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BENGALURU: India’s physical gold market flipped into a small premium this week for the first time in a month as prices eased although activity was still subdued, while buyers in other Asian hubs also stayed on the sidelines.

Dealers in India charged premiums of up to $1 an ounce over official domestic prices - inclusive of the 10.75% import and 3% sales levies compared to last week’s $4 discounts.

“Prices are correcting but still demand is not picking up. Buyers are confused about the price trend,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a bullion importing bank.

On Friday, local gold futures traded around 47,500 rupees per 10 grams, down nearly 1% from a week ago.

India’s gold imports in July more than doubled from a year earlier to a three-month high.

“Consumers are sceptical about their income in the short term. They’re thinking twice before making big ticket purchases,” said another bullion dealer based in southern city Hyderabad.

In top consumer China, premiums of $1-$4 were charged over global benchmark spot gold prices, while $0.80-$1.80 were charged in Hong Kong, both unchanged from last week.

“Trading volume in China remains low. Domestic consumption is depleting due to banning of individual accounts,” said Bernard Sin, regional director at Greater China at MKS. The Postal Savings Bank of China said in July it suspended new openings for accounts to trade the spot precious metals market, citing price fluctuations and elevated trading risks. In Singapore, premiums of $1.0-$1.80 an ounce were charged, versus last week’s $1.20-$1.50 premiums. “With gold prices going sideways for weeks, the physical market has also been quieter given the uncertainty,” said Vincent Tie, sales manager at Singapore dealer, Silver Bullion, referring to market caution over the US Federal Reserve’s monetary strategy.

In Japan, gold was sold between on par with the benchmark to a $0.50 premium.

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