Platinum Takes Limelight From Gold with Best Month in Four Years

(Bloomberg) -
Gold bullion and gold coins.
Gold bullion and gold coins.

A surprise rally in gold and silver caught the eyes of investors in the first half of the year. Now, platinum and palladium are shining brighter.

Platinum is up 11 percent in July, putting prices on track for the best month since 2012. Palladium is even better, jumping 17 percent, the most since 2008. By comparison, gold added less than 2 percent in July as it lost momentum after gains in the first half.

The two lesser-known precious metals, used in devices that control toxic car emissions, are benefiting from better auto sales in China, concern over labor in South Africa and loose monetary policy from central banks around the world.

“South Africa continues to be world’s largest producer of platinum and if anything goes south there, platinum could jump up,” Miguel Perez-Santalla, a sales and marketing manager at Heraeus Metals New York, said in a telephone interview. “For palladium, auto sales are very strong.”

Gold futures for December delivery rose 0.5 percent to $1,341.20 an ounce on the Comex in New York.

Platinum futures for October delivery rose 0.9 percent to settle at $1,138.90 an ounce at 1:08 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after touching $1,160, the highest in more than a year. The precious metal now leads gold futures for the year, with a 28 percent gain compared with bullion’s 27 percent.

Net-long positions held by managed money have climbed for at least the past three weeks in both metals, data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed for the week ended July 19.

Holdings in exchange-traded funds backed by gold increased 3.17 metric tons to 1,999.3 tons on Wednesday, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

In other metal news, palladium futures decreased Thursday, while silver futures gained 1 percent.