Gold Imports by India Halve After Record Prices Curb Demand
India’s gold imports tumbled by half in January as record domestic prices and a slowdown in economic growth curbed demand in the world’s second-biggest buyer.
Imports fell to 21.7 tons last month from 45.9 tons a year earlier, according to a person familiar with the data, who asked not to be identified as the information isn’t public. Finance Ministry spokesman Rajesh Malhotra wasn’t immediately available for comment. The drop in January comes after the World Gold Council said full-year purchases slumped 14% in 2019.
India’s lackluster gold demand is set to last through the first half as prices remain elevated and investors look to different asset classes, according to the council. At the same time, the country’s economy is on track to grow at the slowest pace in a decade. Purchases may pick up after June if growth accelerates and households adjust to higher prices, WGC’s managing director for India P.R. Somasundaram said last week.
“Demand is very bad, pathetic right now,” Avinash Gupta, partner at Hyderabad-based Mamraj Mussadilal Jewellers and a member of the All India Gem & Jewellery Domestic Council, said by phone. “We are still looking at lower numbers for imports and demand for at least the next couple of months. Unless, and until, the economy improves and the consumption improves, I don’t see jewelry sales going up.”
Jewelry demand may pick up around Akshaya Tritiya, which falls in April and is the second-most auspicious day to buy gold in the Hindu calendar, according to Gupta. The WGC forecasts demand at 700 tons to 800 tons in 2020 after shrinking to 690 tons last year.
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