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Palladium holds above $1,400 on supply woes while gold price firms

By Reuters Staff

Palladium held above $1,400 an ounce on Friday after surging to record levels in the previous session on tight supplies and robust demand, while gold stood firm amid uncertainty around the partial U.S. government shutdown.

Spot palladium had risen 1 percent to $1,410.50 per ounce by 0337 GMT, having hit an all-time high of $1,434.50 on Thursday. The metal is on track to climb for a fourth week in its strongest weekly gain since the week ending Sept. 21. It has risen around 12 percent so far this month.

The price of palladium, used mainly in emissions-reducing catalysts for vehicles, is up nearly 70 percent since a low marked in mid-August. Prices for the metal overtook gold for the first time in 16 years early in December.

“This is the eighth consecutive year where palladium is going to be in deficit and there are no signs that it is going to go away,” said Dominic Schnider, head of commodities and APAC forex at UBS Wealth Management in Hong Kong.

“The question people need to ask here is how long it would take for the car manufacturers to switch to platinum, which is trading around $800.”

Holdings in palladium exchange-traded funds (ETFs) tracked by Reuters have nearly halved from January last year as people took delivery and sold or gave the metal for lease due to insufficient supplies, traders and analysts said.

Spot gold was steady at $1,292 per ounce, while U.S. gold futures were firm at $1,291.60 per ounce.

“Uncertainties around the U.S.-China trade war and the U.S. government shutdown are supporting gold prices,” said Brian Lan, managing director at dealer GoldSilver Central in Singapore.

“Also, the U.S. dollar did not react to conflicting reports about the removal of tariffs on Chinese goods, which is also leading to lack of movement in gold.”

A Wall Street Journal report on Thursday that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had considered easing tariff imposed on Chinese imports lifted broad market sentiment, although a Treasury spokesman later denied the report.

Spot gold was set for its fifth straight weekly gain, also supported by expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve may not raise interest rates this year and uncertainties around Brexit.

“(Gold) does need a trigger to spark it upwards, either in the way of a weaker dollar, renewed stumbles in U.S. equities or clearer indications of slowing U.S. growth,” said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.

Spot gold is due for a sharp move, as its consolidation within a neutral range of $1,285-$1,299 per ounce is ending, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

In other metals, platinum rose 0.3 percent to $807.50 an ounce, while silver was steady at $15.53.

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