palladium price

The Global Precious Metals MMI dropped by nearly 3% this month. Palladium dropped the most, though silver also looked comparatively weak.

Precious Metals

Gold Prices Trends: Bullish or Bearish?

Gold has started to trade within a range formed by swing lows and highs. A break above either range will clear up the overall direction. Without a “big picture” view, the overall direction remains unclear.

Precious metals

According to a recent article, at least three gold analysts have a more bearish opinion of gold for the longer term. The analysts include James Steel, Chief Precious Metals Analyst at HSBC Securities and Suki Cooper, Executive Director of Precious Metals Research Standard Chartered. There’s also Rhona O’Connell, head of Europe and Asian market analysis at StoneX Financial Ltd. Even with an uncertain technical analysis, the group has pointed to a few factors most likely to stop gold’s bull run. The first being a strong dollar. The second is the Fed’s recent belt-tightening.

That said, gold tends to stay strong in both deflationary and stagflationary markets. Rising interest rates signify deflationary actions designed to put the brakes on price increases. However, many remain concerned that the US economy could tip to stagflation. This is a condition typified by slowed economic growth, rising prices, and higher unemployment. Were this to happen, precious metals prices will fluctuate greatly.

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Gold

Silver, by way of comparison, shares the same outlook as gold. However, the price of silver looks weaker with each prior high it takes out. As sell orders are filled, buyer strength gets depleted. Still, silver has room to rise in the short term before it reaches the major supply zone seen on HTFs. HTFs, in this case, stand for “high time frame.” You can see a clear example by looking at the chart on a daily, weekly, and monthly scale.

Meanwhile, platinum and palladium prices are making their own moves.

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Palladium

Precious Metals Prices: Platinum and Palladium

In the case of platinum, prices have begun to shift upwards on shorter time frames. It’s as if they’re targeting newly-introduced supply zones. The introduction of supply basically resulted in newly-formed bearish “order blocks.” Designed to create an inefficiency in price or, this can contribute to stronger moves. Prices begin to correct on a small scale as each weak high gets taken out in anticipation of a “mini-rally” into bearish ranges. That said, from a technical perspective, platinum has a similar outlook to gold and silver.

Platinum

Palladium prices appear weaker overall. Certainly weaker than platinum. The metal’s failure to form any swing highs has caused bias to the downside. Weak lows need sweeping for the trend to resume. In the meantime, short-term rallies will serve as entries for short-sellers as prices continue to form lower highs. Industrial buyers will of course implement a different strategy.

Actual Metal Prices:

  • US palladium prices dropped from $$2254/oz to  $1950/oz.
  • Japanese silver prices dropped from $7.26/ten grams to $6.74/ten grams

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The Automotive MMI (Monthly Metals Index) experienced a slight decline from May into June. The 30-day price change was roughly -9.55, a -6.52% drop. As with last month, multiple crises impacted the marketplace’s overall health. Among them are an ongoing microchip shortage and COVID-19 lockdowns. Below, we’ll discuss if and when we can expect normalization.

Automotive

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Inflation Causing Precious Metals to Become a Bit Less “Precious”

Gold, silver, platinum and palladium all experienced drops this month as U.S. Treasury yields soared by 3.39%. The news comes amid chronic inflation that seems to show no sign of dissipating. Indeed, as outlined in a Financial Times article, U.S. inflation clocked in at around 8.6% in May. This represents a 40-year high that could spell big trouble for the post-COVID economy.

Much of the market panic stemmed from a Wall Street Journal story predicting a 0.75 percentage point interest rate hike. In preparation for a surge in the dollar, precious metals declined across the board on June 13. In a report published in Reuters, Phillip Streible, the Chief Marketing Strategist for Blue Line Futures, said “There’s a massive correction going on, and when volatility gets that high, you can’t find safety or comfort anywhere.”

While gold and silver are largely investment commodities, palladium and platinum are key components in the automotive world. They are mostly used in catalytic converters for car exhausts, especially in newer, greener vehicles.

Last month, MetalMiner highlighted how newly imposed U.K. tariffs would affect Russia’s platinum and palladium markets. While the former is still climbing, palladium has long since erased those gains.

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The Automotive MMI revealed a 13% drop in palladium prices.

