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BLBG: Platinum Drops Below $1,000 as Car Sales Slump; Gold Declines
 
By Marianne Stigset

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Platinum plunged below $1,000 an ounce in London after U.S. auto sales had their worst month since 1991, reducing demand for the metal used in autocatalysts. Gold fell for a third day as the dollar strengthened and oil declined.

Ford Motor Co.'s September sales fell 35 percent from a year earlier and Toyota Motor Corp.'s dropped 32 percent, the poorest performances in more than two decades. Autocatalysts, used to reduce noxious tailpipe emissions, account for 47 percent of platinum demand, according to Johnson Matthey Plc. The figures take into account recycling.

``We've seen auto sales dropping, and not just in Western markets,'' said James Moore, an analyst at TheBullionDesk.com in London. ``We are edging toward recession globally, so some of the industrial demand will be reduced. But the longer-term outlook is still positive because emissions controls will still tighten.''

Platinum for immediate delivery in London declined as much as 5.3 percent to the lowest since January 2006 and was down $39.50 at $996.50 an ounce as of 12:44 p.m. local time. Platinum futures dropped to a three-year low on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange.

Platinum is a ``buying opportunity'' at $800 to $850, Moore said. He expects the metal to trade at $900 in a month and $1,100 in three months.

The metal may also be buoyed by limited opportunities to expand output in South Africa, the biggest supplier, he said. Eskom Holdings Ltd., the country's state-owned utility, cut supply to mines and smelters for five days in January because of power shortages.

Gold Slides

Gold declined for a third day in London as the dollar gained against the euro and crude oil fell, diminishing demand for the metal as a hedge against U.S. currency weakness and inflation.

The dollar strengthened to a one-year high against the euro, after the U.S. Senate approved a $700 billion financial-rescue package. Gold has had a correlation of 0.66 to the euro-dollar exchange rate this year, up from 0.58 last year. A figure of 1 would mean they move in lockstep.

Gold for immediate delivery fell $1.27, or 0.2 percent, to $869.53 an ounce in London. Futures for December slipped $15, or 1.7 percent, to $872.30 in electronic trading on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

``The rescue plan will have a slightly marginal negative impact on the gold price but investors' willingness to pay for the gold price is around $850, $880,'' Bayram Dincer, a commodity research analyst at Dresdner Bank in Zurich, said in a Bloomberg Television interview today.

Goldman Forecasts

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. yesterday cut its 2008 forecast for gold by 1 percent to $872 and raised its 2009 estimate by 9 percent to $876. The 2010 forecast was increased 19 percent to $912. The bank also reduced its 2009 platinum estimate by 9 percent to $1,782 an ounce and its 2010 forecast by 17 percent to $1,855.

Gold holdings in the world's largest exchange-traded fund backed by bullion, the SPDR Gold Trust, were at a record 755.26 tons as of yesterday.

``We say yes to gold in good times and bad times,'' Dincer said. When portfolios are reviewed in December ``investors will have the opportunity to buy gold as a further investment class for 2009, 2010 and gold will shine at the year end.''

Among other metals for immediate delivery, silver slipped 32 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $12.24 an ounce and palladium fell $1.50, or 0.7 percent, to $205 an ounce.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marianne Stigset in Oslo at mstigset@bloomberg.net

Source