Platinum tumbles 7 pct on weak demand, dollar

LONDON - Platinum slid nearly 7 percent and palladium by more than 5 percent on Friday as a spate of poor results from the automotive sector and a rising dollar triggered a sell-off of the precious metals.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Fri 1 Aug 2008, 10:40 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:47 AM

Gold and silver also slipped, albeit less dramatically, as the dollar firmed in the wake of better-than-expected U.S. jobs data.

Spot platinum XPT was down at $1,658/1,678 an ounce at 1407 GMT from $1,749.50/1,769.50 late in New York on Thursday. Earlier it touched a session low of $1,629.00, its weakest level since January 25.

Among other precious metals, spot palladium fell to $361.00/369.00 an ounce from $379.50/387.50 on Thursday. It touched a seven-month low of $356.00 earlier in the session.

"The combination of a stronger dollar and weaker results from automakers certainly was a knock-out blow for the platinum market," said Merrill Lynch metals strategist Daniel Hynes.

Fears over the health of car makers, which consumes around 50 percent of the world's platinum each year, were fuelled after Germany's BMW issued a profit warning and Japan's Nissan missed quarterly operating profit forecasts.

Top U.S. car maker General Motors Corp posted a $15.5 billion quarterly loss on Friday, as North American sales dropped by 20 percent and plunging prices for SUVs prompted deep charges for its auto finance business.

Traders are awaiting U.S. car sales data for July, due later in the session, although most expect auto sales to be lower.

Figures from Spain released Friday showed its car sales fell 27.5 percent in July, while French sales also declined.

"We all know U.S. car sales forecasts are low, so there is some possible new interest in shorting the market (making bets on lower prices) today," one European metals trader told Reuters.

Bullion falls

Gold and silver prices also fell, pressured by a firmer dollar and weaker oil prices. The dollar strengthened in the wake of the closely watched monthly non-farm payrolls data.

"The lower-than-expected jobs loss number boosted the dollar as soon as it hit the wires and deflated gold further," said Jon Nadler, an analyst at Kitco Bullion Dealers. "The metal promptly lost $10 to fall to $903."

A stronger dollar tends to pressure bullion, as it crimps buying of the precious metals as an alternative investment.

Lower oil prices are also reducing gold's appeal as a hedge against inflation, and undermining interest in commodities as an asset class. Prices of oil, grains and base metals are lower on Friday.

Negative sentiment in commodity markets over the past month can be seen in the performance of indices such as the S&P GSCI and the Reuters-Jeffries CRB Index.

Gold fell to $907.40/908.40 an ounce from $913.45/914.65 an ounce on Thursday, when it had a volatile session, trading in a wide $20 range.

Silver was lower at $17.64/17.69 an ounce from $17.71/17.77.

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