Asia Gold-Customers trickle in as Indian dealers hope for festive boost

* China activity muted by holiday, discounts around $40-$45/oz

* India further eases restrictions

* Steady demand from wealth, fund managers in Singapore- dealer

* Japan premiums ease to $0.25-$0.50/oz

BENGALURU/MUMBAI, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Customers began trickling into jewellery stores in India this week as domestic prices slipped, with dealers hoping for a further rebound in demand going into a busy festival season.

Indians celebrate the festivals of Dussehra in late October and Diwali and Dhanteras in November, when buying gold is considered auspicious.

“Slowly, demand has been improving. Retail buyers have started visiting jewellery stores,” said Harshad Ajmera, proprietor of wholesaler JJ Gold House in Kolkata.

Dealers offered discounts of $6 an ounce over official domestic prices, inclusive of 12.5% import and 3% sales levies, versus last week’s $5.

Local gold futures traded around 50,300 rupees per 10 grams, retreating from a record 56,191 rupees hit in August.

Festivals and the wedding season could generate healthy demand if prices remain around current levels, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a bullion importing bank.

India also further eased restrictions to combat the coronavirus pandemic, which has hammered consumer sentiment, even as infections soared.

In China, gold was sold at $40-$45 an ounce discounts versus global spot prices, before markets closed on Wednesday for a week-long holiday.

“Demand has been weak as people were preparing for the holiday and travelling back to their home towns,” said Samson Li, Hong Kong-based precious metals analyst at Refinitiv GFMS.

In Singapore, $0.80-$1.50 an ounce premiums were charged.

“We’ve seen a bit of buying and got inquiries from wealth and fund managers,” said Brian Lan, managing director at dealer GoldSilver Central.

Japanese premiums eased to $0.25-$0.50 from $0.50-$0.75 last week. Gold investment caught a lot of attention this summer, but it’s been quieter since prices retreated from record-highs, a Tokyo-based trader said.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh could raise local gold prices on Saturday to align with international markets.

“Demand has been picking up over the last one month, but very slowly,” Enamul Haque Khan, president of the Bangladesh Jewellers Association said. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel, Nakul Iyer in Bengaluru, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai and Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Editing by Arpan Varghese and Shailesh Kuber)