Palladium eyes $1,500/oz in record surge; gold hits 10-mth high

(Updates prices)

* Palladium peaks at $1,491/oz, strongest on record

* Dollar slips on U.S-China trade optimism

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: http://tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

By Arpan Varghese and Eileen Soreng

Feb 19 (Reuters) - Palladium scaled a record peak to within striking distance of the $1,500 level on Tuesday fuelled by a sharp supply deficit, while gold climbed 1 percent to hit a 10-month high on a weaker dollar and global growth jitters.

Spot palladium was 1.9 percent higher at $1,484 per ounce by 2:12 p.m. EST (1912 GMT), having earlier soared to an all-time high of $1,491.

A sustained deficit in supply was likely to widen this year as stricter emissions standards increase demand for catalytic converters, Britain-based autocatalyst manufacturer Johnson Matthey said last week.

Adding to an already strained supply scenario for palladium, was the likelihood of an improvement in demand from the auto sector, given the expectations of a U.S.-China trade deal materializing, said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategies at TD Securities in Toronto.

"If we were already high and tight when the demand environment didn't look all that promising, we are certainly going to get tighter when demand improves," he said.

A new round of trade talks between Washington and Beijing was scheduled for Tuesday.

While both platinum and palladium are primarily used by automakers in catalytic converters, platinum is more heavily used in diesel vehicles, which have fallen out of favour since Volkswagen's emissions-rigging scandal broke in 2015.

Unlike platinum, palladium has benefited from the switch away from diesel engines and expectations for growth in hybrid electric vehicles, which tend to be partly gasoline-powered.

This has helped cushion the metal from falling car sales globally.

However, analysts said palladium has risen too fast too soon and was bound for a correction.

"Palladium is a bubble and is moving much above what fundamentals suggest," said Gianclaudio Torlizzi, managing director at consultancy T-Commodity in Milan.

Meanwhile, the dollar backed away from a two-month high hit last week on increasing optimism for a breakthrough in the trade talks, bolstering appeal for gold.

Spot gold gained 1 percent to $1,339.50 per ounce, having earlier touched its highest since April 20 at $1,341.78. U.S. gold futures settled up 1.7 percent at $1,344.8.

"We are getting more evidence of slowing (global) growth," said SP Angel analyst Sergey Raevskiy.

"There were some dovish comments from Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank."

Dovish signals from Japan's central bank and the ECB compounded worries over a global slowdown, and followed weak data from the United States and China.

Also, investors will scan the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy meeting on Wednesday for more guidance on interest rate increases this year. Higher rates tend to weigh on non-yielding gold.

Among other precious metals, platinum gained 1.8 percent to $816 per ounce, while silver rose 1.2 percent to $15.99. (Additional reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Marguerita Choy)

First Published: 2019-02-19 03:13:03
Updated 2019-02-19 21:28:59


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