Platinum rallies to a 6-week high at 1618.2 in European session. Comments by Norilsk's Anton Berlin that palladium price should be supported by strong jewelry, industrial and new investment demand probably boosted others in the PGMs. In fact, the threat posed by disruptions in South African mines will be more severe in platinum supplies than palladium supplies as the country contributes over 70% of the world platinum production but around 35% of palladium production. Palladium remains firm but stays below the decade-high level at 481.95.
Gold and silver also gain ground today but outperformance in silver continues to drive the gold/silver ratio lower. It's a normal pattern for metals with strong industrial exposure to outperform gold during economic recovery.
Crude oil price edges higher but continues hovering below 82 as investors await release of inventory data. Gasoline price rises as API estimated stockpile dropped -3.2M bpd last week. Moreover, MasterCard Inc said that consumption for motor gasoline soared +2.5% w/w to 9.62M bpd in the week ended March. This is the highest level in 8 months. Forward curve also send a initial positive signal on gasoline market as RBOB gasoline for April delivery closed above that for May delivery on Monday, the first time since October 2009. This pattern encourages companies to sell their gasoline sooner rather than later.
On the macro front, the Chinese Customs reported +45% jump in imports in February, following an +86% increase in the prior month. While this signals robust Chinese growth, it may trigger the government to accelerate the pace of tightening.
In the UK industrial production surprisingly plummeted -0.4% m/m in January, compared with consensus of an increase of +0.3%, from +0.5% in the previous month. On yearly basis, the reading contracted -1.5%, which December's reading was revised down to -3.7%. This indicates the country's path to recovery remains fragile and slow. Together with persistent worries about huge budget deficits, the pound plunges against the dollar, for the third consecutive day. GBPUSD is approaching the 11-month low at 1.4783 made last week.