Futures & Commodities

Palladium drops over 5% as investors lock in profits; gold subdued

An employee arranges one kilogram gold bars for a photograph at the YLG Bullion International headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, on Jan. 13, 2016.
Dario Pignatelli | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Palladium slumped more than 5% on Friday, erasing more than $100 per ounce in the session, as investors booked profits following a strong record run, while gold prices were subdued as investors remained on the sidelines ahead of the holiday season.

Spot palladium shed 5% to $1,839.47 an ounce, on track for its biggest percentage fall since early August.

"Palladium got so close to the $2,000 level and now the fact that it's broken down two days in a row, the pull back here shows that the technical in the market has taken over," said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures. "When the markets are overextended, the corrections tend to become pretty dramatic."

The auto-catalyst metal hit by supply deficit scaled an all-time peak of $1,998.43 an ounce earlier this week. Prices of palladium has risen about 46% so far this year.

Meanwhile, spot gold was little changed at $1,477.40 an ounce, but was on track for a modest weekly rise. U.S. gold futures settled 0.2% lower at $1,480.90 an ounce.

"There are concerns that the stocks are so hot right now. And there are investors who are buying gold as a backstop if that thing is to turn," Haberkorn added.

World stock markets touched record highs, while the U.S. dollar was set for its best week in six against a basket of currencies. 

Gains in bullion were limited after data showed U.S. economic growth edged up in the third quarter amid signs the economy more or less maintained the moderate pace of expansion as the year ended.

Recent positive economic data and optimism around the U.S.-China trade war has fuelled expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve is unlikely to cut interest rates again in the near future. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the United States and China would sign their so-called Phase 1 trade pact in early January.

Safe-haven gold has so far gained more than 15% in the year on global recessionary fears, owing to the 17-month trade war between the two largest economies. The likelihood that negotiations are proceeding smoothly has drawn some attention away from gold.

"Traders and investors are turning their attention to the upcoming holidays, including squaring their books, so trading interest and volumes are likely to wane the next couple weeks," Kitco Metals senior analyst Jim Wyckoff said in a note.

Platinum eased 2.2% to $913.64 per ouce, while silver rose 0.6% to $17.15 an ounce. Silver extended gains into a second week, up 1.4%.