J.D Power Outlines Challenges in the Automotive Rebound

In an article from late May, J.D. Power reported that they expect new vehicle sales to drop significantly from 2021. Specifically, they projected May retail sales to reach just over 1 million units. When adjusted for the difference in selling days, that’s a 20.9% decrease from last May.

However, the company was quick to qualify its numbers, citing that demand far exceeds the available supply. Indeed, for the 12th month in a row, end-of-month retail inventories will be below one million vehicles. J.D. Power also highlighted record-breaking new-vehicle prices. The average transaction price is estimated at $44,832. This is helping to buttress the falling demand by boosting profits, even in the face of rising interest rates.

According to J.D.’s President of Data and Analytics, Thomas King, “for the balance of 2022, increased vehicle availability, higher interest rates and some cooling of used-vehicle values likely will lead to slower transaction price growth—but are unlikely to lead to declines.”

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China’s Automotive Industry Sees a Light at the End of the Tunnel

Back in April, China’s auto association projected a 48% year-over-year drop in car sales. Of course, this was during the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns. Since then, Beijing and Shanghai have loosened their restrictions while simultaneously providing cash incentives to stimulate buying.

According to a recent WSJ article, the efforts are already producing results. For example, passenger car sales rose 30% in May, from 1.04 million vehicles to 1.35 million. Though this number is down about 17% from last year, it clearly shows that things are moving in the right direction.

And while COVID continues to cast a shadow over the country’s economic recovery, the Chinese government’s efforts have largely proved successful. For instance, Beijing reduced the vehicle purchase tax to the tune of nearly $9 billion.

Meanwhile, local governments added their own incentives to the mix in an effort to produce the best possible numbers. It’s too early to tell what the rest of 2022 has in store. However, China is making a concerted effort to show the world they’re back on track.

Semiconductor Shortage Still Affecting Automotive MMI

The semiconductor shortage might be one of the biggest contributing factors to the automotive industry’s ongoing woes. In fact, industry experts at TheDrive.com estimate that lack of microchips has already cut global supply by more than 2 million cars. This estimate received a shot in the arm last month when Toyota announced it would cut its global production plan by around 100,000 vehicles.

According to an article from Reuters, this drops the overall production plan from nearly one million to only 850,000 vehicles. The automaker cited COVID-19 as a compounding factor in the decision, but stated that the chip shortage is the primary holdup. As of the announcement, the company’s promise to deliver 9.7 million vehicles by March 2023 remains intact.

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Automotive MMI: Actual Metal Prices & Trends

  • U.S. platinum bars rose 2.88% to $965. They also peaked at $994 per ounce, indicating that there’s still plenty of room for price movement.
  • Palladium bars fell a stunning 13.49% month over month and currently sit around $1,870 per ounce.
  • Both US Scap and HDG steel experienced drops this month. The former declined 5.91%, while the latter fell 8.81% to $1,736 per short ton.
  • Korean aluminum also fell around 5.59%, with first-day prices clocking in at $4.28 a kilogram.
  • Chinese lead dropped a full 4.44% to $2,255 per metric ton and has since declined even further.
  • On the LME, copper fell just 3.18%, starting the new month at $9.510 per metric ton.

 

 

The United Kingdom recently imposed a 35% duty on all platinum and palladium imports from Russia and Belarus. This move is part of a new package of sanctions on the two countries totaling £1.7 billion ($1.7 billion).

The Department for International Trade (DIT) and HM Treasury made the announcement on May 9. Since Russia’s late February invasion of Ukraine, the country has seen dozens of major trade penalties and tariffs. A DIT official told MetalMiner that there were no UK import tariffs at all on those metals previously.

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Platinum and palladium prices have surged along with other precious metals.

A Major Source of Platinum and Palladium

Russia is one of the world’s largest producers of platinum and palladium. Much of this supply comes from two companies: Norilsk Nickel and the Russian Platinum Group.

Reports indicate that Russia supplies about 40% of the world’s palladium and 15.52% of global platinum. The UK alone imported £1.2 billion ($1.47 billion) worth of platinum and palladium from Russia in 2021. The DIT official told MetalMiner this amounted to 14.1 metric tons and 17 metric tons of palladium.

Platinum’s primary application is in catalysis, which is used in automobile catalytic converters. It is also utilized in the production of petroleum and fuel cells. Of course, the hyper-rare element is also a major investment commodity.  Palladium is useful in catalysis as well. It also has applications in dentistry, surgical tools, and jewelry.

