South Africa labor talks sink platinum, palladium

AP News
Posted: Apr 21, 2014 3:42 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Platinum and palladium prices dropped sharply Monday on signs that South African mining companies are close to reaching a labor agreement that would end a four-month strike.

Platinum for July delivery fell $28, or 2 percent, to close at $1,400.70 an ounce. Palladium for June lost $29.30, or 3.6 percent, to $777.80 an ounce.

South Africa mines have been closed since Jan. 23, when mine workers when on strike for higher wages. The Wall Street Journal reports that the country's three biggest mining companies are looking to offer raises to the 80,000 workers on strike to end the standstill.

South Africa is the second-largest producer of palladium behind Russia. Palladium prices have risen 4 percent since the South African miners went on strike. Russia's dispute with the West over Ukraine and Crimea has also pushed prices higher.

Other metals also fell. Gold fell $5.40, or 0.4 percent, to $1,288.50 and silver fell 24 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $19.35 an ounce. Copper edged down less than a penny, or 0.1 percent, to $3.043 a pound.

In other commodities trading, agricultural contracts fell. Wheat fell 24 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $6.76 a bushel, corn fell 7 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $4.94 a bushel and soybeans lost 15 cents, or 1 percent, to $14.87 a bushel.

Crude oil for May delivery rose 7 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $104.37 a barrel. Natural gas fell 4 cents, or 1 percent, to $4.697 per thousand cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline futures rose 3 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $3.09 a gallon. Heating oil was flat at $3.01 a gallon.