China’s February net gold imports via Hong Kong nearly tripled from the previous month, surging on the back of a rebound in demand post Lunar New Year celebrations and a drop in bullion prices through the month.
Net imports into the world’s top gold consumer stood at 64.878 tonnes in February, compared with 22.24 tonnes in January, Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department data showed on Monday.
Total gold imports via Hong Kong surged to 65.552 tonnes from January’s 22.992 tonnes.
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Given that gold prices rose above $1,950 at the start of February and were below $1,850 for the second half of the month, this increase is not surprising, StoneX analyst Rhona O’Connell said.
Also, Swiss exports into China were high in February, reflecting solid demand and also a pick-up in China after the Lunar New Year, which would have slowed things down a bit in January, O’Connell added.
Data last week showed, world’s biggest bullion refining and transit hub Switzerland’s exports of gold to China rebounded in February. It exported 58 tonnes of gold to mainland China, the most since December.
The Hong Kong data does not provide a complete picture of Chinese purchases because gold is also imported via Shanghai and Beijing.
Gold prices posted their biggest monthly decline since June 2021 in February, declining more than 5% after three consecutive monthly rises. Prices have rallied sharply this month, on the back of a global banking crisis fuelling demand for safe-haven assets, including gold.
Premiums on physical gold in China swung between $10 and $40 last month, helped by strong demand amid a dip in global rates.
“I suspect that the net imports into HK in February will be reflected in the March numbers with another pick-up – at least until the sharp rally of ten days ago,” said O’Connell.