[SINGAPORE] CME Group Inc's planned Asian gold kilobar contract will begin trading in Hong Kong on Jan 26, a new entrant in the regional race to provide a price benchmark.
Bourses in Singapore and top consumer China also recently launched gold contracts in a bid to establish a price reference in the top consuming region and better reflect Asian demand.
CME's US Comex contract - the most liquid gold contract - already sets the benchmark for bullion futures globally. "As demand for gold grows rapidly in China and the Far East markets, and physical bullion moves eastward, the world increasingly looks at market conditions and price signals in the biggest bullion trading hub in the region, Hong Kong," said Harriet Hunnable, CME's executive director of precious metals, in a statement on Tuesday.
The 1 kg physically settled Asian contract will complement the benchmark 100-ounce Comex contract, and help meet hedging demand, Hunnable said.
CME had said in September that the contract would be launched before the end of 2014. The company did not immediately respond to queries on Tuesday on the reasons behind the delay.
The firm has been working on the launch of the contract for about a year. Sources told Reuters in April last year that CME was in talks for an Asian gold contract.
The launch of the CME contract within six months of new contracts in Singapore and China underscores rising demand in Asia - home to the top two gold consumers, China and India - to have price benchmarks that reflect regional market dynamics.
However, liquidity is an issue for the Asian contracts. The 25 kg contract on the Singapore Exchange and the three new international contracts on the Shanghai Gold Exchange have failed to garner significant trading volumes.
Asia is the top consumer of physical bullion in the form of jewellery, bars and coins, but there is growing disenchantment with benchmark prices set in the West, which tend to be influenced by speculators.