South African strike pushes platinum prices up

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Platinum and palladium settled at their highest prices this year Thursday as a mining strike in South Africa continues to cripple production.

Platinum for July delivery surged $18.20 to settle at $1,493.10 an ounce. Palladium for June rose $6 to $836.45 an ounce. That's the highest settlement price since Feb. 2011, according to FactSet data.

One mineworker was reportedly killed on his way to work Thursday, one of several deaths tied to the strike this month. Talks between the main miners' union and mining companies aimed at ending the four-month strike started Wednesday. But the CEO of Impala Platinum, a large mining company, told Reuters that he sees no quick resolution and that strike could continue much longer.

The strike started Jan. 23 and has squeezed worldwide platinum production. South Africa is the world's top producer of platinum and the second-largest producer of palladium behind Russia.

Copper and precious metals also traded higher Thursday. Copper for July rose 2 cents to $3.14 a pound. Gold for June gained $6.90 to $1,295 an ounce, while silver for July rose 18 cents to $19.52 an ounce.

In other trading, wheat fell 5 cents to $6.59 a bushel. Corn rose 2 cents to $4.77 a bushel and soybeans climbed 14 cents to $15.19 a bushel.

Oil and gas prices were mixed. Benchmark U.S. crude for July delivery slipped 33 cents to $103.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Wholesale gasoline rose a penny to $3.01 a gallon.

— Heating oil was flat at $2.95 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 11 cents to $4.36 per 1,000 cubic feet.