WPIC switches 2021 platinum forecast from deficit to surplus

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The World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) said on Thursday it now expects the global platinum market to be in surplus this year as mine supply ramps up and investment demand falls. The roughly 8 million ounce a year market will be oversupplied by 190,000 ounces in 2021, the WPIC said.

In its last quarterly report in May, it predicted a shortfall of 158,000 ounces, which would have been the third consecutive year of undersupply.

Platinum is used by auto makers, who embed it in vehicle exhausts to reduce emissions, in other industry such as glass making and for jewellery and investment. Prices rose to a 6-1/2 year high of $1,336.50 an ounce in February but have since sagged to around $1,000.

Last year, the coronavirus pandemic sharply reduced platinum supply. Demand from industry and jewellers also fell but investors bought huge amounts and almost half a million ounces flooded into exchange vaults in New York, pushing the market into deficit, the WPIC said.

Demand from industry has rebounded and a boom in heavy duty vehicle production and tighter emissions standards are pushing up consumption by the auto sector, it said. But jewellery sales remain weak, investment demand, while strong, has slowed, and metal has stopped flowing to New York.

Supply, meanwhile, has rebounded faster than expected thanks to rapid processing of a backlog of material created by plant outages in 2020, the WPIC said. The platinum market was in surplus in the second quarter, the first quarterly surplus since January-March 2020, the WPIC said.

However, mine supply is expected to flatline in the coming years and demand should rise as auto makers use more platinum in exhaust systems to replace palladium, whose price has rocketed, said Trevor Raymond, the WPIC’s director of research.

“The next few years are far more likely to be deficits than surpluses,” he said.

(By Peter Hobson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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