Platinum may be bright spot in 2014 as surpluses pressure commodities

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Platinum is due to struggle with potential mine closures amid labour trouble in South Africa. Express Platinum is due to struggle with potential mine closures amid labour trouble in South Africa. Express
SummaryPlatinum is due to struggle with potential mine closures amid labour trouble in South Africa.

Nimble investors may find pockets of out performance next year in platinum group metals (PGMs) and selected industrial metals while abundant supplies weigh down most other commodities.

Platinum and palladium are due to struggle with potential mine closures amid labour trouble in South Africa while zinc, tin and lead could face regional shortages.

The opportunities may be short-lived so investors will have to be quick-witted to squeeze out profits, said analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov at VTB Capital.

"Market participants will have to be extremely vigilant, flexible and dynamic in their decision-making, aiming to benefit from mostly short-term seasonal trades," he said.

Broad commodity indices are likely to underperform again as surpluses burden oil, grains and metals such as copper and nickel.

The Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity CRB index, which tracks 19 commodities, has shed nearly 4 percent this year, the third straight year of losses. In 2014, it is due to underperform stocks again as the latter benefit from strong company earnings, analysts and fund managers said.

MSCI's all-country world equity index is up 20 percent this year and the U.S. S&P 500 index has surged 32 percent.

LONG PGMS/SHORT GOLD

Many analysts and fund managers expect more labour problems in South Africa. The country accounts for about three-quarters of global output of platinum, mainly used for jewellery and in catalytic converters to clean vehicle exhaust fumes.

"We're positive on the PGMs because ... the three largest platinum producers in South Africa, they've still yet to renegotiate those (labour) contracts," analyst Sudakshina Unnikrishnan at Barclays said.

"Any sort of supply risk we think is likely to be the catalyst to push prices higher."

Barclays is advising clients to place relative value trades in precious metals, taking long positions in platinum and palladium while going short gold.

Gold is expected to post more losses in 2014 after falling out of favour with investors, who have been liquidating holdings of an asset that has lost its safe-haven appeal.

A huge outflow of physical gold holdings from exchange-traded products (ETPs) has hit gold, which this year is set to post its biggest annual loss in three decades - some 28 percent - as it ends a 12-year bull run.

"We do not expect to see a repeat of the rapid outflows that occurred during the first half of the year, but with 1,820 tonnes of gold still held by physically backed ETPs, there remains substantial scope for further divestment," said Nic Brown, head of commodities research at Natixis in

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