Russia's RTS exchange will launch trading in platinum and palladium futures contracts from April 15, adding to existing contracts on gold and silver , the exchange said on Tuesday.

The contracts are initially for three and six months and will be settled in cash based on the morning fixing on the London Platinum and Palladium Market, RTS said in a statement.

The futures are targeted at major manufacturers and consumers interested in hedging risk related to the fluctuation of precious metal prices, it said.

The new derivatives can also be combined with the gold and silver contracts into commodity investment funds to gain immediate exposure to a basket of precious metals, RTS said.

RTS started trading derivatives at its FORTS unit in 2001.

It currently trades 48 different contracts, including 31 futures and 17 options on shares of Russian companies, bonds, short-term interest rates, currency, the RTS Index, oil, silver, gas, sugar and gold.

Russian miner Norilsk Nickel (GMKN.MM: Quote) is the world's largest palladium producer. The country is also the second-largest platinum miner after South Africa. (Reporting by Aleksandras Budrys, Editing by Peter Blackburn)

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