Investors are loving rhodium.
The rare precious metal, typically used in automobile exhaust
systems to make emissions more clean, has a surging spot price.
According to Kitco, the unsung metal’s monthly
average price in March 2017 ($834.44) is 16.6 percent higher than
December 2016’s average ($715.45), and 40 percent higher than the
August 2016 average ($597.52).
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During the same time frame, gold has actually fallen, from a monthly
average spot price of $1,341.09 in August 2016 to a $1,217.98 average
in March 2017. The same is true for silver, with a monthly average
that has gone from $19.64 in August 2016, to $17.59 in March 2017.
So why the sudden spike in demand for rhodium?
Well, look no further than China.
Bloomberg reports that last year, Chinese
consumers purchased more automobiles than the previous three years.
And the Chinese automibile market still favors gas-fueled vehicles
that need the rhodium-based exhaust cleaning systems.
Jonathan Butler, a precious metals strategist at Mitsubishi Corp.,
told Bloomberg there are signs that Chinese car ownership levels could
match U.S. levels in the future.
Oh, and there’s also President Donald Trump’s desire to lower fuel-economy standards, which
could give a boost to gas-fueled vehicle production in the United
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Bloomberg reports, “This year’s advance compares with a 13 percent
gain for palladium and a 7.8 percent increase for platinum, which is
also used to curb car emissions. All three metals are mined together,
mainly in South Africa.”
With China’s gas-fueled car market still on the rise, one can bet
that rhodium will continue to be in demand. However, the Bloomberg
report explains, because it’s the smallest precious metal market, its
price is subject to volatile rises and falls.
That might be why its price rose by a factor of 23 between 2003 and
2008, ultimately reaching the $10,100 mark.