Posted by on September 1, 2017 10:50 pm
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Categories: Australia Auto Sales Basic Element Business Chemical elements China Congress Debt Ceiling eastern Ukraine Economy European Union Ford India japan Matter Native element minerals Norilsk Nornickel north korea Oleg Deripaska Palladium Precious Metals Rusal San Francisco consulate Switzerland Transition metals Ukraine Vladimir Putin

Amid hope for reinvigorated auto production (after Hurricane Harvey’s destruction) and yesterday’s escalation in US-Russia tensions (Russia being the world’s largest producer), spot Palladium is spiking today, hitting its highest since record highs in January 2001.

While the entire gamut of industrial and precious metals have been rising recently (the latter on the back of Chinese demand hype), Palladium prices exploded today out of nowhere (biggest jump in 7 months).

Pushing the precious metal to its highest in 16 years…

There appear to be a few catalysts for the recent trend and today’s spike…

1. China’s commodity panic-buying trend

There just appears to be blind panic-buying momentum from China in any and every industrial metal and along with gold prices surging amid North Korea and debt ceiling drama, we suspect Palladium is catching a bid on the back of that.

2. Renewed hopes for growth in the auto sector

As Bloomberg notes, approximately 67 percent of palladium produced is used in catalytic converters, which convert up to 90 percent of the harmful gases in automobile exhaust to less noxious substances. Global auto sales, up 4 percent for the year, are driven by a global increase in SUV sales, the ongoing shift from diesel to gasoline engines in Europe (diesel engines alternatively use platinum), and tightening emission legislation.

Sales of autos fueled by petroleum have been particularly strong in China and India. According to Jeffrey Christian, managing partner of CPM Group, car sales in China have been “borrowed” from future years through the offering of rebates and tax cuts. In the first half of the year, auto sales in China rose 4.3 percent, to 13.4 million units, from a year earlier.

US Auto sales just collapsed though…

ZH: And the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey is prompting companies like Ford to discuss increasing production once again.

3. Tighter supply due to Russian sanctions

Russia is the world’s largest supplier…


Bloomberg notes that on Aug. 2, Congress passed a bill approving new sanctions on Russia in response to its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as its human rights violations, annexation of Crimea, and military operations in eastern Ukraine. The measure substantially reduces the president’s power to waive or ease certain sanctions without congressional approval.

The bill lists 12 types of sanctions that can be imposed on people and entities that, for example, conduct “significant” transactions with Russian defense and intelligence agencies and invest or facilitate the investment of $10 million or more in the privatization of any state-owned asset that unfairly benefits government officials or their associates.

So far, Russia has been able to maintain stable palladium supplies in the face of international political issues. Yet since 2014, a bloc of nations — including Switzerland, Japan, Australia and Canada, as well as the European Union — has imposed sanctions against Russia.

Norilsk Nickel, a public joint stock company, is the world’s leading producer of palladium and nickel. Its key shareholders are two powerful Russian oligarchs: Vladimir Potanin’s Interros and Oleg Deripaska’s Rusal. Each reportedly owns more than 25 percent of shares. Interros Group is one of the largest private investment companies in Russia. Deripaska has close ties to President Vladimir Putin and a connection to the American political consultant Paul Manafort, whom Deripaska employed from at least 2005 to 2009.

Norilsk Nickel reported that its palladium production fell 2 percent in the first half of the year from a year earlier, to almost 1.3 million metric tons. CPM’s Christian indicated that Norilsk’s stockpiling in the first quarter likely contributed to the tight market in May and June.

Although markets are fairly balanced, showing a small surplus, Norilsk said palladium consumption is expected to reach an all-time high of 10.8 million ounces, and is forecasting a deficit this year of more than 1 million ounces.

ZH: And additionally yesterday saw an escalation in tensions between US and Russia as the state department ordered the San Francisco consulate closed… prompting angry responses from Moscow – and perhaps retaliation.

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We suspect the latter two are the most critical factors for today’s spike.

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