Platinum falls from record high, TOCOM hits record

Platinum drifted down from a record high in thin holiday-season trading on Tuesday, but the white metal stayed near highs as underlying sentiment was supported by concerns over tight supplies and robust industrial demand.

Tokyo precious metals rose to catch up with gains made during a public holiday in Japan a day earlier, with the benchmark platinum futures contract jumping to a record high.

Cash platinum was trading at $1,515/1,525 an ounce as of 1:40 a.m. EST, down from a record high of $1,526/1,530 per ounce reached late in U.S. trading on Monday.

Activity thinned down by late Asian trade as traders refrained to take new positions as both New York and London markets will be closed later in the day.

"Fundamentals are strong due to supply concerns in South Africa, while demand from the industrial sector is expected to stay strong," said Shuji Sugata, manager at Mitsubishi Corp Futures and Securities in Tokyo.

"Other precious metals prices are relatively strong, which are also keeping platinum prices supported," Sugata said.

Supply disruptions at some mines in South Africa, the world's top producer, have resulted in a deficit this year and are likely to leave the market in a deficit again next year.

Aquarius Platinum said last week it lost an attributable 250 ounces of platinum group metals a day due to a strike at its Marikana mine in South Africa.

Cash platinum was also supported as lease rates stayed at high levels. The lease rates usually rise whenever there is shortage in physical supply.

Tokyo traders said one-month lease rates was around 12 to 13 percent, compared with around 10 percent last week.

"Platinum is up because you simply cannot be holding short positions in this market condition when fundamentals are bullish," said a senior trader at a Japanese trading house.

The yen's dip against the dollar and the strength of cash platinum spurred active buying in Japanese platinum futures.

The key Tokyo Commodity Exchange platinum contract for December 2008 delivery hit a record high of 5,353 yen per gram.

The key TOCOM contract closed at 5,350 yen, up 86 yen or 1.6 percent from Friday's close. Tokyo financial markets were closed for a public holiday on Monday.

"Platinum prices in Tokyo were helped by the dollar's strength against the yen. But it was important to see them break through a record high today," Sugata said.

Gold drifted down, but the strength in platinum kept the cash price above $800 per ounce.

Gold was trading at $806.70/807.50 per ounce compared with $812.30/813.10 on Monday.

Japanese gold futures jumped in line with the cash price, but they were off session highs.

Benchmark TOCOM gold futures closed at 2,986 yen per gram, up 50 yen or 1.7 percent from Friday's close.

Palladium inched down to $356/361 an ounce from $357/358 on Monday.

Silver fell to $14.45/14.50 an ounce from Monday's late U.S. level of $14.52/14.57.

Precious metals prices at 1:38 a.m. EST

Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Turnover

Spot Gold 806.60 -4.80 -0.59 26.88

Spot Silver 14.45 -0.07 -0.48 12.45

Spot Platinum 1515.00 -11.00 -0.72 33.83

Spot Palladium 356.00 -1.00 -0.28 7.23

TOCOM Gold 2986.00 50.00 +1.70 22.13 68949

TOCOM Platinum 5350.00 86.00 +1.63 25.76 39459

TOCOM Silver 534.20 14.00 +2.69 8.29 2164

TOCOM Palladium 1328.00 25.00 +1.92 5.82 783

Euro/Dollar 1.4394

Dollar/Yen 114.15

TOCOM prices in yen per gram, except for silver which is in yen per 10 grams, spot prices in $ per ounce. ( Reuters )

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