Why Palladium, and why now?
''The palladium market is revving up.
After lagging behind other precious metals for much of the year, prices for the white metal -- a key element in cars' catalytic converters -- are pulling ahead. Since the beginning of the month, palladium has risen almost 2%, hitting a one-month high on Friday.
That's a reversal from the first quarter, when palladium fell 0.3%.
Now, investors are anticipating a squeeze -- and higher prices -- amid predictions that demand will outstrip supplies in 2012 following a hefty surplus last year. Consumption is expected to rise because of a strong recovery in car sales in the U.S. and China. Meanwhile, Russia has signaled it will scale back sales of palladium from its strategic stockpiles, which accounted for 9% of global supplies last year, according to estimates.
Those factors already are luring speculators back to the market, further curtailing the metal's availability to industrial users.
'It is the most attractive story' among both precious and base metals, a category that includes copper and nickel, said Nikos Kavalis, a commodity strategist with the Royal Bank of Scotland. While copper also tends to rise when manufacturing activity picks up, its price is weighed down by big inventories in China.
Palladium futures on Tuesday closed down 0.5%, to $665.15 an ounce. RBS forecasts a surge in palladium prices to an average of $900 an ounce in the fourth quarter and $1,000 in 2013.''