Palladium and platinum prices surged on Tuesday, with palladium on track for its biggest daily gain since 2001, as major producer South Africa was locked down due to the coronavirus, while gold soared over 5 per cent as fresh stimulus stopped liquidation among investors.

Palladium jumped 10.9 per cent to $US1,906.46 and platinum gained 8.4 per cent to $US696.57 per ounce.

“The market focus is starting to turn to some of these supply disruptions that the virus brings. South Africa is clearly the main one,” said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen.

“So, the focus has shifted somewhat from the risk to having a major drop in demand to the equally challenging condition where we’ve supplies struggling to find its way through to the buyer of the metal.”

Platinum was set for its biggest daily gain since 2008, while palladium jumped over 15 per cent earlier in the session.

South Africa “accounts for some 70 per cent of global platinum mined supply and 35 per cent of palladium, with a 21-day lockdown possibly resulting in a 4 per cent and 2 per cent of 2020 supply reduction respectively,” said Dmitry Glushakov, Head of Metals & Mining Research at VTB Capital.

The benchmark spot gold price soared but not as much as US gold futures in a sign the market is worried air travel restrictions and precious metal refinery closures will hamper shipments of bullion to the United States to meet contractual requirements.

Spot gold climbed 5 per cent to $US1,629.85 per ounce, while US gold futures settled up 5.95 per cent at $US1,660.80.

“The massive Fed stimulus and QE program continues to support gold as it erodes the currency (US dollar). Hard assets are going to be in vogue in that environment,” said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.

“The pressure is lifted, we’re no longer seeing the indiscriminate selling, to the contrary, we’re seeing the cream rise to the top.”

Wall Street rallied on signs that Washington was nearing a deal on a $US2 trillion economic rescue package.

The Fed announced unlimited quantitative easing and programmes to support credit markets on Monday. The move triggered a dip in the dollar.

Also helping bullion, three of the world’s largest gold refineries said they had suspended production in Switzerland for at least a week to curtail the spread of the contagion.

Meanwhile, US business activity contracted further in March, hitting a record low as the coronavirus pandemic depressed activity in both the manufacturing and services sectors.

Silver jumped 6.2 per cent to $US14.07.