Palladium hits another record, inches closer to the price of gold

January 3, 2019

Palladium futures rallied Friday to their highest settlement on record, extending last year’s advance and narrowing their price spread with gold to the smallest in roughly 16 years.

“Palladium has been on a multi-year run that shows few signs of abating,” John Ciampaglia, chief executive officer of Sprott Asset Management, wrote in a recent report. “Palladium is close to becoming the most ‘precious’ of precious metals.”

Palladium, which is used in pollution-controlling catalytic converters on gasoline-powered vehicles, has been significantly narrowing its spread with gold prices.

‘Palladium is close to becoming the most “precious” of precious metals.’

John Ciampaglia, Sprott Asset Management

On Friday, March palladium PLH9, +3.77%  added $34.10, or 2.8%, to settle at $1,234.40 an ounce. The finish was the highest based on FactSet records dating back to November 1984, topping the previous record settlement of $1,201.30 from Dec. 19.

February gold GCG9, -0.63%  fell $9, or 7%, to finish at $1,285.80 an ounce as a rally in the U.S. stock market and stronger-than-expected jobs data dulled investment demand in the yellow metal. That helped narrow its spread with palladium futures down to $51.40, the lowest since November 2002, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The last time palladium settled higher than gold was in October 2002.

“While the escalating U.S.-China trade war hurt many commodities in 2018, it couldn’t dent palladium’s rise,” said Ciampaglia. “Demand for palladium was especially strong last year, as environmental concerns have prompted a global shift from diesel to gasoline and hybrid vehicles.”

“Not even the 2018 slowdown in China’s auto market, the world’s largest, dampened demand,” he said.

Auto sales in China, the biggest global market, were on track for their annual decline in three decades after plunging 16% in November.

Read: Apple’s slow sales are latest indication of Chinese consumer anxiety

News Friday on progress toward a U.S.-China trade deal was upbeat, however. China’s Commerce Ministry confirmed that a delegation of U.S. officials will travel to Beijing for a new round of trade talks on Monday and Tuesday, according to news reports.

“Supply shortages continue to support palladium’s performance, with strong multi-year growth in palladium demand now straining a fixed supply,” Ciampaglia said. “Palladium is especially scarce and its supply is inelastic since it is usually a by-product of ores that are being mined for other metals, like platinum and rhodium.”


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