Last year, the ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (NYSEArca: PPLT), the largest exchange traded fund listed in the U.S. backed by physical holdings of platinum, was a laggard among precious metals ETFs. PPLT posted a gain of just 2.4%, well below the returns notched by rival gold and palladium ETFs.

Even silver ETFs, which were viewed as laggards in the precious metals complex, outperformed PPLT by a better than 2-to-1 margin last year. The new year is bringing better things for PPLT and platinum and some professional investors are taking notice.

“Money managers increased their bets on a rally for platinum, a commodity used in pollution-control devices for cars,” reports Bloomberg. “Investors had been pessimistic on prices until the start of this year, but that sentiment changed as signs of synchronized global growth boosted expectations for demand. The metal’s strong correlation to gold is also providing support as a weaker dollar propels alternative assets higher.”

Although platinum is not as heavily traded as gold or silver, it is the third-most traded precious metal in the world and it is more scarce than its more popular rivals. Industry observers also believe that platinum companies have overextended operations during the commodities boom in prior years and have suffered from an oversupplied market as a result.

Another positive and important catalyst for platinum is that more of the metal is expected to be consumed this year compared to how much producers are able to mine, meaning demand will outpace supply.

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