January 28, 2013 / 11:24 AM / 5 years ago

PRECIOUS-Platinum down 1.2 pct as Amplats delays job cuts

* Technical pressure adds to platinum selling below $1,700
    * Gold cautious ahead of FOMC meeting, ignores central bank
    * Russia, Turkey sharply added gold reserves in December
    * Coming up: U.S. consumer confidence Tuesday

    By Frank Tang
    NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Platinum posted its biggest
one-day drop in over a month on Monday, as news the world's
largest platinum producer Anglo American Platinum agreed to
postpone massive job cuts eased supply fears.
    Gold also edged down on selling related to option
expirations and as investors took to the sidelines ahead of a
Federal Reserve meeting and the all-important U.S. nonfarm
payrolls data later in the week.
    Platinum fell 1.2 percent after South Africa, Amplats
 and labor unions agreed to postpone restructuring that
could lead to 14,000 job cuts to allow for more talks.
    "Since we've failed so many times above $1,700, there are
quite a number of eager sellers at this level. Any type of
fundamental support such as the Amplats news could easily put
more fuel into the fire," said Sean McGillivray, head of asset
allocation at Great Pacific Wealth Management.
    Platinum group metals initially rose after an encouraging
U.S. durable goods report also boosted buying of the
autocatalyst metal. 
    Spot platinum was down 1.2 percent at $1,661 an ounce
by 3:13 p.m. EST (2013 GMT), having hit $1,655.24, the lowest
since Jan. 16. 
    U.S. NYMEX platinum futures for April delivery 
settled down $32.70 at $1,662.20 an ounce, with trading volume
about 20 percent above its 250-day average, preliminary Reuters
data showed.
    Technical selling also weighed on platinum as the metal has
not ended above $1,700 since early October.
    Despite Monday's decline, platinum has still climbed 10
percent since the end of December due to worries about a
widening market deficit after late last year's deadly South
African mine labor violence and Amplats' job cuts.
    South Africa accounts for around 80 percent of the world's
platinum reserves.
    Increasingly bullish bets by hedge funds and money managers
also triggered Monday's pullback. Speculative net longs in
platinum and palladium contracts 
both rose to all-time highs in the week ended Jan. 22, data from
the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. 
    Palladium eased 0.2 percent to $736.22 an ounce.
    On gold, the  market largely ignored news that central banks
in Russia and Turkey raised their gold reserves in December,
while Iraq cut its holdings by a quarter in November.
    Spot gold was down 0.2 percent at $1,654.50 an ounce,
extending last week's 1.5 percent decline, its sharpest weekly
loss in a month. 
    U.S. COMEX gold futures futures for February delivery
settled down $3.70 an ounce at $1,652.90, with volume about 60
percent above its 250-day average due to the February-April
rollover ahead of February's first-notice day Friday.
    Selling related to the expiration of COMEX February options
after market close on Monday and over-the-counter option expiry
on Tuesday also weighed on bullion, traders said.    
    Analysts said the Federal Open Market Committee policy
statement on Wednesday and U.S. nonfarm payrolls data on Friday
will likely provide the next short-term direction for gold. 
    Silver fell 0.7 percent to $30.83 an ounce.
 3:13 PM EST     LAST/    NET   PCT      LOW    HIGH  CURRENT
                SETTLE   CHNG  CHNG                       VOL
 US Gold FEB   1652.90  -3.70  -0.2  1651.00 1661.60  169,137
 US Silver MAR   30.78 -0.426  -1.4   30.745  31.320   33,520
 US Plat APR   1662.20 -32.70  -1.9  1659.70 1699.90   11,991
 US Pall MAR    740.55  -0.45  -0.1   736.50  749.55    8,040
 Gold          1654.50  -3.99  -0.2  1652.85 1662.20         
 Silver         30.830 -0.230  -0.7   30.760  31.300
 Platinum      1661.00 -20.00  -1.2  1655.24 1696.00
 Palladium      736.22  -1.28  -0.2   739.50  747.50
 TOTAL MARKET              VOLUME          30-D ATM VOLATILITY
                CURRENT   30D AVG  250D AVG   CURRENT     CHG
 US Gold        271,513   156,919   174,507     14.15    0.31
 US Silver       35,599    42,609    53,449     20.17    0.26
 US Platinum     12,203    15,366    10,880     16.46   -0.50
 US Palladium     8,143     3,258     4,790
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