Two Hundred and Fifty Gram Stacked Gold Bars (Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg)

Gold Imports by India Are Said to Have Slumped for Fifth Month

(Bloomberg) -- India’s gold imports shrank 39 percent in May, according to a person familiar with the information, the fifth month of decline as the world’s second-largest consumer enters a seasonally weak period for demand.

Imports contracted to 77.6 metric tons from 126.2 tons a year earlier, the person said, asking not to be identified as the figures aren’t public. The purchases exceeded the 52.7 tons in April and are the highest so far this year.

Finance Ministry spokesman D.S. Malik declined to comment on the numbers. Inbound shipments in the first five months of 2018 were 42 percent lower on year at 289.3 tons, data collated by Bloomberg show.

The monsoon months of June to August are considered to be a slow period for purchases as farmers and rural consumers, the bulk of the buyers, are busy with agricultural activities because of the rains. A weaker rupee, which makes imports costlier, and cooling demand have cut overseas purchases this year.

Gold Imports by India Are Said to Have Slumped for Fifth Month

The South Asian nation has been one of the economies hardest hit by the emerging-market rout in the region, with the rupee down almost 5 percent against the dollar this year. In India, which imports almost all the gold it consumes, more than half of the jewelry is bought for weddings and buying of bullion is considered auspicious during religious festivals.

“The market is quite silent,” with the wedding season nearly over, Ketan Shroff, joint secretary at the India Bullion and Jewellers Association Ltd., said from Mumbai. Supplies in the local market remain good with sellers offering discounts of about 7,000-10,000 rupees ($104-$149) per kilogram, he said.

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