Platinum prices jumped last week following an announcement from Anglo American plc that it would shut down several of its South African mines, ultimately removing about 400,000 ounces of the white metal from global markets. The company’s Anglo American Platinum unit (known as Amplats) would close the mines as a result of labor actions that cut annual production by about 12%. The total hit to global supply would be about 7% of 2012 supply.
The price of platinum has reached parity with gold prices again after more than a year of trailing the price of the yellow metal. The price for palladium, another of the platinum group metals (PGMs), now totals about 42% of the platinum price after languishing for years at around 26% of the platinum price. That’s good news for Stillwater Mining Co. (NYSE: SWC), the only US-based producer of platinum and palladium. Demand for palladium is closely related to automobile manufacturing because the metal is used in catalytic converters.
There are a number of platinum and palladium ETFs that offer a play on platinum as well. The ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (NYSEMKT: PPLT), the ETFS Physical Palladium Shares (NYSEMKT: PALL), the ETFS Physical Precious Metal Basket Shares (NYSEMKT: GLTR), the UBS E-TRACS Long Platinum Total Return ETN (NYSEMKT: PTM), the PowerShares DB Precious Metals Fund (NYSEMKT: DBP), and the iPath DJ-UBS Platinum Total Return Sub-index ETN (NYSEMKT: PGM).
The ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (NYSEMKT: PPLT) currently trades around $166.52 in a 52-week range of $135.80 to $171.46.
The UBS E-TRACS Long Platinum Total Return ETN (NYSEMKT: PTM) trades today at $19.39 in a 52-week range of $15.61 to $23.98.
The iPath DJ-UBS Platinum Total Return Sub-index ETN (NYSEMKT: PGM) trades at $38.40 in a 52-week range of $31.20 to $40.55.
The ETFS Physical Precious Metal Basket Shares (NYSEMKT: GLTR) currently trades at $95.89 in a 52-week range of $83.25 to $105.25.
The PowerShares DB Precious Metals Fund (NYSEMKT: DBP) trades at $58.25 in a 52-week range of $50.18 to $ 63.80.
The ETFS Physical Palladium Shares (NYSEMKT: PALL) trades at $71.50 in a 52-week range of $54.74 to $71.76.
Stillwater Mining trades at $14.25 in a 52-week range of $7.47 to $15.24. Stillwater is also getting pressure from investor Clinton Group Inc. to replace the company’s CEO and make other changes to the board of directors.
It’s harder to predict how high platinum or palladium prices will rise in relation to gold because neither is particularly viewed as a safe haven asset. Gold prices are rising as governments continue to stimulate their economies and central banks continue their purchases of gold.
Gold prices are seen by many to hit an all-time high around $1,800 later this year. Platinum, even given its lower forecast production, isn’t likely to keep up that pace.