TOKYO (Reuters) - Global gold demand in 2013 should be led by further strength in Chinese demand and a recovery in India, helping the precious metal continue its bull run into its 13th year, the industry-backed World Gold Council said on Friday.
Chinese gold demand is likely to grow around 10 percent in 2013 from about 800 tonnes this year, as the world's second-largest economy is expected to pick up pace, Marcus Grubb, World Gold Council managing director, said in an interview.
"There's evidence already that the Chinese economy is bottoming out, and beginning to recover again," Grubb said.
"We have strength into Q1 next year on Chinese New Year. I think you'll see China perform strongly in 2013 as the economy recovers."
He did not give a projection for Indian growth, though said demand should rebound after falling about 20-25 percent in 2012 to 750-800 tonnes.
"And the reason is I think the effect on India you had this year is unlikely to be repeated next year," he said, referring to a nearly 30 percent fall in Indian demand in the first half of this year, hurt by a slowing economy and record-high gold prices in local currency terms.
He also cited other drivers for his projections for higher demand in 2013, including robust Western investment demand due to lingering global financial problems and purchases by central banks.
Global gold demand is likely to fall by around 5 to 7 percent in 2012 to around 4,100 tonnes, he added.
The world's total consumer gold demand in the first three quarters of the year fell 7 percent from a year earlier to 3,185.5 tonnes. India's gold demand during the period dropped 22 percent to 612 tonnes, the WGC said earlier this month.
"India could probably come in around 750 to 800 tonnes for (2012), down from 1,000 last year," he said, adding that Chinese demand in 2012 is expected to reach around 800 tonnes, up from roughly 778 tonnes a year ago.
"It's going to be very close as to which market is the biggest in the world," he said.
Grubb said gold demand in India and China in the fourth quarter looked to be strong.
"Looking at data we have on imports into India and also premiums in Mumbai, demand's been very strong so far in Q4 in India, I think actually stronger than in China," he said, adding that gold purchases before the Lunar New Year will help boost China's demand in the fourth quarter.
Graphic: Global gold demand
Central banks continued to diversify their reserves into gold and official sector demand is expected to reach 450-500 tonnes this year, compared with 456 tonnes last year, which was the highest since 1964, he added.
Robust demand in the official sector is expected to continue into 2013, he added.
Grubb also said the bull run on gold markets is expected to continue for a 13th straight year in 2013, without giving any price forecasts. Gold has been up around 10 percent so far this year at about $1,730 an ounce. (Additional reporting by Rujun Shen in Singapore; Editing by Ed Davies)