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Platinum is a silvery-white metal, when pure, and is malleable and ductile. It does not oxidise in air. It has a coefficient of expansion almost equal to that of soda-lime-silica glass, and is therefore used to make sealed electrodes in glass systems.

Platinum was discovered by Antonio de Ulloa in 1735 in South America. Its name takes roots from the Spanish word "platina" meaning "silver".

Around the turn of the 20th century, Russia made several significant platinum deposit discoveries and began to produce 90% of the world's platinum.

Although this metal is widely used for jewellery, its main application, however, is in catalytic converters for cars, trucks and buses. This accounts for about 50% of demand each year. Platinum is very effective at converting emissions from the vehicle’s engine into less harmful waste products.
The electronics industry uses platinum for computer hard disks and thermocouples; it is also used to make optical fibres and LCDs, turbine blades, spark plugs, pacemakers and dental fillings. Moreover, platinum compounds represent important chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancers.

The price of platinum is linked with its supply and demand. During periods of economic stability and growth, the price of platinum tends to be as much as twice the price of gold; whereas, during periods of instability, the price of platinum tends to decrease because of reduced demand, falling below the price of gold, partly due to increased gold prices.

Like every commodity, platinum has its own ticker symbol, contract value and margin requirements.

Platinum is traded in the spot market with the code "XPT". When settled in United States Dollars, the code is "XPTUSD".

The metal is traded as an ETF (exchange-traded fund) on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol LSE: PHPT and on the New York Stock Exchange as ticker symbol PPLT. There are also several ETNs (exchange-traded note) available, some of which are inverse to the price of platinum.