Rand sinks platinum, palladium prices

Platinum futures trading on the Nymex market in New York declined on Wednesday to a six month low of $947.50 an ounce, dragged down by a slide in the value of the currency of top producer of the metal South Africa.

Year to date the platinum price is now up only 9% thanks to the weak rand which lowers costs for South Africa’s miners responsible for 73% of global annual supply and the receding threat of strikes in the country. Payrolls for the country’s deep level mines account for half operating costs.

Sister metal palladium is also under pressure, sinking to a three-month low of just above $650 an ounce this despite strong car sales data in the world’s top market China. Palladium is up 17% in value so far this year.

While platinum biggest source of demand is jewellery and is used for curbing emissions in diesel-powered vehicles, some 70% of overall palladium demand comes from the vehicle industry, particularly gasoline powered cars. While in Europe diesel cars make up more than 40% of sales, gasoline is dominant in China and US.

While vehicle sales in the US are levelling off from record levels seen last year, Chinese cars are still rolling off the lots and should set a new record this year.

Almost 2.3 million cars were sold in China in September, 29% more than in the same month last year as customers make the most of tax incentives set to expire at the end of 2016. Sales up to end September in is up 15% compared to the same period in 2015.

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