Platinum prices rise to six-week high on South African violence

Platinum futures climbed to a six- week high on concern that clashes between police and striking miners will spread in South Africa, the world’s biggest producer of the metal used in pollution-control devices in vehicles.

South African police killed 34 striking workers at Lonmin Plc’s Marikana mine yesterday. Disputes between rival unions led to a six-day standoff with police, who said they acted in self- defense. Lonmin said it lost metal output equivalent to 15,000 ounces of platinum since rock-drill operators stopped working on Aug. 10.

“Platinum is rising on fears of a spread of further violence after yesterday’s tragic events, causing further supply-side disruption,” Steve Scacalossi, a New York-based vice president at TD Securities Inc., said in an e-mail. “Platinum is in the spotlight.”

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, platinum futures for October delivery rose 1.5 percent to $1,457 an ounce at 10:14 a.m. Earlier, the price reached $1,464, the highest for a most- active contract since July 6.

South African mining companies have been struggling with rising costs and falling prices. Before today, platinum dropped 21 percent in the past 12 months. Anglo American Platinum Ltd. is the largest producer, followed by Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Lonmin, based in Johannesburg.

Yesterday, trading in platinum futures on the Nymex jumped to an estimated 14,707 contracts, the highest since June 29.

Palladium futures for September delivery rose 2.2 percent to $596.10 an ounce. Earlier, the price reached $602.25, the highest since July 5.

On the Comex in New York, gold futures for December delivery fell 0.2 percent to $1,615.80 an ounce.

Silver futures for December delivery dropped 0.5 percent to $28.17 an ounce.

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