Commodity Price Cycle Bringing These Two Metals to the Forefront
The U.S. economy is certainly not running at 100% capacity, but one sector that is operating at levels not seen since before the financial crisis is the automotive industry. In March, automotive sales increased substantially to an annualized rate of 15.3 million vehicles per year, compared to 14.1 million vehicles this time last year. (Source: Bennett, J., “March U.S. New Car Sales Jump,” Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2013.)
American carmakers contributed with substantial increases, including General Motors Company (NYSE/GM), reporting a 6.4% year-over-year increase in March, and Ford Motor Company (NYSE/F), reporting a 5.7% year-over-year increase in March.
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Two derivatives of the strong automotive sector are the precious metals platinum and palladium. Generally speaking, platinum is used more for diesel engines, while palladium is used more often in gasoline engines. The increase in gasoline engines should, on the margin, increase demand for palladium versus platinum. With European vehicle sales slow, this should reduce demand for diesel engines.