‘Gold has been toppled as the most valuable precious metal’
Palladium has become the most precious of the precious metals, with prices topping gold Wednesday for the first time in 16 years as supplies remain tight amid strong automotive demand, traders and analysts said.
Spot palladium traded to a record high of $1,249.30 an ounce in overseas trading. Around 8:18 a.m. EST, the metal was up $20.50 to $1,246.55 an ounce. Gold was down $1.15 to $1,237.25.
“Gold has been toppled as the most valuable precious metal, as [the] demand-fueled rally over the past four months has driven palladium prices to record highs,” said a research note from commodities brokerage SP Angel.
Afshin Nabavi, head of trading at trading house MKS (Switzerland) SA, told Kitco News that there has been limited availability of metal, with the market as in backwardation. This is when nearby contracts are more expensive than deferred in any commodity. This is the opposite of the norm and is generally seen as a sign of supply tightness since users are willing to pay a premium to get metal right away. In fact, Nabavi described the backwardation spreads as “ridiculously wide” at times.
“The demand is rather high,” Nabavi said. “The Chinese have been good buyers of palladium.”
The biggest use for palladium is catalytic converters, with the metal historically used in gasoline-powered vehicles since – until a little more than a year ago – palladium was cheaper than sister metal platinum, which is required for diesel-powered cars. SP Angel reported that there has been a consumer shift from diesel- toward gasoline-powered cars, thus boosting palladium demand. While there has been conjecture that automakers may eventually substitute now-cheaper platinum for palladium in auto catalysts, so far they have not taken on this retooling, most observers say.