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Precious metal prices nosedive    

Platinum and palladium prices fell sharply Monday as Japanese automakers suspended production in the aftermath of the Japan's largest disaster in decades.
The metals are used in car exhaust filters, known as catalytic converters, and prices are very sensitive to disruptions in the automotive sector.

Platinum for April delivery, the most actively traded contract, was recently down 1.1%, or $19, at $1,762.70 per troy ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Palladium for June delivery, the most actively traded contract, was down 1.8%, or $13, at $752.50 per troy ounce on the NYMEX.

Japanese car makers are struggling with rolling power blackouts, damaged facilities and disrupted parts deliveries in the wake of Friday's earthquake and tsunami disaster. The companies, many of which pioneered just-in-time delivery for supply chain management, have suspended production at domestic factories Monday as they struggle to assess the damage and adjust their logistics arrangements.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world's largest car maker by sales, expects a production loss of 40,000 vehicles after it announced production will be shut through Wednesday.

Honda Motor Co. will halt production at all domestic factories from Tuesday to Sunday and expects a production loss of 16,600 vehicles and 2,000 motorcycles.

Nissan Motor Co. said it will suspend two damaged plants until Friday and another four plants until Wednesday.

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