?

    • Karthik Rangappa says:

      It depends on the contract, at any given point there are at least 6 contracts available for you to trade. It is just that the liquidity is not good enough.

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