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Record gold prices keep imports at lowest in three years

Gold imports by India plunged in September to the lowest monthly inflow in at least three years, weighed down by all-time high prices amid poor demand. Inbound shipments slid for a third month, slumping 86 per cent from a year earlier to 13.5 tons in September, according to a person familiar with the data, who asked not to be identified as the information isn’t public.

That’s even lower than the 14.8 tons bought in August and the lowest monthly figure in records going back to January 2016, data compiled by Bloomberg shows. Total imports in the top consumer after China fell 12 per cent from year earlier to 520.6 tons during January to September, the person said. Finance Ministry spokesman Rajesh Malhotra wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Benchmark gold futures in Mumbai have jumped 22 per cent this year and touched a record of 39,885 rupees ($561) per 10 grams in early September.

Prices have since come off a bit but jewelers are concerned that the elevated prices, slowing economic growth and floods in many regions may eat into demand during the peak festival season this month and the wedding season that follows. Prices were last trading 0.8 per cent higher at 38,190 rupees at 1 p.m. in Mumbai.

“Everything is affecting consumers’ sentiment,” N. Anantha Padmanaban, chairman of the All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council, said by phone. However, the slight dip in prices has given some hope to jewelers that the weakness in demand expected during the 15 days before Diwali may be less severe, he said. Diwali falls toward the end of the month this year and demand typically spikes in the two weeks preceding the festival as Hindus consider it an auspicious time to buy gold. “Each one is trying in their own way to pull in customers,” he said on jewelers’ efforts to promote sales during the festival season.

Courtesy - Economic Times



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