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SHANGHAI: China’s net gold imports via Hong Kong jumped 56% in October from the previous month to the highest since June 2018, as buyers in the top consumer stocked up on the metal as a cushion against rising inflation.

Net imports stood at 54.26 tonnes in October compared with 34.79 tonnes in September, Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department data showed on Thursday.

Total gold imports via Hong Kong rose to 57.80 tonnes from 41.88 tonnes.

“The healthy figures reflect what we’re seeing in the spot market, which is to say loco Shanghai gold’s been trading at a significant premium over loco London spot,” independent analyst Ross Norman said.

Gold imports from Switzerland to mainland China in October were also higher than in any month since June 2018, customs data showed.

“The data seems to reflect healthy demand from that region. While demand from other key physical buyers has been weak or sporadic, China is beginning to show increasing strength, and I suspect this is being driven by the inflationary numbers we’re seeing,” Norman added.

China’s October factory gate prices, an indicator for inflation, rose at the fastest pace since 1995, beating forecasts and further squeezing profit margins for producers grappling with soaring coal prices and other commodity costs due to the power crunch.

Net imports via Hong Kong also rose in September to hit a five-month high.

Premiums were charged on physical gold in China throughout October, a month that started with the country’s Golden Week holiday. The Hong Kong data does not provide a complete picture of Chinese purchases because gold is also imported via Shanghai and Beijing.

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