Palladium and platinum set for weekly gains, but gold is flat

Singapore (May 23)   Palladium was steady near a two-and-a-half-year high on Friday and was headed for its best week in two months on supply fears due to the prolonged strike in South Africa.


Platinum was on track for its second straight weekly gain, also on supply worries, while gold was headed for a flat week.


Palladium was steady in early Asian trading after hitting $837.40 an ounce in the previous session — its highest since August 2011. The metal has gained 2.3% this week, while platinum has climbed nearly 2%.


"The platinum group metals will see some more gains as it doesn’t look like there will be an agreement soon on the wages in South Africa," said one precious metals trader in Hong Kong.


"With violence also increasing, we can see gains at least in the short term."


The crippling four-month strike could last much longer, the CE of Impala Platinum said, adding that feedback from initial court-mediated talks between the world’s biggest producers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) was lukewarm.


The strike is the longest and costliest industrial action in the mining history of South Africa. It has grown increasingly violent as growing numbers of workers have attempted to return to work, while the unions press for more strikes. A member of the National Union of Mineworkers was stabbed to death on his way to work at an Anglo American Platinum mine, the union said on Thursday, the fifth such killing in the past two weeks.


Spot gold was trading steady at $1,294.65 an ounce by 3.08am GMT and was headed for a flat week.


"Gold has been trapped in a very compressed range for well over a month, but we suspect that we could see a substantial move in the days ahead once the Ukrainian elections are over," INTL FCStone said in a note.


Ukraine said more than a dozen servicemen were killed on Thursday in an early morning clash with pro-Russian separatists, fuelling security concerns ahead of a presidential election on Sunday seen as crucial for its fragile democracy.


Gold, seen as a safe-haven asset, has been buoyed by rising tension between the West and Russia over Ukraine, gaining about 7% this year