Could palladium follow platinum as the next favorite of the bullion complex?
''South Africa will dominate price moves in platinum this year, analysts with precious metals refiner and technology group Heraeus Holding GmbH said in a report. 'The only question is to what extent potential further labor action, electricity-price increases, electricity-supply disruptions and general instability have already been priced in,' they said.
Still, platinum demand 'remains soft,' Credit Suisse analyst Tom Kendall said, and the metal may struggle to hold its gains. Platinum is used in auto catalysts to scrub emissions, primarily from diesel engines. Its biggest market is Europe, where most economies are struggling.
Platinum's sister metal, palladium, is also used in auto catalysts but primarily for gasoline engines. Auto analysts expect robust growth in the U.S. and China this year. That outlook helped push palladium prices to a 10-month high on Tuesday.
Palladium for January delivery rose $10.05, or 1.4%, to settle at $712.60 a troy ounce, the highest since March. This year, platinum is up 9.6%, and palladium has gained 1.4%.
Gold is up 0.5% in 2013, under pressure as some investors anticipated the end of the Federal Reserve's monetary-easing effort. Minutes from the central bank's December meeting showed some central-bank policy makers favored ending the program before the end of 2013.
The Fed's bond-buying and previous easing programs have increased investor demand for gold as a hedge against the potential resulting weakness in the dollar. A raft of global easing programs following the 2008 financial crisis helped push gold prices to records, most recently in September 2011.''