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June 2005

We recently attended the Johnson-Matthey Platinum 2005 breakfast. At the breakfast, analysts announced that with demand and supply of platinum both expected to increase moderately, platinum’s price will stay around recent levels.

The report noted that supplies of platinum will expand in 2005, though by less than last year. But there will be increases in demand from the auto and industrial sector, and from China – particularly for jewelry. This means that supply and demand will stay relatively in balance.

For the first half of this year, platinum’s price averaged $864 an ounce. But in 2005, as in 2004, the actions of hedge funds and investors could have an effect. Johnson Matthey expects platinum to trade between $830 and $930 an ounce for the next six months.

Demand for palladium, however, is likely to be capped by excess supply. This is in spite of increased demand for palladium in jewelry: in fact, in 2004, jewelry demand for palladium rose nearly four-fold to 920,000 ounces. Johnson Matthey noted that palladium demand met the desire for a high purity white metal among consumers who cannot afford platinum.

The pallidium price, supported by hedge fund buying, hit a high of $333 in April 2004 but fell to $178 in December. Supply has increased so much that the prospect of a sustained rally in the price seems remote, Johnson Matthey says. They expect palladium to trade around $160 to $230 per ounce in the coming six months.

Among other interesting facts: Demand for platinum in 2004 edged up by less than 1% for the second year in a row, rising by just 50,000 ounces to 6.58 million ounces. However jewelry demand fell by 12% to 2.2 million ounces. Manufacturers in China reduced purchases to just over 1 million ounces in reaction to the high and volatile prices in March and April 2004, when platinum reached $937 per ounce. 

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