* Platinum hits three-month high, regains premium over gold
* Amplats set to cut platinum output, seen to tighten
* Gold up after Bernanke remarks on weak US outlook
* Coming up: U.S. consumer prices Wednesday
By Frank Tang
NEW YORK, Jan 15 Platinum rose to a three-month
high on Tuesday, rallying for a sixth straight session as funds
bought heavily due to a mine labor crisis in South Africa that
sparked supply fears.
Platinum received a strong boost after Anglo American
Platinum plans to shut two South African mines and cut
14,000 jobs, risking a repeat of last year's violent strikes as
the world's largest producer of the autocatalyst metal struggles
to stem losses.
The move is expected to cut output by around 400,000 ounces
annually, or around 1 percent of total supply in an extremely
tight market due to strong demand by U.S. and Chinese
Platinum has rallied over 8 percent in just the last six
sessions, sending the metal into an overbought territory. The
surge in platinum also propelled prices above that of gold for
the first time in almost a year.
"Platinum is going to have continuous price appreciation
because there are some very serious labor issues that are not
going to let up at all," said Jeffrey Sica, chief investment
officer at SICA Wealth Management.
Spot platinum was up 1.3 percent at $1,676.50 an
ounce by 3:52 p.m. EST (2052 GMT), having earlier touched
$1,699.50, its strongest since Oct. 9.
Year to date, the metal is up almost 10 percent.
U.S. April NYMEX platinum futures settled up $31.70
at $1,689.90 an ounce, with trading volume nearly doubled its
250-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
On technical charts, spot platinum's relative
strength index (RSI) shot to 75, above 70 in an area
traditionally considered by analysts as overbought.
Platinum miners have been under intense pressure, hit by a
wave of strike action in the last year while contending with
rising operating costs and stubbornly depressed prices.
"Anglo Platinum will not be the last company to cut output,"
S.P. Angel analyst John Meyer said. "We would expect platinum
miners to pull back by 25 to 30 percent, which is going to have
a severe impact on prices."
Platinum was trading at a premium to gold for the first time
since March, after it traded at a historically unusual discount
to the yellow metal for much of last year.
GOLD, UP ON PLATINUM, BERNANKE
Platinum's rise lifted other precious metals, with palladium
hitting its highest since last March at $717.50.
Palladium was last at $707, up 0.9 percent on the day.
Gold prices also found support from a looming battle in
Washington over the government's borrowing limit, a day after
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke discussed the negative
economic effects of any failure to agree to a higher ceiling.
Spot gold was up 0.7 percent at $1,678.60 an ounce.
U.S. COMEX gold futures for April delivery settled up
$14.50 at $1,683.90.
Silver rose 1 percent to $31.33 an ounce.
3:52 PM EST LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT
SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL
US Gold FEB 1683.90 14.50 0.9 1666.20 1684.90 140,270
US Silver MAR 31.529 0.419 1.3 30.965 31.615 41,090
US Plat APR 1689.90 31.70 1.9 1654.00 1706.80 19,397
US Pall MAR 713.35 10.05 1.4 702.55 725.00 8,008
Gold 1678.60 11.80 0.7 1667.05 1684.90
Silver 31.330 0.320 1.0 30.990 31.480
Platinum 1676.50 22.25 1.3 1655.25 1699.50
Palladium 707.00 6.00 0.9 705.25 717.50
TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY
CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG
US Gold 157,940 144,717 174,184 14.25 0.37
US Silver 47,516 41,535 53,246 22.95 0.86
US Platinum 19,761 15,078 10,643 18.93 1.61
US Palladium 8,125 3,347 4,786