Silver futures opened lower after the CME Group announced that it was raising margins for Comex contracts following a rally to an eight-year high that was inspired by an army of retail investors.

Most-active prices declined as much as 2.4% in early Asian trading on Tuesday. Margins will rise to US$16,500 ($21,961.80) per contract from US$14,000, effective Feb 2, the exchange said in a statement, describing its decision as based on “the normal review of market volatility to ensure adequate collateral coverage.”

The global silver market has emerged as the latest focus for an army of retail investors who share tips and views on Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum after they drove up the prices of some out-of-favour US stocks. Still, it remains unclear who authored the initial posts that ignited the staggering run-up in prices. In addition, many commodity analysts have cautioned that chasing up silver would be a much tougher proposition than squeezing stocks higher.


“We suspect that prices will remain volatile,” James Steel, chief precious metals analyst at HSBC Securities (USA) Inc., said in a note before the margin increase was announced. “Beyond this week, and possibly sooner, we believe the new entrants into the market may tire and begin to liquidate silver holdings, with a commensurate price impact. Buyer beware!”

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Most-active prices traded 1.7% lower at US$28.905 an ounce at 7.35 am in Singapore. On Monday, they surged as much as 13% to the highest since 2013.

“The Reddit-fueled trader is learning that no one has a significant short position, and that the silver market is much bigger than some of the small-cap stocks they have been trading,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda Corp. “Silver coin purchases and call option bets are not enough of a driver to send silver prices skyrocketing to record high levels.”