Platinum ETFs Likely to Remain Elevated
Source: The Globe and Mail (12/1/10)
"Demand from catalytic converters expected to continue increasing."
A primary driver behind the expected elevated demand for catalytic converters made of platinum. According to the Wall Street Journal, Johnson Matthey, which controls nearly one-third of the market for platinum and palladium-coated catalytic converters, witnessed a 72% increase in sales of heavy-duty diesel catalytic converters during the first six months of the year as catalyst demand increased.
This demand is expected to remain elevated as the European Union follows the U.S. in imposing tougher heavy-duty diesel emission standards. Furthermore, demand for platinum in catalytic converters is expected to increase due to the metal's higher efficiency in absorbing diesel-engine emissions than its sister metal palladium, which is the catalyst of choice in gasoline-dominated automobiles.
In addition to an uptick in demand from diesel-fueled vehicles, growing world economies also will further demand for platinum. The metal plays a significant role in electronics in that it is used in the production of hard-disk drive coatings and fiber optic cables. As demand for personal computers remains elevated around the world and is expected to further increase as personal incomes rise in developing countries, demand for platinum will likely see positive support.
Further positive price support may also prevail from anticipated supply concerns. South Africa, the world's largest producer of the metal, is expected to see a decline in production due to shaky labor relations, safety considerations and the relative strength of the South African rand against the U.S. dollar.
At the end of the day, platinum has relatively strong fundamentals and increased demand of the metal will likely enable it to luster.