Small Gold Trader Makes Big Splash

The Wall Street Journal’s Carolyn Cui and Gregory Zuckerman report about a huge trade by a tiny hedge fund that had sent shudders through the gold market.

Thanks to the nature of futures trading, Daniel Shak’s $10 million hedge fund held gold contracts valued at more than $850 million, more than 10% of the main U.S. futures market, and the equivalent of South Africa’s annual gold production.

But as gold prices started falling this year, the trade, which was a combination of being long and short gold contracts—bets that prices will both rise and fall—started going bad. Monday, he liquidated his position, and is returning money to clients.

As a result, the number of gold contracts on CME Group Inc.’s Comex division plunged more than 81,000, to about 500,000, the biggest single reduction ever. While his trade didn’t account for all of the contracts, an average daily move is about 3,000 to 5,000 contracts.

[GOLDBUST]

That Mr. Shak and his firm, SHK Asset Management, could control one of the largest positions in the gold market underscores how leverage can enable investors to control huge positions in many commodity markets.

“Yeah, that was just me liquidating my spread position,” Mr. Shak, 51 years old, said in an interview. “I had a significant, fully margined position. The dollar amount of the gold liquidation was very small, it was just a lot of contracts.”

Mr. Shak said he quit the trade when he was 70% down. People close to the firm confirmed the loss was about $7 million.

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