February 26, 2015 / 9:38 AM / 5 years ago

China gold imports from Hong Kong rebound in January

Customers flock to buy gold accessories at a gold store on sale in Taiyuan, Shanxi province July 6, 2013. REUTERS/Jon Woo/Files

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - China’s gold imports from Hong Kong rose in January from the previous month, data showed on Thursday, reflecting increased demand ahead of the Lunar New Year.

Net gold imports from main conduit Hong Kong climbed to 76.118 tonnes last month from a three-month low of 71.381 tonnes in December, according to data e-mailed to Reuters by the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department.

Jewellery demand typically rises ahead of the Chinese New Year, which fell in February this year. Analysts say import demand from the world’s second biggest gold consumer after India is likely to recover this year.

China’s gold imports via Hong Kong dropped to 813.13 tonnes last year from a record 1,158.16 tonnes in 2013.

That number should pick up to above 850 tonnes, ANZ Bank analyst Victor Thianpiriya said.

“Over the course of the year, Chinese imports should be stronger than last year after stocks were run down in recent months,” Thianpiriya said.

China does not provide official trade data on gold, and the Hong Kong figures serve as a proxy for flows to the mainland.

The Hong Kong data, however, might not provide a full picture of Chinese purchases as there are imports shipped directly through Shanghai and Beijing for which no official figures are available.

Spot gold bounced off a seven-week low this week as Chinese buyers returned to the market after the Feb. 18-24 New Year break. It was trading up 0.8 percent at $1,214.10 an ounce by 0917 GMT.

Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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