Palladium bullion trading above platinum
- Published: Oct 10, 2018, 6 AM
The spot price of palladium is above that of platinum for the first time in 17 years, but both are trading below gold.
The closing London PM spot price for palladium reached $1,066 per troy ounce Oct. 8, while platinum closed at $814. Gold closed at $1,186.95.
At the close of calendar year 2016, the gap between palladium and platinum was more than $200 per troy ounce, with palladium closing at $670 an ounce and platinum at $898 on Dec. 29, 2016. Gold closed at $1,145.90 that same day.
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On Dec. 28, 2017, the gap was closed to within $132 between platinum and palladium, platinum closing at $925 and palladium at $1,057. Gold closed at $1,291.
Platinum and palladium are both platinum group metals, with palladium often derived as a byproduct of platinum mining. Both platinum and palladium are auto catalysts, used to clean emissions from gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. Palladium is also a byproduct of nickel mining.
Three platinum group metals — platinum, palladium and rhodium — are used in the manufacture of catalytic converters. Between 3 and 7 grams of platinum are used in a catalytic converter, with the amount of the other two metals varying depending on the make and model of the vehicle. Rhodium is the rarest of the three and currently the most expensive, closing at $2,575 per ounce Oct. 8.
The only time platinum came close to that spot price was March 4, 2008, when the closing spot settled at $2,273 per ounce, palladium at $582 and gold at $984.75. In December 2008, historical market data shows that rhodium hit the $10,000 an ounce mark.
While the platinum group metals have multiple industrial uses, “palladium bullion as an investment is a relatively new phenomenon when compared to the adornment and monetary history of silver or gold,” according to Kitco.com.
Once a nuisance
“The all time palladium price record occurred near the end of the Dot-com bubble on Jan. 26, 2001,” according to Kitco.com. “That day palladium hit a record price high of $1,094.00 oz USD in the AM London Fix. The same morning of the US dollar palladium price high, the AM palladium fix was more than 4 times the AM gold fix ($264.50 oz), almost 2 times the AM platinum fix price ($616 oz), and over 225 times that day’s silver price fix ($4.78 oz).”
According to Kitco.com, palladium is a much rarer element than gold or silver, but has not been pursued as vigorously because of its high melting point of 2,731 degrees Fahrenheit and the difficulty in extracting it from the ground.
“The element palladium has an estimated Earth’s crust concentration of 0.015 parts per million (ppm),” according to Kitco.com. “In comparison, silver is found in 0.075 ppm, platinum at 0.005 ppm, while gold is estimated at 0.004 ppm in the earth’s crust.”
Because alchemists centuries ago could not generate the heat necessary to melt palladium, the element was considered a nuisance, according to Kitco.com.
“Prior generations of alchemists were not able to easily melt, refine, and solely isolate palladium nor appreciate its high value essence,” according to Kitco.com. “This high melting point of palladium was one reason Spanish explorers in the new world regarded it (and other high melt point noble metals like platinum) as mere nuisances in their quest to find new supplies of gold and silver in the Americas. They simply did not have the technology to burn a fire hot enough to identify and isolate palladium properly.”
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