As of 8 pm Eastern, the Comex' monopoly to the precious metals futures is over. As we reported previously, today, at 8 am local time, is when the Hong Kong Mercantile exchange would start trading the inaugural Asian precious metal futures contract: the 32 ounce /1 kilo/ gold futures. In the first 30 minutes of trading it appears to have been a subdued session, with just 22 contracts changing hands in the August 2011-June 2012 frame. How this trading will impact prices: nobody knows (yet). The spot price of gold has barely budged in the past hour. That said, now that PM futures fragmentation is starting, we expect that within 2 years we will have various deranged HFT algos trading tonnes of gold, quote stuffing globally, and otherwise creating one of the most volatile trading environments imaginable.
And since we know you are asking: the margin schedule for the HKMerx will be kept and listed by the same LCH.Clearnet that hikes and lowers Irish and Portuguese bond margins by 10% on an almost weekly basis. Let see now how the Comex hikes its gold margins with impunity if it has competition that keeps margins "artificially" low, and provides disgruntled Comex clients with an alternative venue that accepts far less cash collateral to trade.
It's called competition Chicago: get used to it.