No gold imports by India for second month -trade

MUMBAI, March 31 Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:31pm IST

MUMBAI, March 31 (Reuters) - India imported no gold for the second month in a row in March as high prices dented consumer demand in the world's biggest market for the metal, the head of a trade body said on Tuesday. "Our records are showing zero so far," Suresh Hundia, president of the Bombay Bullion Association (BBA) told Reuters. "Scrap sales have reduced, but demand is not there either."

Imports in February and March last year were 23 tonnes and 21 tonnes respectively.

As local prices of gold climbed to a record high of 16,040 rupees ($315) per 10 grams MAUc1 on Feb. 20, people sold old ornaments raising supply of scrap and keeping imports at bay.

Prices have since eased, but at 15,138 rupees on Tuesday is still seen as too expensive with an economic slowdown further dampening sentiment, Hundia said.

Exports of gold coins slowed down in March as the gap between foreign and local prices narrowed from February, he said.

India has been the world's biggest buyer of gold for years, but imports slumped 48 percent in 2008 to 396 tonnes.

The falling trend has continued this year with imports in January plunging 89 percent from the same month last year to 1.9 tonnes.

For a graphic showing India's monthly gold imports, double click on: here ($1=50.9 rupees) (Reporting by Ruchira Singh; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan)

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