Palladium Breaches $900 per Ounce, Later Takes Steep Fall

For those who paid attention to predictions made by analysts at the beginning of 2014, palladium’s impressive performance this year should come as no surprise. 

From a January starting point of about $700 per ounce, the precious metal has consistently hit new highs, with palladium for December delivery, the most actively traded contract, reaching its most recent milestone this past Friday. Specifically, it rose $11.45, or 1.3 percent, to reach $909.55 on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), as per The New York Times.

That, as the news outlet explains, is the first time the metal has closed above $900 since February 21, 2001, and it happened as US and European leaders “said they would consider new sanctions against Russia.” Investors’ concern is that if that happens palladium “supply will be caught in the crossfire of economic sanctions between Russia and the West, with either side holding up access to the metal.”

Interestingly, the article states that when palladium last traded at this level it was because Russia had actually stopped exports of the metal.

The drop

Unfortunately for fans of palladium, while the metal was able to retain its gains on Monday, when it rose to $909, the same cannot be said for today. iNVEZZ.com notes that after climbing as high as $913 this morning, palladium for December delivery later sunk the most since June 12, hitting $881.55. Later in the day it was able to climb slightly to $886.50.

According to The Wall Street Journal, blame for palladium’s steep decline can be placed on a stronger dollar, which “snuffed out investor appetite for safe haven assets.” Unsurprisingly, other precious metals also suffered losses — gold fell this morning to an 11-week low of $1,261.80 per ounce and silver dropped to $19.09 per ounce, a far cry from yesterday’s high of $19.48. Meanwhile, NYMEX platinum for October delivery sank to $1,408.90 per ounce for its lowest close since April.

Fundamentals strong

Whether or not palladium will keep falling or move upward once again remains to be seen, but thus far one thing seems clear: investors shouldn’t count on Russia-related tension to keep the metal’s price up.

On that note, Platts quotes Mitsui strategist David Jollie as saying that though palladium’s “strong price performance is not overly surprising,” his firm “would question how much further these factors can lift palladium.” Similarly, in conversation with The Wall Street Journal, Frank Lesh, a broker and futures analyst with FuturePath Trading, reminded investors that “[p]alladium was bid up on thought that the Ukraine and Russia situation would bring about some kind of disruption, but we’re not seeing that yet.”

That said, palladium is far from being a lost cause. Platts also quotes Mitsubishi’s Jon Butler as saying that “palladium’s strength on a fundamental and technical basis is not in doubt and the medium term trend remains upwards.” He added, “I think it’s reasonable to have a price that’s hovering around the $900 an ounce mark.”

 

Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article. 

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