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Platinum hits record high
By Atul Prakash

Platinum hit an historic high on Wednesday as the market remained concerned about supplies from top producer South Africa following a power crisis that has hit mining operations there.
Other precious metals also advanced, with gold rising more than 2 percent to trade above $900 an ounce and silver gradually moving towards recent 27-year highs.
Spot platinum XPT=> rose as high as $1,819 and was quoted at $1,810/1,815 an ounce, against $1,770/1,775 late in New York on Tuesday.
The active U.S. NYMEX platinum contract for April delivery PLJ8> settled up $33.50 or 1.9 percent at $1,819.00 an ounce, after rising to a record peak of $1,822.60.
"It's the fundamentals capturing speculators' attention. Basically, there's not a lot of platinum around and no one wants to sell," said David Holmes, director of precious metals sales at Dresdner Kleinwort Investment bank.
"Once a metal is in play, upside potential is hard to call, but $2,000 is within reach," he added.
South Africa's government appealed to mining firms for help in cutting power consumption on Tuesday to ease a power crisis caused by the failure of electricity generation to match economic growth. ID:nL05318543
"The lack of spare power generating capacity in South Africa is not only affecting output in the short term but has the potential to delay new projects by months or even years," said Tom Kendall, metals strategist at Mitsubishi Corporation.
"Speculators have got this platinum bull by the horns and could easily drive the price towards $1,900. The market will remain very volatile at least until Anglo Platinum and Impala have released financial statements next week."
He said the platinum market was likely to see a deficit of at least 350,000 ounces this year and perhaps much more on top of last year's 375,000 ounces shortfall.
"They can talk about the American recession all they want. The only time I think these prices are going to come down is by a wave of profit taking. The South African problem is going to stay with us for a while," said Ralph D'Esposito, a floor trader with RJ Futures in New York.
GOLD BACK TO $900
Gold bounced back above $900 an ounce as recent drops attracted physical buyers and bargain hunters, analysts said.
Spot gold XAU=> rose as high as $907.20 an ounce and was at $903.10/903.8 by New York's last quote at 2:15 p.m. EST (1915 GMT), against $886.85/887.55 late in New York on Tuesday.
The COMEX April gold contract GCJ8> finished up $14.70 or 1.7 percent at $905.00 an ounce.
Bullion rose to a record high of $936.50 on Feb.1.
Dealers said that buy-stops were triggered along higher prices, and that new short positions were created in the market.
They also said that long-term investors in gold exchange-traded funds provided stabilization to the market in spite of recent volatile bullion prices.
"There has been a good clean-out of the weak longs in recent days and profit-taking after all the South African and Chinese production problems. I see limited downside in the short term," said David Thurtell, metals analyst at BNP Paribas.
"Gold is getting some safe-haven flows as the equity market outlook is very poor."
European stocks rose as banking and mining stocks trimmed early losses and helped the market bounce back after the previous session's sharp decline. U.S. stocks were also slightly higher by afternoon trade.
Miners lost ground, though investors were torn between concern that BHP Billiton's monster $147 billion bid for rival Rio Tinto would succeed and hope that talk of a bid for Xstrata from Brazil's Vale would lead to a deal.
Palladium XPD=> rose to $416/421 from its previous close of $411/415 an ounce, after reaching a six-year high of $426.50 on Tuesday. Silver XAG=> gained to $16.47/16.52 an ounce from $16.32/16.37 late in the U.S. market on Tuesday.



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