Platinum extends rally to near 6½-year peak on recovery hopes

Green factor: A man works at Anglo American Platinum’s Unki mine in Zimbabwe. Green energy encouragement is among the factors driving platinum prices up. — Reuters

NEW YORK: Platinum prices soared to their highest in nearly 6½ years, fuelled by expectations that a rebound in the global economy would stoke demand for the metal used in auto catalysts.

Platinum, used in catalytic converters for vehicles, was up 2.3% at US$1,333.02 an ounce by 0335 GMT yesterday, but off the high of US$1,336.50, its best level since September 2014.

“Green energy encouragement... all this infrastructure reflation kind of mood and the weaker US dollar narrative” were among the factors driving prices, said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at financial services firm Axi.

US President Joe Biden plans to invest heavily in infrastructure after his US$1.9-trillion Covid-19 aid package is passed.

Supply disruptions in top producer South Africa, a recovery in auto sales and stricter emission regulations are also boosting prices, analysts said.

“With China implementing Phase 6 standard for both gasoline and diesel vehicles from January 2021, PGM loadings will be strong, ” said Soni Kumari, a commodity strategist with ANZ.

Higher loadings will translate into a stronger demand growth for auto catalysts than auto sales. However, she said, “a swift recovery in mine supply and restart of Anglo’s smelter to refine the stockpile of unprocessed platinum could pause this rally.” If supplies take longer to return to normal levels, prices could soon hit US$1,400, she added.

Palladium climbed 0.6% to US$2,401.70, having earlier hit a one-month peak of US$2,421.68. Spot gold rose 0.3% to US$1,824.02 per ounce as the US dollar eased against rivals. US gold futures added 0.1% to US$1,824.10, while silver gained 0.9% to US$27.84.

Limiting bullion’s gains, benchmark US Treasury yields rose to their highest levels since March. “Provided the 10-year yields stay below 1.5%, markets are still willing to ride the inflation narrative and that is quite supportive for gold, ” Innes said.

Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s end-January monetary policy meeting is due today. — Reuters

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