PRECIOUS-Silver drops from 8-year peak as stellar rally loses steam

* CME raises Comex 5000 margins by 17.9%

* Silver hasn’t topped out just yet-analyst

* U.S. commodities regulator monitoring silver markets activity (Adds comments, details, updates prices)

By Sumita Layek

Feb 2 (Reuters) – Silver prices dropped nearly 2% on Tuesday, as investors locked in profits after the precious metal touched a near eight-year peak in the previous session.

Spot silver slipped 1.5% to $28.54 an ounce by 0257 GMT, after jumping 7.3% to hit its highest since February 2013 at $30.03 on Monday, as retail investors piled into the market following calls on social media in an attempt to push prices up. Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s steps to increase margins on silver trading, and discourage the highly speculative behaviour in the market has prompted some profit taking, said IG Market analyst Kyle Rodda.

CME Group Inc on Monday raised Comex 5000 Silver Futures margins by 17.9% to $16,500 per contract from $14,000 for February. L1N2K800V

Margins are deposits mandated by exchanges to mitigate default risks while investors trade in futures markets and they are typically raised at times of price volatility.

The retail frenzy that started last week has left dealers from the United States to Singapore scrambling for bars and coins to meet demand, while also prompting the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission to closely monitor the market. fact that silver moved up without similar spikes in other precious and industrial metals, “suggests that it’s an outlier of sorts and therefore vulnerable to come down quite strongly”, said ED&F Man Capital Markets analyst Edward Meir, adding, it hasn’t, however, topped out just yet.

Despite the lack of fundamentals for prices to move up, experts say the retail interest can continue to push the market higher in the near term.

“It’s just wild market behaviour with a low level of predictability. So, even fundamentals and technicals almost go out of the window,” Rodda said.

Spot gold was steady at $1,860.36 per ounce. U.S. GCv1 shed 0.1% to $1,861.90.

Platinum declined 1% at $1,115.86, while palladium added 0.4% to $2,254.98.

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