Washington — Rhodium prices eased this week as refiners and dealers continued to offerthe metal at lower levels following the sharp rally at the end of last year.
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The Platts New York Dealer rhodium price range dipped to $1,630-$1,700/ozfrom $1,640-$1,700/oz last week.
Most sources continued to say rhodium was trading either side of$1,700/oz, but some market players reported hearing offers considerably lowerthis week.
"People were offering at $1,650/oz the other day," one US dealer reportedThursday, putting this week's range of physical deals at $1,620-$1,710/oz.
"All week, there were a lot of nervous offers around; the same thinghappened last week," the dealer said. "Up until [Wednesday] afternoon,everyone was trying to quietly offer material."
German refiner Engelhard Materials Services (BASF) closed the week at$1,700/oz from $1,725/oz last week after lowering its base price on Monday.
UK refiner Johnson Matthey ended the week at $1,690/oz from $1,700/ozlast week after lowering its base price on Thursday.
Rhodium prices rose nearly 46% in the fourth quarter due to heavyindustrial demand and some buying from banks and other speculative investors. Prices rose to $1,725/oz in the last week in December, the highest levelsince September 2011. But few buyers have returned to the market thus far,sources said.
"Usually, the autocatalyst guys are slower [to buy] at the beginning ofthe year," one PGMs refiner said, putting this week's range at$1,670-$1,710/oz. "There was definitely nothing interesting going on" thisweek, he added.
Rhodium, like platinum and palladium, is loaded into automobile catalyticconverters to reduce emissions of certain greenhouse gases and pollutants,especially in Europe.
A second US dealer felt the market was "either side of $1,700/oz fornow," and put the week's range of deals at $1,650-$1,725/oz.
"Even though it's been marked lower [by major refiners], I don't get theimpression there has been a tremendous amount of selling going through," hesaid.
A second PGMs refiner agreed market activity had been slow to start theyear, but felt more buyers would emerge if prices fell to the $1,600-$1,650/ozrange. The refiner put this week's range at $1,625-$1,700/oz.