(Adds details, analyst comments)
SINGAPORE Oct 8 China's net gold purchases from
Hong Kong fell 5 percent in August from the previous month, but
were still above 100 tonnes for a fourth straight month, as
strong demand for jewellery and bars persisted in the world's
second-biggest bullion consumer.
Net gold flows into China - excluding imports by Hong Kong
from China - hit 110.505 tonnes in August, compared with 116.385
tonnes in July, data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics
Total imports from Hong Kong rose to 131.374 tonnes from
129.232 tonnes a month ago.
"These are very strong numbers again. Gold demand from China
remains brisk, offsetting weak demand in the West and confirming
the shift in gold demand from West to East," said Carsten
Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank.
Fritsch said China's consumption could stay above the 100
tonne mark in the coming months.
Chinese demand has been very strong this year, offsetting to
an extent record outflows from gold-backed exchange-traded
products. Many in the market expect China to overtake India as
the biggest gold consumer.
China's net gold imports from Hong Kong have totalled
744.818 tonnes for the first eight months of the year, while
India's purchases as of August stand at a little less than 600
China's net gold imports from Hong Kong hit a record high of
136.185 tonnes in March before slipping in April due to a supply
China does not publish gold trade data. The numbers from
Hong Kong - a main conduit for gold into China - give the best
picture of the country's trade of the precious metal.
Gold has lost nearly a fifth of its value this year
on fears of an end to the U.S. Federal Reserve's stimulus
Prices, however, had gained nearly 6 percent in August as
geopolitical tensions in Syria mounted, burnishing the metal's
safe-haven appeal. The rise in prices could have prompted the
small dip in Chinese imports month-on-month.
Chinese banks that import gold also face a quota restriction
imposed by the central bank.
In a draft policy document issued last month, China's
central bank said it was planning to increase the number of
firms allowed to import and export gold - a move that could
further increase gold imports.
(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez
& Kim Coghill)