Platinum firm on South African strikes; gold eases below $1,300

Johannesburg-S.A. (May 20)  Platinum gained for a second straight session on Tuesday as labor strikes in top producer South Africa continued for a 17th week, disrupting supply of about 40 percent of the metal's global output.


Gold held below $1,300 an ounce as a lack of major economic data and no significant developments in the Ukraine crisis kept investor interest muted.


Spot gold was steady at $1,293.40 an ounce by 0313 GMT. Platinum rose 0.3 percent to $1,468.00 after rising 0.5 percent in the previous session.


Last week, platinum posted its strongest weekly performance in six, along with palladium.


Despite the recent price gains, platinum's performance during the long strike has been uninspired.


"Considering how long the strike is dragging on, it is quite remarkable that prices are not pushing higher still," INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said.





Platinum was steady on Tuesday, holding on to overnight gains as labor strikes in top producer South Africa continued for a 17th week, disrupting supply of about 40 percent of the metal's global output.


Gold fell back slightly below $1,300 an ounce as an industry report showed first-quarter demand in top buyers India and China fell sharply, but there was little other major economic data.


Spot gold eased 0.2 percent to $1,289.55 an ounce by 0651 GMT. Platinum was flat at $1,464.00 after rising 0.5 percent in the previous session.


Despite the recent price gains, platinum's performance during the long strike has been uninspired.


"Considering how long the strike is dragging on, it is quite remarkable that prices are not pushing higher still," INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said.


"We attribute this to the fact that both platinum and palladium demand remains steady, but not remarkable, while more importantly, there apparently is plenty of idle inventory on hand to accommodate the buying that does exist."


South Africa's longest and costliest mining strike turned violent this month, with four miners killed as more employees tried to report for work at the world's top platinum producers, ignoring calls by the union to continue protesting.


The four-month-long strike against Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin, could cost 1 million ounces of production this year.