Palladium Rises 15% as Russian Shipments Drop
Source: Bloomberg, Nicholas Larkin (3/1/11)
"Declining stockpiles may drive palladium prices 15% higher by December."
Cargoes to Switzerland, one of Europe's two main hubs for storing and trading precious metals, fell 12% to about 500,000 ounces last year and compare with the 20-year average of 1.3 million ounces, Swiss customs data show. Fewer shipments of the metal used in almost every catalytic converter may mean shortages. The five analysts ranked by Bloomberg as the most accurate over the past two years forecast prices as high as $940 an ounce in 2011, based on the median of their estimates.
While Russian stockpiles are a state secret, Johnson Matthey Plc, the London-based trader, says they were the fourth-largest source of supply in 2010. Swiss customs data includes ingots, powder and half- processed material, mostly brought in by air freight. Bars are stacked on pallets, according to Geneva bullion refiner MKS Finance Senior VP Afshin Nabavi, which trades the metal. It is transported in plastic pots when in powder form, said Johnson Matthey's Bedford.
OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, the biggest producer, said in December it expects "insignificant" amounts from reserves and Standard Bank Group Ltd. forecasts stocks will be depleted as early as this year.
"The palladium market, excluding any Russian stockpiles coming in, is going into an ever-increasing deficit," said David Davis, a mining investment analyst at Standard Bank's SBG Securities (Pty) Ltd. in Sandton, near Johannesburg. "It'll put upward pressure on the price."
The metal traded at $817.25 at about 7 p.m. yesterday in London. Prices hit a record $1,125 in 2001 when shipments were disrupted.