March 24, 2020 / 11:08 AM / 5 days ago

PRECIOUS-Palladium soars, eyes best day in two decades on S. Africa lockdown

 (Updates prices)
    * Physical gold supply hit by Swiss refinery closures -
    * FACTBOX-Latest on spread of coronavirus globally
    * Silver jumps to one-week high

    By Brijesh Patel
    March 24 (Reuters) - Palladium surged 12% on Tuesday, on
track for its biggest daily rise since 2000 as major producer
South Africa locked down due to the coronavirus, while gold
soared over 3% as a fresh round of stimulus measures paused a
run for cash among investors.
    Autocatalyst metal palladium        rose to $1,930.79 per
ounce, while platinum        gained 6.2% to $682.04, also helped
by the 21-day shutdown.             
    "We believe this might provide significant support to
Platinum Group Metals prices in the short term," said Dmitry
Glushakov, Head of Metals & Mining Research at VTB Capital.
    "The country accounts for some 70% of global platinum mined
supply and 35% of palladium, with a 21-day lockdown possibly
resulting in a 4% and 2% of 2020 supply reduction respectively."
    Spot gold        was up 3.2% at $1,602 per ounce by 1200 GMT
and at its highest since March 13, having posted its best day
since June 2016 on Monday with a 3.7% rise.
    U.S. gold futures        climbed 6.7% to $1,672.60 an ounce,
and silver        was up 4.3% at $13.82 to a one-week high.
    "There's no longer pressure to sell gold to cover margin
calls and also, the U.S. dollar is a bit weaker," said
Quantitative Commodity Research analyst Peter Fertig.
    "If measures to tackle the impact of the virus show an
impact and the numbers of new cases decline, gold might rise as
some longer-term oriented investors buy it as an inflation
    European shares attempted another rebound as the fresh wave
of monetary and fiscal stimulus halted a global selloff in
equity markets.            
    The Fed announced unlimited quantitative easing and
programmes to support credit markets on Monday in a drastic bid
to backstop an economy reeling from emergency restrictions on
commerce to fight the coronavirus. The move triggered a dip in
the dollar.                   ]
    Goldman Sachs said inflationary concerns resulting from the
central bank policy response to the outbreak should underpin
gold this year as the "currency of last resort."             
    Global central banks have taken a range of measures to
mitigate the damage of the outbreak, which has infected more
than 377,300 people and killed more than 16,500 globally.
    Also propping up bullion markets was the closure of three of
the world's largest gold refineries in Switzerland due to the
outbreak that has squeezed supply of the physical metal, Stephen
Innes, chief market strategist at financial services firm
AxiCorp, said in a note.              

 (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru and Peter Hobson in
London; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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