London — Palladium, which has been powering higher for the past few years, "can't go up forever" was the view of Noah Capital Markets Monday, although tightness isn't going away anytime soon.
In a research note Noah analyst Rene Hochreiter said "a trader's correction" was possible in the near term, but that fundamentally the metal remained attractive based on physical tightness and continued buying interest because of stringent emissions standards.
Over the past three-months palladium has risen around 42%, spot bid at around 1640 GMT trading at around $2,501/oz.
"Every time someone has asked for my advice on when to buy it, I've told them just buy it. Even if you're buying it at a fresh high, another record is just around the corner. I said this at $900, $1,500. I'll say it again," a very bullish physical trader said.
Palladium is a key ingredient in gasoline engine autocatalysts, which lower emissions. Demand for the metal has increased in recent years, due to tight physical supply and higher demand for gasoline engines. The main driver for this was the 2015 "Dieselgate" scandal, which rocked the auto industry and caused demand for diesel engines to fall sharply in Europe.
Hochreiter said that a correction could offer a buying opportunity.
"The second half of January tends to see softer prices across the board, so be aware that there could be a buying opportunity coming up soon," he said.
As the palladium price continues to drive forward, there has been continued speculation of substitution between platinum and palladium. Still, for the time being there is no evidence of that happening. "It can take between two-three years to switch out of palladium and into platinum," the trader said.
However, broker SP Angel said: "At some point, the current price mismatch between two metals should cause manufacturers to reform their autocatalysts to include less palladium and more platinum."
One of the world's largest platinum producers, Anglo American Platinum, remains bullish on the outlook for palladium demand.
"Demand for this metal in 2019 remained firm, despite unexciting global light-duty vehicle sales, as tightening vehicle emissions rules led to automotive manufacturers using, on average, more palladium per vehicle than in previous years," Anglo American Platinum spokesperson Jana Marais said
Hochreiter added that "supply response will be needed over the next 12 years; we don't think this will be fast enough to satisfy demand and therefore see prices stronger for longer."
Head of commodity strategy at TD Securities, Bart Melek, was also bullish palladium.
"We reiterate that palladium's particularly strong fundamentals suggest that it can continue to trade far beyond cost-dynamics, and given that speculative length remains a minor risk, [the price could spike higher]," Melek said.