Recent filings by London-based ETF Securities (ETFS) indicate that U.S. investors may soon be able to access two precious metals via products structured in a way similar to the SPDR Gold Shares ETF (NYSE Arca: GLD). The ETFS Palladium Trust and the ETFS Platinum Trust each will hold physical bullion of their respective metals.
Palladium and platinum futures are traded in the U.S., but currently there are no exchange-traded funds covering the two elements. Barclays offers the iPath Dow Jones-AIG Platinum exchange-traded note, but it is a credit note, and does not take physical positions in the underlying metals. The ETF Securities products should appeal to investors looking for investment vehicles with tangible assets.
A few years ago, there were rumors that a bullion-based platinum ETF was being developed in the U.S. At the time, however, there were concerns that the market for platinum was too thin, and that hoarding by the ETF would create a shortage in the physical metal, which is used in everything from catalytic converters to jewelry.
At least one platinum mining firm came out against the concept, worrying that hoarding would drive up prices in the short term and hurt long-term industrial demand. With commodity prices (and demand for platinum and palladium) down, however, those worries appear to have gone away.
ETF Securities already offers platinum and palladium bullion ETFs in Europe.
The most recent filings bring the number of ETFS products in registration with the SEC to four—all of them trusts that will hold precious metals (silver, gold, palladium and platinum). Although the silver and gold trusts will compete directly with offerings from State Street Global Advisors and Barclays Global Investors, the palladium and platinum products will likely be the first ETFs to cover their respective metals.
ETFS offers a wide variety of commodity-based products—what it terms "exchange-traded commodities," or ETCs—on multiple exchanges in Europe. It has yet to launch any products on the U.S. market.
Read the filing for the ETFS Platinum Trust here.
Read the filing for the ETFS Palladium Trust here.