Platinum sell-off helps to sink gold

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The Independent Online
FURTHER falls in gold and platinum prices yesterday ended a dismal week for precious metals, underlining how fragile last month's rally had been, writes Lisa Vaughan.

Platinum fell more than dollars 5 an ounce yesterday to close at dollars 345.75, bringing the price decline for the week to dollars 36. The selling emerged as prospects for platinum demand dimmed and the threat of a South African strike curtailing mine production lifted. Gold's dollars 1.50 drop to dollars 336 brought its weekly decline to dollars 15.

Stewart Murray, chief executive of Gold Fields Mineral Services, said that a reversal in investor interest in platinum, an industrial and a precious metal, led gold lower.

'Platinum's two main markets, autocatalysts and jewellery demand from Japan, are both suffering from recession and slowdown,' he said. 'On the production side, a sustained strike in South Africa does not look likely now. So sentiment changed toward platinum, and that's what got the ball rolling.'

Continued weakness in the Toyko stock market has also given platinum holders the jitters, raising fears that buying from Japan, the largest importer, will dry up.

Gold's advance to dollars 359 last month fizzled when chart-driven US investment funds, which accounted for most of gold's recent rally, started getting sell signals from their technical price charts as enthusiasm started to be dented by platinum sales.

Silver, mostly viewed as an industrial metal, mirrored the fall, closing down 10 cents on the week at dollars 3.92.