Platinum turns white hot
Platinum prices have been skyrocketing for weeks and suddenly blasted even higher as realizations of new and increased uses for the white metal, as well as a relatively small stockpile, drew speculators and end users into a frantic buying spree. Platinum, historically above gold in price, spent the past decade below gold and producers, including Russia and South Africa, allowed their stocks to diminish.
Attention to new developments in fuel cell technology accompanied by popularity by both governments and private industry in alternative fuels boosted demand for platinum as a critical component to fuel cell manufacturing and operations. Fuel cells can utilize platinum as a catalyst to convert the energy in hydrogen (the most abundant element on earth) into electricity used to power satellites, electric cars, busses, and trains. The term “hydrogen revolution” has entered the mindset of many as demand for petroleum-based fuels has been waning.
Platinum can also be used to separate water (hydrogen and oxygen) into its two components providing a hydrogen fuel containing no carbon. Germany and other European nations are entering into a renewable “Green” hydrogen economy while other nations are stripping hydrogen from fossil fuels creating “blue hydrogen,” also new to our energy mix.
Until recently, platinum and its cousin, palladium have been used as major component in the catalytic converters now mandated as a pollution control device removing carbon and nitrogen oxide from auto exhaust. Platinum competes with gold and silver in some cultures as a source of Jewelry. The 50-ounce platinum futures contract traded at $ 1075.00 per ounce on Friday up over $ 100 per ounce!
Western wheat crop in poor condition
Despite 2 inches of rain falling locally in parts of the Northwest, most of the West had no precipitation. Severe drought expanded into Utah and exceptional drought hit Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada. Part of North Dakota experienced the driest period on record.
Wheat prices did not respond to the drought though crop condition reports indicated much of the winter crop is in poor or very poor condition. Wheat for March delivery in Kansas traded at $5.44 per bushel whereas Chicago wheat traded at $5.79 as of noon Friday.