February 19, 2019 / 11:16 AM / 4 months ago

PRECIOUS-Palladium at record high, closes in on $1,500; gold gains

(Adds comments, details, updates prices)

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

* Palladium could climb further to $1,500/oz - analyst

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

By K. Sathya Narayanan

Feb 19 (Reuters) - Palladium hit a record high on Tuesday, moving close to $1,500, due to a prolonged supply deficit, while gold rose to a near 10-month high driven by concerns over slowing global growth.

Spot palladium, which traded as high as $1,491 per ounce, was up 1 percent at $1,472.14 at 1327 GMT.

The deficit will widen this year as stricter emissions standards increase demand for catalytic converters, autocatalyst manufacturer Johnson Matthey said last week.

“The palladium market is facing a substantially growing physical deficit ... driven more from the demand side due to rising automotive demand,” said Philip Newman, director at Metals Focus.

“Also, there won’t be a substitution from palladium to platinum as it is very difficult to achieve and takes a very long time to make sure it is compliant.”

Both metals are primarily used by automakers in catalytic converters, but 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 the impact of falling car sales across the globe.

“It’s very difficult to predict in a market which is very small, but we are nearing the $1,500 level, and reaching it is very likely as tightness in the market along with the (recent) dollar weakness is providing some lift,” Newman said.

Though the dollar was a shade higher, it held below a two-month high hit last week.

Meanwhile, spot gold rose 0.4 percent to $1,331.41 per ounce, having earlier hit $1,332.11, its highest since April 24. U.S. gold futures rose 1 percent to $1,334.80.

“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 European Central Bank. It looks like they (ECB) might change their policy to keep the real rates down.”

Adding to weak data from the United States and China, Japan’s central bank said it could increase stimulus measures if the yen’s strength hurts the economy, while an ECB official signalled interest rates would remain at current levels until monetary policy goals are met.

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

Among other precious metals, platinum was up 1.2 percent at $811.80 per ounce, while silver gained 0.4 percent to $15.86. (Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter)

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