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Markets

Asia Gold-Demand plunges in pandemic-battered India

  • Indian jewellers have also stopped making purchases- dealer.
  • India discounts widen to $3/oz versus $2/oz last week.
  • China, Japan return from holidays, but demand muted.
  • Hong Kong premiums at $0.8-$1.8/oz, Singapore at $1.5-$2.0.
07 May 2021

Physical gold demand in India dived this week as shops shuttered and people turned cautious due to surging coronavirus infections across the world's second-largest bullion consumer, which also fanned fears of a wider spread to other Asian centres.

Retail purchases have nearly stopped as jewellery stores are closed across the country, said Mukesh Kothari, director at Mumbai bullion dealer RiddiSiddhi Bullions.

"Priorities have changed. People are trying to protect themselves from coronavirus rather than stepping out for gold buying," he said.

Most states have imposed lockdown-like curbs as India reported record daily cases and deaths.

As retail buying is not there, jewellers have also stopped making purchases, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a bullion importing bank.

Dealers were offering a discount of up to $3 an ounce this week over official domestic prices, inclusive of 10.75% import and 3% sales levies, up from the last week's discount of $2.

"It is relatively quiet in Asia, as many people are concerned about the wider spread of COVID in India, that would lead to drastic lockdown measures in the Asia Pacific region," said Bernard Sin, regional director, Greater China at MKS Switzerland.

In China, premiums were little changed as the nation remained closed most of the week for Labour Day holidays. Premiums of $7-$10 an ounce level were quoted versus last week's $8-$10 charged over benchmark spot gold prices.

In Hong Kong, premiums of $0.8-$1.8 an ounce were charged and $1.5-$2.0 an ounce in Singapore, both unchanged from last week.

In Japan, gold was sold at flat to a premium of $0.50 an ounce following Golden week holidays, with the government set to extend the state of emergency period due to COVID-19.

"So people would continue to stay home for longer and the demand could remain weak for a while unless there is a big drop in gold price in Japanese yen," a trader said.