Platinum Demand for Jewelry Fell in 2007

Total fabrication demand for platinum rose 0.8 percent to 7.06 million ounces in 2007 year-over-year, according to the Platinum Group Metals Yearbook. High platinum prices affected demand in some sectors, such as jewelry and electronics, but were offset by relatively inelastic demand in other sectors, in particular the automotive industry.

In 2008, total fabrication demand could rise 3.2 percent to reach 7.28 million ounces, according to the annual report, which was released Tuesday by CPM Group, a commodities market research, consulting, asset management, and investment-banking firm. Demand for platinum in the auto industry, the largest sector of end-use, is projected to remain strong this year, due mostly to strong demand from developing nations. Jewelry demand could decline again this year, while demand in China and other uses are projected to increase slightly.

Platinum prices averaged a record $1,314.46 in 2007, surpassing the previous record average price of $1,146.94 in 2006 by 14.6 percent, according to the publication. During the first five months of this year, prices averaged $1,946.13. This was up 56.9 percent from the similar period in 2007. In early March prices reached a record intraday high of $2,308.80.

Total platinum supply declined to 7.42 million ounces in 2007, down 4.6 percent from a record 7.78 million ounces supplied in 2006, the publication reports. The bulk of the decline occurred in South African mine production. A series of labor disruptions, accidents, mechanical, and operational problems all led to reduced mine output from South Africa.

Power shortage problems this year in addition to the issues already facing platinum group metals operations in South Africa are expected to weigh on platinum mine output this year again, according to the publication. Total supply could decline 1.4 percent this year to 7.31 million ounces. Total mine output, including South Africa, declined 6.6 percent to 5.71 million ounces last year and could decline an additional 2.7 percent to 5.55 million ounces this year. Secondary supply increased for the 16th consecutive year in 2007 and is projected to expand again in 2008. Russian exports of platinum meanwhile are projected to decline slightly this year again.

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