Futures & Commodities

Palladium sets all-time high on supply angst; gold pares gains

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Palladium prices hit an all-time high on Thursday on concerns over tight supplies of the autocatalyst metal due to possible labour issues in South African mines, while gold shed earlier gains on fresh hints of progress in the U.S.-China trade dispute.

Palladium climbed 3% to $1,617 after hitting a record high of $1,621.55 earlier in the session.

"On a fundamental basis for platinum and palladium in particular there are the ongoing wage negotiations taking place in South Africa," said Suki Cooper, precious metals analyst at Standard Chartered Bank.

"It is not our base case that we expect there to be significant supply disruption, but given that the palladium market is already undersupplied, any incremental losses in production are likely to only tighten the market further."

South Africa's main platinum mining union said on Tuesday it had formally declared that wage talks with major mining companies were deadlocked, raising the possibility of strike action if the issue cannot be resolved.

Palladium, used mainly in emissions-capping catalytic converters for automobiles, has risen about 28% so far this year.

Meanwhile, gold pared early gains after a Bloomberg report said Trump administration officials have considered offering a limited trade deal to China that would delay or possibly roll back some tariffs, in exchange for assurances on intellectual property and agricultural purchases.

Gold was up 0.1% to $1,498.66 per ounce. U.S. gold futures settled up 0.3% at $1,507.40.

"Gold just hasn't been able to recover from that even though someone in the Trump administration came out with a denial," said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

A gauge of global stock markets touched its highest since late July on Thursday on hopes of progress in the U.S.-China trade dispute, sending bond yields off lows hit earlier in the wake of the European Central Bank's new stimulus measures.

Gold had gained as much as 1.7% earlier in the session after the European Central Bank cut deposit interest rates and relaunched quantitative easing, bolstering expectations for a dovish stance from the U.S. central bank at its meeting next week.

Silver fell 0.3% to $18.02 per ounce, and platinum gained 0.6% to $950.