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Platinum Slumps to 6-Week Low on Europe’s Slowing Growth

Platinum slumped to a six-week low on signs that Europe is struggling to recover from a recession, boosting concern that demand will slow. Gold was little changed.

Euro-area services and manufacturing contracted at a faster pace than economists forecast in February, data from London-based Markit Economics showed today. Minutes released yesterday from a Federal Reserve policy meeting showed some officials said the central bank should vary its asset purchases. Platinum surged 64 percent in the four years through Dec. 31 as the Fed increased stimulus measures.

“Slowdown in Europe and yesterday’s negative news from the Fed are pushing platinum lower,” Phil Streible, a senior commodity broker at R.J. O’Brien & Associates, said in a telephone interview.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, platinum futures for April delivery fell 1.6 percent to settle at $1,620 an ounce at 1:24 p.m. Earlier, prices slumped to $1,599, the lowest for a most-active contract since Jan. 10.

Europe is the biggest market for platinum used in pollution-control devices for vehicles, according to London-based Johnson Matthey.

Gold futures for April delivery rose less than 0.1 percent to $1,578.60 an ounce on the Comex in New York, after reaching $1,554.30, the lowest since June 29. Prices slumped 4.3 percent in the previous five sessions.

There is a potential for pent-up demand from India to “kick in” given the magnitude of the recent price declines, UBS AG said in a report today. Bullion is down 5.1 percent in February, heading for the biggest monthly drop since May.

Palladium futures for delivery in March retreated 0.4 percent to $733.60 an ounce on the Nymex after dropping to $708.30, the lowest since Jan. 16.

Silver futures for March delivery climbed 0.3 percent to $28.699 an ounce on the Comex.

Trading volumes for silver, platinum and palladium were more than twice the 100-day average for this time of day, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

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