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09-08-2012 13:08:00

UPDATE: HSBC Lowers PGM Forecasts, Output Cuts Seen Supportive

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-- HSBC cuts platinum, palladium outlook for 2012, 2013 and 2014

-- Cuts 2012 platinum outlook 14.1% to $1,525/oz; palladium outlook down 16.6% at $655/oz

-- Sees production cuts supporting prices later this year and into 2013

(Adds further detail, comment)

By Francesca Freeman

LONDON--HSBC Thursday cut its outlook on platinum and palladium prices through 2014, although it expects production cutbacks to eventually lend support to prices.

The bank cut its 2012 platinum forecast by 14.1% to $1,525 a troy ounce and its 2013 outlook by 11.0% to $1,625/oz.

"Sluggish auto demand, notably in Europe, where platinum-rich, diesel-fired autos dominate the market, has curbed platinum demand," said HSBC analyst James Steel.

"We are lowering our forecasts of platinum demand by the automotive industry for 2012 to 3.173 million ounces from 3.286 million ounces and for 2013 to 3.3 million ounces from 3.416 million ounces," he said.

HSBC now expects palladium to average $655/oz this year, down 16.6% on previous forecasts. In 2013, it sees the metal averaging $750/oz, down 9.1% on earlier estimates.

While palladium has fared better than platinum in recent months due to stronger auto sales in regions where gasoline-fired autos, which use palladium, are dominant, demand for the metal from the jewelry and industrial sector remain weak, said Mr. Steel.

Despite its outlook downgrades, HSBC sees production cutbacks--driven by lower PGM prices--helping buoy both platinum and palladium prices later this year and into 2013. Palladium is produced as a by-product in platinum production.

"Sliding prices have made a large swathe of platinum production uneconomical, and in recent weeks producers announced a raft of production cuts, notably in South Africa," said Mr. Steel. "The shelving of expansion plans may inhibit future productive capacity."

"We believe that projected production cuts and commensurately tighter supply/demand will propel prices higher," he said.

Palladium prices should also be propped up by lower Russian sales of the metal from domestic stockpiles, HSBC said.

"Should Russian stockpile sales dwindle as expected, supply tightness should help drive prices higher," said Mr. Steel.

HSBC also cut its 2014 outlook on both metals.

At 1020 GMT, European spot platinum traded at $1,412.50/oz, while spot palladium traded at $586.25/oz.

Write to Francesca Freeman at francesca.freeman@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 09, 2012 07:08 ET (11:08 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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