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Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The price of rhodium, a metal used in fine jewelry and car parts, has skyrocketed over the last few months. It has jumped by more than 50% in just the first three weeks of January, reaching a price more than six times that of gold and the highest since late 2008, FactSet data show.

What's happening: "Surging demand from carmakers is partly to blame," the Economist writes. "More than four-fifths of global demand for both rhodium and palladium comes from the automotive industry. The metals, together with platinum, help convert toxic gases in a vehicle’s exhaust system (such as carbon monoxide) into less harmful substances before they exit the tailpipe."

Go deeper: Another twist in the U.S.-China battle over rare earths

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
24 mins ago - World

China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
1 hour ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.

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