According to data from Trading Economics, platinum was priced at around $940 per troy ounce on May 13. On May 11, it reached a high of $994.22.

Understanding the Two Metals

The UK’s import tariff on Russian and Belarusian platinum and palladium is the country’s first action on non-ferrous metals. Meanwhile, on May 5, the HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) announced an asset freeze against Evraz. A global metal producer headquartered in London, Evraz has several steel making assets in Russia.

Back in March, the Department for International Trade and HM Treasury imposed a 35% import tariff on iron and steel from Russia and Belarus. This was part of a package stripping both countries of their “Most Favored Nation” status on hundreds of exports. How will these moves affect pricing? There’s no simple answer. However, we can assume that Russian metals companies will feel a significant financial pinch.

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The Automotive MMI (Monthly Metals Index) held flat from April to May. This was largely the result of a number of factors working in concert. Below, we’ll dig deeper into the automotive marketplace to see if we can determine what to expect for the rest of 2022.

Automotive MMI: China Auto Sales, Production Plunge In April

Source: China Association of Automobile Manufacturers

The data resulting from China’s COVID-zero policies continues to look grim. According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, auto sales and production plunged in April. Specifically, the latter index dropped 46.2% month over month, while overall auto sales fell 47.1%

Shockingly, Tesla saw sales throughout mainland China plummet 98% from March. Meanwhile, production for the automaker also took a substantial hit, with Chinese output falling 81% from 55,462 automobiles to 10,757. As lockdowns and other strict policies remain ongoing, experts predict that much of the impact witnessed in April will bleed into May.

There is some good news on the horizon, however. For instance, COVID-19 case counts in Shanghai continue to fall. According to data released on May 11, daily infections managed to drop beneath 1,500 cases, an 18-day low. Meanwhile, around 612,500 people have tested positive for the virus since March 1.

The stark drop in daily infections signals the possibility of an end to lockdowns within the city. However, officials over in Beijing continue to ramp up pressure on the populace. Aside from closing businesses and schools, all residents are now required to work from home.

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Semiconductor Shortage May Not End Until 2024

According to Intel CEO, Pat Gelsinger, the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage will likely persist until at least 2024. This is a tragic prediction considering how much the current shortage is impacting equipment manufacturing.

Gelsinger previously expected the shortage to resolve by 2023. However, in an interview with CNBC’s TechCheck, she revised her estimate, stating, “that’s part of the reason we believe the overall semiconductor shortage will now drift into 2024 from our earlier estimates in 2023. More shortages now hit equipment, and some of those factory ramps will be more challenged.”

So far, the semiconductor shortage has severely impacted global auto production, especially given the slew of other factors at work. In response, AutoForecast Solutions once again lowered its production estimates for 2022.

The company now expects production in North America and the Asia-Pacific region to fall by 2% to 14.82 million and 46.68 million units, respectively. In Europe, Western and Eastern  production estimates now stand at 11.16 million and 6.26 million.

UK Imposes 35% Duty on Russian Palladium, Platinum

Both palladium and platinum prices saw a modest lift following the UK government’s announcement of a new round of sanctions on Russia and Belarus. As part of the package, the UK will raise tariffs on products including platinum and palladium by 35%.

Russia produces around 40% of global mined palladium and almost 16% of global platinum. This makes the country the world’s largest and second-largest producer with respect to both precious metals. As such, the ongoing war in Ukraine and its effects stand as a leading driver for most of this year’s price fluctuations.

Indeed, both metals previously jumped in early April following a decision by the London Platinum and Palladium Market to suspend two major Russian-government-owned refiners.

MetalMiner’s free weekly newsletter provides up-to-date metal price intelligence on the impact of the war in Ukraine on metal prices and the Automotive MMI.

Actual metals prices and trends

  • The US scrap steel price rose 1% month over month to $606 per short ton as of May 1. Meanwhile, the US HDG price picked up by 2.36% to $1,906 per short ton.
  • US palladium bars rose 2.32% to $2,254 per ounce month over month. Platinum fell 5.25% to $938 per ounce.
  • The Korean 5052 coil premium over 1050 declined 4.83% to $4.53 per kilogram.

 

 

The Global Precious Monthly Metals Index (MMI) rose by 6.8% for this month’s reading. This represents the second month in a row of precious metals inswz increases. Last month the index increased by 4.1%.

