Platinum and palladium both traded from unchanged-to-higher as buyers returned to that niche, despite the memo issued to US Toyota dealers by the automaker’s US manager, warning that all of Toyota’s US plants are facing shutdowns of various durations slated to take place this month, and that spot shortages of certain models will become a reality on US dealer lots. Toyota’s Japan-based plants are set to resume production next Monday but only at 50% of their previous output levels.
Platinum remained static at $1,779.00 per ounce, while palladium notched a $4 gain to reach $780.00 per ounce this morning. Meanwhile, US stocks were seen opening lower (87 points lower at last check) amid worries about Japan and about corporate earnings reports coming into the market. Aluminium giant Alcoa (traditionally the first “horse” out of the corporate earnings reports gate) reported strong Q1 results but its shares fell by more than 5% following what was being labeled as “disappointing sales.”
The most recent ABN AMRO/ Virtual Metals overview of the metals’ markets offers a bit of a mixed picture for the platinum-group metals space. Analysts at the bank opine that “while the PGMs will receive support from the investment activity in gold and silver, the widening challenges to the auto sector and elevated energy prices will dampen sentiment.” That said, the ABN AMRO team also feels that “the theme of dwindling Russian stocks of palladium will likely return to the fore of investors’ minds and propel the metal’s price in the coming months.”
The analytical team’s short-term London pm fix price targets for platinum are: $1,760/oz-$1,835/oz; and they are $760/oz-$840/oz. for palladium. The latter traded at a high of $858 in February of this year, but that was ahead of the natural disaster that took place in Japan. Since that time, the automotive sector has had to deal with a series of worrisome news related to production (and thus, to PGM demand) difficulties.
In the market background, oil continued to slip, albeit at a lesser pace than it did on Monday when traders were seen running for the exits following an IMF projection of slower growth for the US and for Japan – an assessment brought about in fact, by…rising-through-the-roof oil prices. The IMF also issued a fairly stern warning on the property bubble in China and in Hong Kong. Black gold dropped to the $108.35 per barrel mark this morning and this fourth daily decline in the commodity was also being aided by confirmation of news that Col. Gaddafi having agreed to a ceasefire at the urging of the African Union.
Also in the background, the US dollar fell 0.33 in mid-morning action and was quoted at $74.74 on the trade-weighted index after it had advanced to above the 75 mark on the heels of safe-haven-flavored bids overnight. The quests for such safety were prompted by the Japanese government’s raising of the nuclear threat level from the crippled Fukushima Daichi nuclear complex to the rating of 7. That grading places the crisis on even footing with the 1986 disaster that took place in Chernobyl, the Ukraine. The Japanese yen also showed gains during the night as it has been the currency to mostly benefit from crisis-induced safe-haven purchases since mid-March.