December 22, 2017 / 10:33 AM / 7 months ago

Gold demand in Asia softens on higher prices, slow holiday trade

BENGALURU/MUMBAI (Reuters) - Gold demand across major centres in Asia were subdued ahead of the holiday weekend as a modest rebound in prices weighed on investor appetite.

Women look at gold jewelleries at a jewellery shop at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey, December 15, 2017. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/Files

Spot gold prices rebounded to the highest in two weeks at $1,268.91 on Thursday after sinking to a five-month low last week.

In top consumer China, premiums quoted this week were about $10 an ounce to the global benchmark, little changed from last week’s $9-$10 range.

“There hasn’t been much activity because we’ve already seen lower levels,” said Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.

There was also little demand due to a stronger yuan this week, Leung said.

Hong Kong premiums were unchanged from the previous week between 70 cents and $1.40.

In Tokyo, gold was sold at par to a 25-cent premium to spot this week, largely unchanged due to a quiet market ahead of the year-end holidays, a Tokyo-based trader said.

Gold demand in India also remained muted due to sluggish retail purchases.

“Retail consumers are in holiday mood,” said Ketan Shroff, managing director of Mumbai-based bullion dealer Penta Gold, with traffic having fallen in jewellery showrooms.

“Jewellers are also taking a break. They will become active only in the first week of January,” Shroff said.

Dealers in India were offering a discount of up to $2 an ounce this week over official domestic prices, unchanged from the previous week. The domestic price includes a 10 percent import tax.

In some pockets of southern India, retail demand is likely to improve during Christmas, but that would not offset declines elsewhere in the country, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a private bank.

“In the last few days, gold prices have recovered, but buyers are not sure about the upside. They think prices could fall again,” the dealer said.

Local gold prices have risen 1.6 percent since falling to 28,055 rupees per 10 grams last week, the lowest level since July 17.

India’s gold imports in November nearly halved from a year ago, industry officials and analysts said.

Reporting by Apeksha Nair in BENGALURU and Rajendra Jadhav in MUMBAI; Editing by Tom Hogue

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