WGC: China get ahead of India as the World No. 1 Gold Consumer

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(Reuters) – China is this year set to take over India’s place as the world’s biggest gold buyer by an assuring margin as strict import directions presented by New Delhi bite, according to forecasts from the World Gold Council.

The commerce body slashed its outlook for Indian demand in 2013 to round 900 tonnes from the 1,000 tonnes predicted previously while holding its outlook for China unchanged at 1,000 tonnes.

Plunging demand from India could force international prices that have fallen about 24%this year on doubts the U.S. government book would slash its financial stimulus.

“The administrative assesses that the Indian government has imposed on the market have proven to be rather productive, and imports have slowed down,” Albert Cheng, the WGC’s organizing controller for the Far East told Reuters.

“It would be tough to get to 1,000 tonnes,” he said, adding that demand would not proceed far after the 864 tonnes noted last year.

“If not for administrative assesses, India would have glimpsed development as China.”

Indian demand in gold has reached 714.7 tonnes so far this year, lower than mainland China’s 779.6 tonnes, according to the WGC. Chinese demand in the first three quarters of the year has already surplus all of 2012.

India imposed a sequence of regulations this year to crimp demand for gold – the second most expensive item on its import bill after oil. The country is grappling with a high trade deficit and a weak rupee.

It presented a record 10-percent obligation on gold imports and tied the capacity of imports to trade goods, making it more difficult and expensive for gold to be traded to domestic markets. Imports plunged to 24 tonnes in October from a record 162 tonnes in May.

However, the WGC warned that the yellow metal was finding its way into India through unauthorized passages. It did not give an approximate on supply through smuggling.

The WGC said in its quarterly report, “Gold going into the homeland unofficially through India’s porous borders helped to rendezvous pent-up local demand, simultaneously with an entry of recycled gold that was drawn out by higher price and deals offered by retailers.”

The report added, “It is likely that unofficial gold will continue to find its way into the homeland to satisfy demand.”

Gold is a key part of a bride’s dowry in India, and it is considered auspicious as a gift or proposing at religious carnivals.

Premiums on gold locally hit a record of $130 an ounce previous this month as provision were scarce in the build up to the top gold buying time of the year of Dhanteras and Diwali. Although, demand failed to match last year’s appetite and premiums have since alleviated.

WGC’s managing director for India, Somasundaram PR commented, “This quarter there wasn’t runaway demand as we had estimated.” He added, “It is going to be lower than last year.”

Chinese Demand Still Strong

Global appetite for gold dropped 21%in the third quarter due to outflows from personal bullion funds and the drop in buying from India, according to the WGC.

But mainland Chinese demand remained powerful even throughout the cyclic slow third quarter, profiting 18%while Indian demand fallen 32 per hundred.

Demand from China has jumped almost 40%this year as the appetite for jewellery, bars and coins bigger harshly due to the sharp fall in gold charges.

Chinese demand has been, to an extent, adept to arise the fall in international gold prices, absorbing a big part of flows that were lost due to the firm directions in India and the outflows from gold backed exchange-traded funds.

WGC’s Cheng said, “The flow of gold from the west to east continues.” He added, “Western investors do not see the opening in gold, but Asians are picking it up, more so in China than India.”

Fourth-quarter demand will also stay strong as buying choices up ahead of the end of January, at the Chinese New Year.