Despite the news of a strike at Northam Platinum, platinum and palladium prices in April were weakened by heavy selling of gold positions in mid-month. 400 tonnes of gold were sold on the COMEX futures market, drastically impacting the pgm complex and triggering many sell orders on the way down. PGM prices recovered to some extent, supported by increasing investment in exchange traded funds, with platinum benefitting from the launch of an ETF by Absa bank in South Africa.
In a somewhat unsettled month, pgm prices were initially supported by supply concerns from southern Africa and good economic indicators from the USA. There was a sharp fall in both metals on the 20th as a result of technical trading moves arising from the banking crisis in Cyprus, which caused a divergence between gold and pgm prices. Platinum and palladium picked up strength in the final week of March after Russia and South Africa were reported to be discussing some form of co-ordinated marketing strategy for pgms.
Platinum and palladium prices in the first half of February continued to draw strength from concerns about supply. Dollar strength in relation to sterling and the euro weakened the gold price but the well-publicised problems in the South African mining industry and increasing tensions in Zimbabwe enabled pgm initially to resist the downward pressure. The sell-off in gold eventually weighed on prices, resulting in a sharp decline for both platinum and palladium from which platinum failed to recover; palladium, however, continued to get support from positive investor sentiment.
The pgm complex had spent most of December 2012 on the defensive in the face of year-end liquidation and the impending US "fiscal cliff" that, by automatically invoking spending cuts and tax increases, threatened to tip the USA into recession. After a last-minute deal was reached over the New Year which postponed the issue, markets breathed more easily, the dollar weakened and precious metals prices rose. Momentum increased prior to the release by Anglo Platinum of its long-awaited restructuring plans, and once the news was out that the major producer was proposing a significant cut in production capacity, the JM Base Price for platinum soared to a high for the month of $1702, in the process losing its discount to gold. The JM palladium price also increased on the news and was further strengthened by media reports of a diminishing Russian state stockpile.