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Platinum powers to a six-year high on tight global supply

Highlights
  • Metal used in autocatalysts has risen 22% so far in 2021

Platinum rallied again, surging to the highest level in more than six years on signs that an economic recovery from the pandemic is set to boost demand for the metal used in catalytic converters.

The precious metal has surged about 22% so far this year, outperforming all its peers, aided by tight supply caused by the outage of a key refiner in 2020. Demand for platinum from autocatalysts is expected to rise in 2021, driven by a surge in car sales and higher loadings in Chinese heavy-duty vehicles, Johnson Matthey said in a report last week.

Increasingly the metal is being viewed as a bet on a greener economic recovery from the pandemic. Europe, China and the U.S. are all tightening emissions standards this year, boosting demand for platinum group metals. Platinum’s green credentials are also burnished by its use in the hydrogen economy, though physical demand from the sector is likely to remain modest in the near future.

“As long as the ‘everything’ rally continues, investors prefer platinum with its green transformation and tight supply over gold,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S. Still, relative strength indexes for growth-focused commodities like “oil, (petroleum) products, cotton, copper and platinum are all now well into overbought territory so a period of consolidation or correction awaits.”

Platinum rose as much as 2.6% to $1,339.73 an ounce, to the highest since Sept. 2014. The metal traded at $1,308.18 at 10:10 a.m. in London.

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Meanwhile gold edged up Tuesday as the U.S. recorded the lowest daily number of new coronavirus infections since Oct. 25. Bullion’s outlook is darkened by ongoing bets on a swift economic recovery, which has sent global equities to a record and pushed the yield on 10-year Treasuries to the highest in almost a year, eroding gold’s appeal.

Spot gold rose 0.3% to $1,823.36 an ounce, after dropping 0.3% on Monday. Silver and palladium advanced.

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