Palladium, and to a lesser extent, platinum drove the index higher. Most of the other precious metals held flat or fell.

The palladium price rise this month may have more to do with the anticipated Russian invasion of Ukraine. Although MetalMiner has covered this geopolitical event through the lens of other metals, particularly steel and aluminum, Russia supplies 35% of the world’s palladium. Palladium, as opposed to platinum, has made its way into more newer cars. It has become the “precious metal of choice” for catalytic converters.

The increase in January’s Global Precious Metal MMI comes down to strong palladium demand from the automotive industry. Constrained supply also plays a role.

The Global Precious Metals MMI along with all inflation/deflation indexes from MetalMiner are available as a free monthly report.

Automakers will dictate where palladium and platinum go from here

Although some automotive shortages have eased, automakers give a cloudy view on production forecasts beyond the current quarter. Toyota and Honda, in particular appear cautious while Ford and GM appear more confident about production numbers.

The truck blockade of the Windsor Bridge, a key trade route between Canada and the US, dissipated Saturday only to continue as of press time. Nonetheless the blockade did impact inbound raw material supply to the automotive industry.

Gold – the real story

Now that the US military believes Putin has confirmed his intentions to invade Ukraine, gold looks particularly poised to rise based on technical analysis.  Silver too could follow in gold’s footsteps, should war ensue.

 Source: MetalMiner analysis of Trading View data

 Fed tapering

With tapering already in effect and more to come, gold watchers have likely anticipated falling prices. Moreover, rising interest rates have also historically put a damper on gold prices. But today’s markets look a bit different. Many metal prices have moved without explanation.

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Key indicators

MetalMiner’s own technical analysis/forecasting team has their eyes on the Russian/Ukranian situation, the VIX and key economic indicators such as housing starts, which have started to slow. These indicators and how traders respond to these will dictate where gold goes next.

Actual prices and trends

China palladium increased the most jumping early 23% to $83.33/gram from $67.83/gram. US palladium increased similarly, up 20.22% from $1845/ounce to $2218/ounce.

Silver fell .15% from $23.30/ounce to $23.26/ounce. Gold, meanwhile moved similarly at .15% from $1829.80/ounce to $1832.60/ounce.

 

An important source of precious metals — and in particular, Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) — is in a spiral of diminishing returns and could run out of cash in 2020 with consequences for metal supply and market prices.

Zimbabwe has been here before, it must be said.

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Ever since its corrupt and ineffectual leader Robert Mugabe was thrown out a shade over two years ago, the hope has been his replacement Emmerson Mnangagwa would enact reforms that would reverse the decline and root out corruption. While Mr. Mnangagwa has made some positive changes, unfortunately, his administration hasn’t shown the greatest competency.

Meanwhile, unable to pay for much-needed imports, the economy continues to spiral down. Importing more than it exports, Zimbabwe is facing dwindling foreign exchange reserves that threaten to choke off what remains of industrial activity.

More pressing even than the lack of fuel and spares is the impact it is having on the population, raising the prospect of further unrest — even outright insurrection — as Stratfor suggests in a recent Worldview report.

Fuel and food shortages spurred angry protests that ended in a violent security crackdown in January 2019 and while the government prioritizes what funds it has to pay off, the military’s rank and file, whose support is crucial to the administration staying in power, is suffering along with the rest of the population.

Government workers have begun demanding either pay raises or payment in U.S. dollars, according to the Stratfor report. The country’s junior doctors have been on strike since early September and were recently joined by senior doctors as well. Teachers, meanwhile, have also limited work to just two days a week and the risk of significant widespread unrest grows.

Zimbabwe’s mining sector has been in gradual decline for years, the government has been desperate to encourage more value-add refining at home but every step it takes – like enacting export bans similar to Indonesia – has backfired, creating greater trade imbalances as desperately needed exports have been blocked.

The country’s largest export is actually tobacco, making up nearly half the $1.93 billion of exports in 2017, the last year data was available, but metals make up a sizable portion of what is left.

Precious metals make up $145 million, ferroalloys make up $172 million and chromium ore makes up $122 million. Some ore goes for refinement to South Africa, but Zimbabwe’s largest export market by far is China, accounting for 44% of exports, according to the OEC.

