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Platinum and palladium prices to rise through 2021

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Analysts and traders have cut their forecasts for autocatalyst metals platinum and palladium as the coronavirus outbreak curtails vehicle sales, but they still expect prices for both to rise gradually through 2021, a Reuters poll showed.

Platinum and palladium are used mainly in engine exhausts to reduce emissions. Platinum is also used in jewellery.

Years of undersupply pushed palladium to record highs above $2,800 an ounce this year, while surpluses have kept platinum near multi-year lows.

“Auto sector recovery is key for platinum prices, as we doubt jewellery demand will see any revival this year”

ANZ analyst Soni Kumari

Platinum, used to curb emissions from diesel-fueled vehicles, slumped the most on record in March.

South African miners Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum Holdings have cut their production targets, while Sibanye Stillwater has suspended its forecasts.

MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC, the no. 1 palladium miner, has barely missed a beat on operations but expects shortfalls to emerge again in early 2021.

Palladium – which priced around $2,070 an ounce on Tuesday – will average $2,050 this year and $2,138 in 2021, according to the median result from a poll of 32 analysts and traders.

A similar poll in April forecast averages of $2,100 this year and $2,150 in 2021.

Platinum – currently at around $840 an ounce – will average $832 this year and $913 in 2021. The poll three months ago predicted averages of $836 an ounce for 2020 and $945 for 2021.

Palladium is likely to remain in deficit while platinum will be oversupplied, analysts said.

The pandemic drove auto sales to a 30-year-low in April in United States. In June, new car registrations dropped by 24.1% year-on-year to 1,131,843 vehicles in the European Union, Britain and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries, statistics from the European Auto Industry Association (ACEA) showed.

“Auto sector recovery is key for platinum prices, as we doubt jewellery demand will see any revival this year,” said ANZ analyst Soni Kumari.

“The market is flipping from a deficit in 2019 into a surplus of 480,000-500,000 ounces in 2020.”

(With files from Reuters)