National Jeweler Network

Market Developments

Metal prices expected to remain relatively steady

June 17, 2014

New York--Like the world’s stock markets, precious metals have entered a quiet period, with no huge price fluctuations anticipated and gold, silver and platinum expected to finish the year in line with analysts’ predictions. 

“There’s a lot less price risk in the market than there was in the past three or four years,” said Andrew Leyland, a London-based metals analyst with GFMS, Thomson Reuters. “It’s a quiet market. You are not seeing the multi-year run-up in prices. Prices are a lot more range-bound.” 

The price of the platinum has been fluctuating, though not wildly, year-to-date, sinking as low as $1,374 an ounce (Feb. 4) and reaching as high as $1,492 an ounce on May 22. (All prices given are based on the London PM fix as of Monday, June 16, as reported by Kitco.com.) 

As of the London PM fix on Monday, it stood at $1,441 an ounce. 

Leyland said the platinum price has been moving up and down due to uncertainty over the resolution of the mining strikes in South Africa, a nation that produced 74 percent of the world’s platinum last year. 

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, or ACMU, have been on strike since Jan. 23. Leyland said Tuesday that the union and the three producers, Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin, appear close to a deal, meaning the 5-month strike--the longest in the history of the country’s mines--should be nearing an end. 

He said while he doesn’t see much dramatic movement for the metal’s price in the coming months, he does expect its price to rise slightly toward the end of the year, nearing $1,500 an ounce, as pre-strike supplies run short and it takes the mines time to ramp up operations following the strike. 

Overall, he said platinum is expected to close the year where GFMS, Thomson Reuters originally predicted, with an average price of $1,474. 

Palladium, a platinum group metal, has seen its price climb steadily since mid-March. It hit $856 an ounce on June 11 after being as low as $707 an ounce earlier in the year (Jan. 31). 

Leyland said concerns about sanctions on Russian companies following the country’s intervention in Ukraine pushed up the price of palladium, as it fueled concerns over a shortfall in supply. Russia produced 42 percent of the world’s palladium last year.  

However, sanctions talk seems to be subsiding, and the metal’s price is expected to drop, finishing the year with an average price of $808 an ounce, according to GFMS, Thomson Reuters.

The per-ounce price of gold, meanwhile, has experienced an essentially steady decline, dropping as low as $1,242.75 (June 2) in the second half of the year. The yellow metal’s low for the year came early on, when it sank to $1,221 per ounce on Jan. 8.

Leyland said despite the unrest in Iraq--uncertainty in the Middle East can fuel the buying of gold as a safe-haven investment--and the threat of Argentina defaulting on its national debt, the price of gold is expected to decline slightly in the remainder of 2014 and finish the year with an average per-ounce price of $1,243, as previously predicted. 

“If the rest of the global economy is improving, there’s still argument to put money into equities and to put money into bonds,” instead of gold, Leyland noted. 

Silver prices also have been falling. Since peaking in mid-February, the metal’s per-ounce price has sunk as low as $18.76 per ounce, its lowest point of the year, and Leyland said he expects it to drop more in the coming months. 

Overall, GFMS, Thomson Reuters forecast of $19 an ounce for silver in 2014 remains unchanged. 

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Silver is coming off a year in which jewelry demand rose double digits. The metal’s per-ounce price averaged $23.79, its third-highest average on record, but still putting it well below the price of other precious metals, making it a popular pick for price-point-oriented jewelry.