Palladium price surges to 14-month high; gold shines on weak US data

San Francisco (Aug 10)  Palladium and platinum rose sharply on Wednesday as bets on lower prices were reversed in thin conditions after the metal broke above key chart levels, while gold rose as weak US data weighed on the dollar.

Palladium surged overnight in Asia, hitting 14-month highs.

Traders said a wave of short covering was likely triggered after the metal broke above $700 an ounce, and then above last week’s 14-month peak of $723 an ounce.

Spot palladium was up 4.75% at $726.97 ounce at 3.11pm GMT, having risen as high as $746.10 an ounce in Asian trading hours. The move was likely to have been exacerbated by thin liquidity, analysts said.

Palladium, used in catalytic converters in cars, climbed nearly 20% last month in its biggest one-month rise in eight-and-a-half years. That may mean investors who had bet on lower prices could be exposed to heavy losses.

"(Commodity) prices today are being supported by a combination of short covering and a weak dollar. Many people were a few positions short and you saw a lot of trying to cover that," said Marex Spectron’s head of precious metals David Govett.

Gold, often perceived as a hedge against economic and financial risk, was 0.84% higher at $1,351.50 an ounce.

The metal rose after a report that US worker productivity fell for a third straight quarter in the spring of this year, shrugging off earlier losses on Friday’s jobs report. The data pressured the dollar index, which gauges the US currency against a basket of six major currencies, and US Treasury yields but world stocks hit a one-year high.

The unexpected drop in US productivity may confirm the US Federal Reserve’s fears that the economy could slip into a period of slow growth, reducing the central bank’s willingness to raise interest rates.

"Central banks look increasingly accommodative and no one seems to be going against that trend ... which supports all asset prices," said Morgan Stanley’s head of European rates strategy Anton Heese.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising US interest rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which the metal is priced.

US gold futures for December delivery were up 0.84% at $1,357.9 an ounce.

Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell for a second straight day on Tuesday. They slipped 0.12% to 972.62 tonnes from Monday.

Among other precious metals, platinum was up 2.17% at $1,174.80 after rising to $1,191.70, its loftiest in over 17 months, while silver was up 1.98% at $20.22 an ounce.

Source: bdLive