SINGAPORE/MUMBAI (Reuters) - Buying activity in China's physical gold exchange ticked up this week, indicating retailers in the top consumer of the metal saw good sales during the week-long National Day holiday.
Prices on the Shanghai Gold Exchange - the platform for all physical trades in China - were about $5-$6 an ounce higher than the global benchmark XAU=, compared with about $3 before Chinese markets closed for the holiday.
The increased buying interest shows retailers are probably restocking after sales during the holiday from Oct. 1-7.
The annual holiday, also known as the Golden Week, is a time when millions of people travel and spend more than usual. It also marks a pick-up in weddings, boosting demand for gold jewellery.
"We are seeing increased demand since the end of the holiday, and should see imports pick up from next week," said a trader with an importing bank.
In Hangzhou, retailers saw gold jewellery sales jump 106 percent, while stores in Tianjin saw gold and silver jewellery sales rise by more than 40 percent, according to a statement from the ministry of commerce earlier this week.
A drop in prices during the holiday helped boost sales, while aggressive promotions by jewellery retailers also helped, dealers said.
"Strengthening demand for kilobars in China has been a prevalent theme ... since their week long holiday," Alex Thorndike, senior trader at MKS Group said in a note on Friday.
"Apparently onshore jewellery sales were brisk during this period so manufacturers have had more appetite to load back up on the metal."
Gold was poised to post its best week since June on Friday, after recovering from a 15-month low hit earlier in the week. Lower equities and the return of China from the holiday supported prices. [GOL/]
Demand has also been increasing in India, the second biggest consumer, helped by the festival and wedding season.
Indian gold premium increased to $12-$15 an ounce this week from $7 two weeks ago, dealers said.
This month, India will celebrate the festivals of Dhanteras and Diwali and both are considered auspicious times for buying gold jewellery, coins or bars.
Since the wedding season also kicks off around the same time, markets expect strong purchases. Gifts of gold are an important part of Indian weddings.
"Gold demand in the physical market has increased and is likely to remain firm until early next year because of festivals and the wedding season. Gold jewellery remains in demand during the marriage season as it is mandatory for Indian households to gift gold," said Yash Zaveri, director of retailer Zaveri & Co.
Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore and Meenakshi Sharma in Mumbai; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi