PRECIOUS-Platinum scales 6-1/2-year peak on strong investment demand

PUBLISHED: Tue, 16 Feb 2021 10:07:01 GMT

* Recovery in mine supply could pause platinum rally- analyst * Benchmark U.S. yields at highest since March * Minutes of U.S. Fed Jan meeting due on Wednesday (Adds comments, updates prices) By Nakul Iyer Feb 16 – Platinum extended its rally to a near 6-1/2-year high on Tuesday as investors bet the autocatalyst would benefit from a likely pick up in global economic activity and a push for clean energy technology. Platinum , used in catalytic converters for vehicles, was up 0.1% to $1,304.06 per ounce at 0944 GMT, having earlier hit $1,336.50, its highest since September 2014. Prices have rallied as much as 25.1% this year. The surge “has been triggered by very strong investment demand,” said UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo. Investors are looking for opportunities in platinum “because of positive stories down the road” including its substitution for palladium in new catalytic converters from next year and prospects for its use in green hydrogen technology, Staunovo added. Investors also kept close tabs on the potential roll-out of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine in top platinum producer South Africa. “A swift recovery in mine supply and restart of Anglo’s (American Platinum) smelter to refine the stockpile of unprocessed platinum could pause this rally,” said Soni Kumari, a commodity strategist with ANZ. But “with China implementing Phase 6 standard for both gasoline and diesel vehicles from January 2021, Platinum Group Metals loadings will be strong,” she added, referring to cleaner engine regulations. Spot palladium fell 0.1% to $2,385.42 an ounce, having earlier hit a one-month high of $2,424.26. A weaker dollar pushed spot gold prices up 0.3% to $1,823.31, but higher benchmark U.S. Treasury yields limited bullion’s gains. Real rates and inflation expectations in the United States will remain a key driver for gold and inflation expectations could pick-up again with rising oil and commodity prices, potentially supporting gold, UBS’ Staunovo said. Bullion is considered a hedge against inflation likely spurred by massive stimulus, but higher yields have challenged that status since they increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding gold. U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,824.00 per ounce, while silver gained 0.5% to $27.73. (Reporting by Nakul Iyer and Sumita Layek in Bengaluru. Editing by Mark Potter)

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