April 17, 2014 / 10:30 AM / 3 years ago

PRECIOUS-Platinum drops as S.African wage offer eases supply fears

* S.African miners offer to raise wage, seek to end strike

* Gold seen vulnerable for more losses below $1,300

* SPDR posts 8.39-tonne outflow, biggest since December

* Coming up: U.S. precious market shut on Good Friday holiday (Adds comment, market details, updates market activities)

By Frank Tang and Clara Denina

NEW YORK/LONDON, April 17 (Reuters) - Platinum prices fell to their lowest level in more than two weeks on Thursday after South Africa's biggest platinum producers offered to raise wages for miners in a bid to end a 13-week-old strike that has curbed output.

Anglo American Platinum Ltd and Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd said they proposed a settlement offer to end the debilitating strike, South Africa's longest and most damaging mining strike in living memory.

The country produces 40 percent of global output for platinum, which is mostly used by the auto industry as catalytic converters or consumed as jewelry products.

Signs of progress in talks between the world's biggest platinum producers and the AMCU union representing its 70,000 striking members had already pressured platinum prices after they hit a one-month high at about $1,470 an ounce on Monday.

"The strike was last bastion supporting the bullish case for platinum this week. That was the only thing holding the market up," said Frank McGhee, head precious metals dealer at Chicago commodities brokerage Alliance Financial LLC.

Platinum was down 1 percent at $1,418 an ounce by 2:44 p.m. EDT (1844 GMT), reversing earlier gains prior to the news.

U.S. NYMEX platinum contract for July delivery settled down $9.10 at $1,428.70 an ounce, with trading volume about 30 percent below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.

Earlier Thursday, platinum prices were underpinned by supply worries after talks between the leaders of South Africa's striking AMCU union and the world's three biggest platinum producers appeared to fail.

Traders said the latest offer from platinum producers, which proposes to meet AMCU's demand to more than double miners' basic wage to 12,500 rand a month over the next three years, was able to allay fears of a supply shortage.

Year-to-date, platinum was still up 3.5 percent, largely boosted by strike worries and signs of improving global auto demand.

Palladium also reversed early gains, falling 0.4 percent to $795 an ounce.

Trading of U.S. precious metals will be shut on Friday for the Good Friday holiday.

GOLD ETF HOLDINGS DROP

Weaker platinum group metal prices also dragged down gold and silver prices.

Spot gold was down 0.6 percent at $1,295.01 an ounce. U.S. COMEX gold futures for June delivery settled down $9.60 at $1,293.90 an ounce.

Analysts said that gold's fall below the psychological $1,300 level triggered further selling by momentum investors.

"Gold may be susceptible to further near-term losses," said James Steel, chief precious metals analyst at HSBC.

The yellow metal came under pressure on signs of weaker investment demand. Holdings in the world's biggest exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, fell 8.39 tonnes to 798.43 tonnes on Wednesday, the biggest daily outflow since late December.

Silver prices were unchanged from Wednesday's close at $19.60 an ounce.

2:44 PM EST LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT

SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold JUN 1293.90 -9.60 -0.7 1292.80 1304.40 87,104 US Silver MAY 19.596 -0.038 -0.2 19.490 19.720 29,372 US Plat JUL 1428.70 -9.10 -0.6 1415.20 1442.30 10,266 US Pall JUN 807.10 4.80 0.6 796.10 808.40 4,757 Gold 1295.01 -7.39 -0.6 1293.83 1304.30 Silver 19.600 0.000 0.0 19.530 19.710 Platinum 1418.00 -14.05 -1.0 1417.50 1439.50 Palladium 795.00 -2.90 -0.4 797.00 806.50 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY

CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 98,992 173,822 175,546 16.02 0.14 US Silver 40,104 50,567 59,075 22.62 -0.85 US Platinum 10,346 14,160 12,279 16.99 -2.91 US Palladium 5,542 5,867 5,908 29.8 -2.28 (Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; editing by Jane Baird, David Evans, Marguerita Choy and Matthew Lewis)

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