London — Palladium’s great start to the year pales in comparison with its lesser-known but much more expensive sister metal, rhodium.

Rhodium — mainly used in autocatalysts and five times more costly than gold — has surged 32% already in January, touching the highest level since 2008. Stricter emissions rules have fuelled a multiyear rally and there’s speculation that investors are also jumping in, betting that prices will climb towards a record...

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