Platinum futures prices soared the limit allowed for daily trading on renewed fears that South Africa could disrupt the supply of the strategic metal in retaliation for apartheid sanctions.
Gold and silver advanced strongly, partly in reaction to the platinum activity. South Africa is a leading supplier of precious metals. Elsewhere, pork futures plunged the limit and cattle were sharply lower; oil futures moved higher in advance of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting next week.
Threats made by South Africa's foreign minister of an embargo against U.S. grain sent platinum prices up the $25-an-ounce limit at the New York Mercantile Exchange, said Peter Cardillo, commodity futures trading advisor in New York for Josephthal & Co.
The threat of a grain embargo raised fears that South Africa could extend the retaliation by cutting off its supply of platinum to the United States or other offending nations.
Foreign Minister Pik Botha's warning came just hours before the Senate voted to override President Reagan's veto of punitive sanctions against South Africa's racial policies.