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Asia gold: Top hubs struggle as customers continue to keep away

BENGALURU/MUMBAI (Reuters) - Asian physical gold hubs struggled to regain footing this week as most retail customers stayed away even as some coronavirus restrictions were eased.

FILE PHOTO: Gold bullions are displayed at GoldSilver Central's office in Singapore June 19, 2017. Picture taken June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

Chinese dealers sold gold at discounts of $14-$18 an ounce versus benchmark prices, compared to last week’s $15-$20 discounts, with traders attributing the dip to a depreciation in the yuan.

“Jewellery shops in both China and Hong Kong are hardly seeing any customers... many people prefer to liquidate their physical gold for profit,” said Peter Fung, head of dealing at Wing Fung Precious Metals

Benchmark spot gold prices ranged between $1,693.22 and $1,735.19 an ounce this week.

In Hong Kong, which has been reeling from protests over a national security legislation being introduced by China, premiums were unchanged at $0.50-$1.75 per ounce.

India too saw subdued activity amid high local rates while most jewellery shops remained shuttered due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Demand is just 20% compared to normal as most weddings have been postponed, said Mangesh Devi, a jeweller from the rural town of Satara in the state of Maharashtra.

“Many potential customers aren’t stepping out due to fears of getting infected,” said Devi, who opened shop this week.

Indian gold futures were trading around 47,000 rupees per 10 grams on Friday, near a record high of 47,980 rupees.

Jewellers haven’t started purchasing from banks yet, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a bullion importing bank.

In thin trade, dealers offered discounts of up to $25 an ounce over official domestic prices, which include a 12.5% import and 3% sales taxes.

In Singapore, gold was sold at $0.80-$1.90 an ounce premiums.

A dip in global spot prices below $1,700 “spurred some retail buying,” said Brian Lan of dealer GoldSilver Central.

“It seems bullion dealers will be able to operate but not all services are allowed. Retail shop fronts are not allowed to resume at least for phase 1 after the ‘Circuit Breaker’.”

In Japan, gold was sold at par with the benchmark.

Reporting by Asha Sistla and K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai; Editing by Arpan Varghese and Frances Kerry

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