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HONG KONG: Net gold imports into China via Hong Kong crawled up for a second straight month in July but remained significantly lower than the same time last year, data showed on Wednesday, as pandemic-led curbs continued to sour demand.

Net imports via Hong Kong to China, the world's top gold consumer, rose to 1.4 tonnes in July from the 0.87 tonnes in June, data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department showed. Net imports were still more than 82% down on the same period in 2019.

China's total imports of gold via Hong Kong declined by 31.5% from June to 3.91 tonnes and were down about 64% from the corresponding period last year.

"That gold is still at a discount shows there isn't very much interest in the market at the moment because people are still nervous," said StoneX analyst Rhona O'Connell.

Until people are "happy to go out and shop", the market will not return to levels of the past couple of years, she added.

Chinese gold dealers were forced in July to offer steep discounts to international spot prices that marked their best monthly performance in more than eight years.

Though the Chinese economy returned to growth in the second quarter after a deep coronavirus-induced slump, domestic retail consumption remains weak.

In April China turned a net exporter of gold via Hong Kong for the first time since at least 2011.

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