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Palladium on its way to $3,000 as supply-demand imbalance grows - analysts

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(Kitco News) - A deepening fundamental supply/demand imbalance in the palladium market has propelled prices to new all-time highs. Analysts think this is the start of another bigger move with the potential for the precious metal to rise past $3,000 an ounce.

Tuesday, palladium hit a new all-time high of $2,962.50 an ounce. Prices have come off their recent highs, but analysts still say the market is in a strong uptrend. June palladium futures last traded at $2,932 an ounce, down 0.70% on the day.

For the year, palladium prices are up nearly 19%.

After a slow start in the first quarter, the palladium market is now the best performing precious metal so far this year.

Carsten Fritsch, precious metals analyst at Commerzbank, said that palladium is moving in line with other commodities like copper, which is seeing a strong upswing as the global economy continues to improve.

"The dynamism of the upswing makes it probable that the $3,000 mark will be put to the test in the coming days," he said.

The rally in this new uptrend started in mid-March when Russian mining giant and the world's largest palladium producer Nornickel said that mine closures due to flooding would reduce palladium production this year. The company said that it expected platinum group metals production to fall by 710,000 ounces.

"Palladium is facing its 10th successive year of supply falling short of demand, thus the positive market dynamics that could keep palladium in the spotlight longer than anticipated," said Frank Holmes in a recent note.

Alexander Zumpfe, precious metals trader at Heraeus, also said in a recent note that supply issues are not going away anytime soon, which will keep the market in a deficit and support the price.

However, the drop in mine supply is only half of the equation behind the new rally. Analysts note that growing car sales amid a global economy is increasing demand for the precious metal. Palladium is a critical metal in autocatalytic converters, which is used to reduce harmful emissions in gasoline-powered engines.

According to media reports, automakers reported sales increases across the board in the first quarter. General Motors said its first-quarter U.S. sales rose 3.9% to 642,250 vehicles. Ford reported a 1% uptake in overall sales for the quarter. Meanwhile, Mazda said its U.S. car sales increased 23% in the first three months of 2021, just to name a few companies.

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