Short-covering has featured among Nymex speculators; Commitments of Traders data showed Nymex funds cut their open shorts by 2,642 contracts or 5.1% in the week to September 11. Despite this, current positioning remains bearish as net length stands at -10,976 contracts.
Despite the price rout, there has been only limited evidence of dip-buying among investors. Exchange-traded fund (ETF) holdings total 2.370 million oz compared with 2.257 million oz in early July.
Despite slowing sales in the United States and China, the world’s two-largest vehicle markets, light vehicle sale globally continue to carry positive momentum rising 2.7% year on year in August, according to LMC Automotive. Sales globally were up 3.1% year on year in January-August.
Platinum demand has suffered as a result of falling demand for diesel-engine vehicles, sales of which dropped 16% in January-June compared with same period of last year, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA). Autocatalyst demand also faces potentially huge headwinds in the long term, resulting from the electric vehicle revolution.
The impact of weaker demand and robust supply are set to keep the market in a surplus, which the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) forecasts will total 295,000 ounces in 2018, up from the 180,000-oz surplus forecast in May.
Impala Platinum, the world's second-largest platinum producer, plans to cut future production by 30% over the next two years following its strategic review. Impala will close a total of five mines, cutting annual production to 520,000 oz from around 750,000 oz currently.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has threatened industrial action in response, as well as calling on the government to nationalize the five mine shafts that Impala has proposed closing.
Other producers are in the process of restructuring their operations. Lonmin is in the process of closing old mines and developing newer, lower-cost operations. Yet greater supply restraint is necessary to break the weak price sentiment.
A modest short-covering rebound is underway and given the scale of fund shorts could fuel further gains. But failure to vault DTL resistance around $830 per oz and the 100 DMA risks renewing bearish sentiment, particularly in view of the negative fundamental backdrop. We maintain a breach below the October 2008 low at $745 per oz risks a deeper retracement towards $600 per oz.
All trades or trading strategies mentioned in the report are hypothetical, for illustration only and do not constitute trading recommendations.