If PGM exports were disrupted due to extended public unrest, the platinum supply market would still function. Zimbabwe’s production at some 11 tons per year is a tenth of South Africa’s 110 tons and only half Russia’s 25 tons, but it remains more than the U.S. and Canada combined, so any serious disruption would create support for higher prices next year.

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The same goes for palladium, which has broadly tracked above platinum this year and rhodium, which has already performed strongly on the back of emissions regulation changes, as this graph courtesy of Johnson Matthey illustrates.

Source: Johnson Matthey

Zimbabwe has increasingly faced a precarious future. Once the stable and prosperous breadbasket of Africa, it has progressively slid into decline under corruption and misrule.

Despite the hopes of 2017 after Mugabe was dethroned, it looks as the next year could be its most testing challenge yet.

It looks as though the winter is just heating up for the Global Precious Monthly Metals Index (MMI).

The sub-index tracking a basket of gold, silver, platinum and palladium prices from four different geographies rose three points to hit 90 for the January reading — a 3.4% increase — driven by a still-hot palladium price.

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The U.S. palladium bar price broke the 1,200-per-ounce barrier to start the month, ending at $1,252 per ounce to begin 2019. That represents a three-month uptrend. Meanwhile, the gold price reclaimed its premium over palladium, settling at $1,282 per ounce to begin the month.

U.S. silver also rose, while platinum dropped in the U.S. and Japan.

Palladium Outlook Looking Even Better With Hybrid Vehicle Demand

As we wrote last month, while supply from major producers including Russia and South Africa is not growing, global automotive palladium demand is expected to achieve a new record high in 2018 of around 8.5 million ounces, according to precious metals consultancy Metals Focus as reported by Reuters.

That conspires for the high price bubble of the formerly junior PGM of late. However, that may not last.

“This increases the potential for correction,” Commerzbank is quoted as stating in a recent outlook report. “We expect a price correction [for palladium] to begin in the course of the first quarter of 2019.”

After correcting, the bank expects the price should to “resume its upswing,” forecasting a price of $1,100 per troy ounce by the end of 2019, it is quoted as saying.

Other analysts agree with that general take, but that doesn’t mean that the longer-term demand outlook isn’t still strong.

According to Anton Berlin, head of analysis and market development at Norilsk Nickel PJSC, as quoted by Bloomberg, “combined palladium use in hybrid and plug-in hybrid — or rechargeable — vehicles next year will be nearly triple that of 2016.”

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Analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. agree. “Hybrids are forecast to grow from just 3 percent of global market share in 2016 to 23 percent of sales by 2025,” stated a late-2018 report by the bank, according to Bloomberg.

Our Global Precious Metals MMI inched up a point in April. However, this year the index seems to be struggling near 84 points. Let’s take a look at gold and palladium, two of the precious metals integrated in this index, to better understand the ongoing trend in precious metals.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

Gold

Some analysts are saying that gold is up this year on its safe haven appeal due to rising geopolitical instability. But that’s simply not true. Otherwise, we would see it reflected in stock market indexes, which are trading at record highs. Not only the U.S. but also Europe, China and other emerging markets are seeing their stock markets hit multi-year highs. Investors are confident about the prospects for the global economy, and until something proves them wrong, gold is lacking any appeal as a safe haven.

Gold CME contract. Source: MetalMiner analysis of stockcharts.com

If you held gold this year, don’t thank rising political tensions; simply thank a weaker dollar and some dip buying. This year’s rally in gold follows a 18% price slump in Q4 of last year. But prices are back to their average and just 8% below $1,380/oz, a level that has been a ceiling to gold prices for four consecutive years. This means that investors will have to find good reasons to chase prices higher. Given the ongoing strength across global stock markets and the rather neutral picture of the dollar, we wouldn’t expect gold investors to get a good return on their money for the balance of the year.

Palladium

As I’ve written earlier on MetalMiner, “palladium prices rose to a two-year high in April, making it the biggest gainer among precious metals. Last month we outlined some of the factors contributing to the palladium price rise: a growing auto sector; a strong South African currency; a falling dollar; and bullish sentiment across industrial metals. However, as prices continue to climb, it’s time to question how high prices can go. Despite a still solid outlook, there are some reasons to believe palladium prices could be nearing their peak.”

One of them is a potential slowdown in demand for cars. U.S. car sales declined in April, following a disappointing month of March. Markets suspect that the car industry boom that has run since 2010 has now come to an end.

