Platinum and palladium will continue to face different outlooks this year with platinum expected to record its eighth consecutive year of gross surplus while palladium is likely to expand the gross deficit recorded in 2011.
The forecasts were included in the Platinum & Palladium Survey 2012 published today by precious metals consultancy Thomson Reuters GFMS and launched at events in London and Johannesburg.
“The fact that platinum prices remained elevated over much of last year – enabling a new all-time high in annual average terms of $1,722 – was testament to broadly favorable investor sentiment, evidenced by a 12% rise in world investment demand ,” Philip Klapwijk, global head of metals analytics, said in comments prepared for the London event.
An expected rise in gold investment in the second half of 2012 is expected to spill over into the platinum market with prices likely to find support from production cost pressures in South African mining, the analysts said. But the ongoing euro-zone crisis also presents major downside risk because of the concentration of automotive catalyst production in Europe, they noted.
The analysts said they expect platinum’s price to trade in a range of $1,475 to $1,775 over the rest of this year.
The survey estimates that platinum’s gross surplus fell by 12% last year to 735,000 ounces ( 22.9 tonnes), which analysts noted was still substantial by historical standards. The narrowed surplus was credited mainly to an almost 7% rise in fabrication demand to a three-year high.
GFMS said the gains in demand were broadly based and led by a recovery in Chinese jewelry offtake as prices declined late last year. Retail investment also recorded sizable gains led by surging sales in Japan as platinum traded below gold.
Automotive catalyst demand for platinum also increased 4% last year but was restrained by continuing substitution in favor of palladium, lackluster vehicle production in Europe and last year’s natural disasters in Japan. Platinum autocatalyst demand remained considerably short of pre-recession levels as a result, the analysts said.
The increase in fabrication outweighed a nearly 5% increase in global platinum supply in 2011 to result in the 12% decline in the metal’s gross surplus. Supply growth last year was driven by recovery of Canadian mine production as Vale’s operations returned to normal levels and mining ramped up at Lac des Iles.