BENGALURU/MUMBAI Gold demand in Asia remained soft this week, with premiums in China notching a slight uptick and those in India remaining unchanged, as higher prices kept physical buyers at bay.
Indian demand for the yellow metal fell this week primarily due to a rally in overseas rates, though an appreciating rupee capped upside in local prices.
"Retail buyers are struggling to adjust with the sudden price rise. They are delaying purchases expecting a correction in prices," said Ashok Jain, proprietor of Mumbai-based wholesaler Chenaji Narsinghji.
In the local market, gold futures were trading around 28,900 rupees ($449) per 10 grams on Friday, up 1.5 percent from a week ago.
"If prices remain at higher level for a week or if they rise above 29,000 rupees then people will resume buying. They are waiting for a clear trend," Jain said.
The Indian rupee has risen 5.5 percent against the U.S. dollar so far in 2017, partly offsetting gains in overseas gold prices.
Dealers in India were charging a premium of up to $1 an ounce this week over official domestic prices, unchanged from the last week. The domestic price includes a 10 percent import tax.
"The demand should improve by month end due to Akshaya Trititya," said a Mumbai-based gold dealer with a private bank. In the last week of April, Indians will celebrate the Akshaya Trititya festival, when buying gold considered auspicious.
In top consumer China, premiums were around $10 to $12 per ounce against the international benchmark, up from last week's to $8 to $10.
"The demand has been quite stable this year. While investors are looking to sell, the physical flows are quite stable," a trader with a Shanghai-based bullion bank said.
Premiums in China had risen early this month as traders said supplies of the precious metal were limited due to tightening import restrictions to stem currency outflows.
In Hong Kong, premiums were quoted in a range of 70 cents to $1 an ounce, mostly unchanged from last week, while in Singapore, gold was being sold at premiums between around $1.20 to $1.50.
"A lot of people, mostly high net worth investors, have been looking into gold kilo bars purely for investments as a safe-haven," said Brian Lan, managing director at gold dealer GoldSilver Central in Singapore.
Premiums were flat in Tokyo due to limited demand. Traders, however, said demand for platinum has risen on industrial buying.
Gold prices were on track for its fourth straight weekly gain, with the bullion rising over 1 percent so far this week. Platinum has been the best performer of the week so far, up 1.7 percent.
(Additional reporting by Koustav Samanta in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)