Meanwhile in China, car sales are still going strong, but the pace is not the same as last year. As I wrote before, “weaker sales tax incentives have put pressure on demand this year and are expected to slow down demand even more next year. Buyers of cars with engines up to 1.6 liters paid a 5% purchase tax last year, but they are now paying a 7.5% rate. Buyers are still finding incentives to rush on buying cars this year since the rate will increase to 10% in 2018.”

Palladium nears long-term resistance levels. Source: MetalMiner analysis of stockcharts.com data

Finally, as with the case of gold, palladium might need the stronger fundamentals to lure investors to chase prices higher. Historically, palladium has peaked in the range of $850-$900. Prices closed in April at $827.

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What This Means For Metal Buyers

Precious metals gained this year, but gains won’t come easily from now onwards. The opportunity to buy or invest in precious metals might have passed by.

Read more

Palladium has been the best performer among precious metals for some time now. Since the beginning of 2016, palladium is up 65%, easily beating the price increases seen in platinum, gold and silver.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

What factors made palladium outperform its peers and what should palladium buyers pay attention to this year?

Global Demand for Cars

According to Inside Advantage’s Outlook 2016 report, “the primary bullish factor might be the expansion of auto catalyst demand for palladium, particularly in China where air pollution problems are increasing. The auto sector accounts for around 80% of palladium demand.”

Chinese car sales for the first two months of 2017 beat expectations and were 8.8% higher compared to the same period in 2016. According to a Market Watch report, the pace is still weaker than the 14% increase reported last year by the industry as tax incentives urged customers to buy cars. In Q4 of 2016, China announced a 50% cut in its sales tax from 10% to 5% for small automobiles. The tax cut was effective until the end of 2016.

Most analysts were expecting a big slowdown in the largest automobile market this year, but China continues to surprise markets. The country agreed to extend the cut, although at a higher rate of 7.5%. In 2018 it will revert to 10%. Therefore, while auto sales might not beat the high levels reached last year, Chinese citizens will still likely take advantage of a lower tax in 2017.

According to a recent Reuters article, “March’s figures for the world’s second-largest automotive market came in below market expectations and gave early evidence that the growth in America’s car sales may be running out of steam. Sales in March fell by 1.6% compared with the same month a year ago.”

Overall, auto markets were really strong in 2016, contributing to a 50% rise in palladium prices last year. This market might surprise again in 2017 but signs of a plateau in the U.S. and uncertainties in China due to an extended but higher tax cut are factors to watch this year.

Strong South African Currency

South African Rand Index. Source:MetalMiner analysis of @stockcharts.com data.

South Africa is the largest producer of palladium, and controls around 40% of world output. The Rand (South African currency) has been one of the best performing currencies since 2016. A rising Rand makes South African exports more expensive to the rest of the world, limiting producers margins and potentially leading to a reduction of output. Read more

Automakers sold 1.33 million vehicles in the U.S. in February, down 1.1% from the same month a year ago, as consumers continued to shift away from buying cars in favor of trucks and SUVs.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

Our Automotive MMI fell 4.3% as well, due in part to a pull back this month in steel prices, particularly the hot-dipped galvanized variety. There’s been plenty of analysis on our site about whether the steel price fall is merely a pause in an overall up trend or a sign of deeper issues in the individual North American product markets.

Automotive MMI

If major automotive products such as cold-rolled coil and HDG are, indeed, being squeezed then prices could increase quickly in the coming months as mills take advantage of short supply, even if more capacity comes online later in the year.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

The other products that make up the index are still firmly in bull market territory with copper leading the way.

The other major automotive consumer market that creates supplier demand is China’s, the world’s largest automotive market. It saw auto sales decline by 1.1% year-on-year in January  to 2.2 million units. Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, however, came in 0.2% higher year-on-year to 2.5 million units. Some of these numbers could be affected by the Lunar New Year holiday. China is also entering the planned final year of a major government automotive purchase rebate which could affect sales as the incentive winds down.

Actual Automotive Metal Prices

U.S. Hot-dipped galvanized steel fell 1.5% from $841 a short ton in February to $828/st this month. U.S. Platinum bars increased 2.92% from $993 an ounce in February to $1,022 an ounce this month. Primary three-month LME copper increased .08% from $5,930 per metric ton in February to $5.935/mt this month.

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