January 28, 2015 / 1:51 AM / in 4 years

Palladium to outperform in 2015 as platinum deepens losses: Reuters poll

LONDON (Reuters) - Palladium is poised to outperform again in 2015, with prices seen rising six percent even as the wider precious metals complex struggles, a Reuters survey showed on Tuesday.

An employee places marked ingots of 99.97 percent pure palladium at the Krastsvetmet nonferrous metal plant in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin

Palladium’s sister metal platinum is facing a third year of losses, however.

Respondents to a poll of 32 analysts, traders and other market participants conducted earlier this month forecast that palladium prices would average $845 an ounce this year, up from $799 an ounce in 2014.

Palladium is forecast to extend those gains to average $900 an ounce in 2016.

The metal, widely used in autocatalysts, is expected to benefit from robust demand for new cars, investment buying, and threats to supply in both South Africa, which has seen a wave of strikes in recent years, and sanctions-hit Russia.

“Of the four metals, palladium remains once again our firm favorite,” Sharps Pixley chief executive Ross Norman said.

“We foresee another positive year for palladium based upon attractive supply/demand fundamentals, despite the backdrop of a relatively weak global economy.”

He saw an ongoing supply deficit in the order of 1.4 million ounces.

Palladium outperformed other precious metals to rise 11 percent in 2014, but has failed to keep pace with the sector’s gains so far in January, easing nearly 2 percent as gold hit five-month highs and platinum looked set for its best month in nearly a year.

Respondents to the poll expected platinum prices to average $1,309 an ounce, down 5 percent from last year. Declines are also forecast for gold and silver prices.

Platinum and palladium are both largely used in catalytic converters, but platinum is more heavily exposed to the beleaguered European market, as a heavier loading of the metal is used in the diesel cars favored there.

“The platinum price is driven by industrial demand, and until there’s real manufacturing and consumer spending growth in both established and emerging markets, the price will likely remain flat,” David Beahm of Blanchard and Company said.

The metal failed to benefit significantly from an unprecedented five-month strike among platinum miners in South Africa last year. The country is the source of around three-quarters of global platinum supply.

The respondents to the poll forecast a rebound in platinum prices to $1,480 an ounce in 2016, in line with a rising gold price.

The platinum:palladium ratio, which measures the number of palladium ounces needed to buy an ounce of platinum, is expected to remain depressed after hitting a 12-year low at 1.46 last year.

“The ratio might stabilize, but the risk premium argues to maintain overweight in palladium versus platinum,” Peter Fertig, a consultant at Quantitative Commodity Research, said.

Reporting by Jan Harvey; Editing by Veronica Brown and Michael Urquhart

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