NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Platinum futures haven broken above $1,500 for the first time this year, putting the spotlight on shares of platinum mining company Stillwater Mining (SWC - Get Report) as an investment worthy to consider.
The spike in platinum futures this week, also represented by ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (PPLT), is in part the result of strong U.S. auto sales as well as labor strife in mines in South Africa.
U.S. June auto sales lifted the metal by reaching levels that hadn't been seen since before the financial crisis.
June sales rose 1.2%, beating expectations of a 3% decline. Seasonally adjusted annualized sales hit 16.98 million vehicles, the highest since July 2006, according to industry consultant Autodata Corp.
Platinum is tied to car sales because it is used in catalytic converters, which are in the exhaust systems of most cars. Catalytic converters combine carbon monoxide and unburned fuel from a car's exhaust to control pollution.