The US-China trade war that has ravaged most commodities failed to dent 2018’s best-performing major metal. Many analysts don’t see much standing in the way of further gains in 2019. Shortages of palladium sent prices of the commodity used in autocatalysts to a record this year, at times surging past gold to become the most precious of major metals. Citigroup sees no supply relief soon. Users are borrowing the metal to meet their immediate needs, sending the one-month lease rate to an all-time high of 34.5%.

“Prices are responding to a clear mismatch between supply and demand,” said Maxwell Gold, director of investment strategy at Aberdeen Standard Investments, which oversees about $736bn. Spot palladium surged 20% this year through Thursday, even as trade-war concerns sent the Bloomberg Commodity Index tumbling towards its first annual loss since 2015. Not even signs of a slowdown in China, the world’s largest car market, have disrupted the ascent of the metal that’s used mos...

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