April 28, 2015 / 9:54 AM / 4 years ago

China's gold imports from Hong Kong hit 7-month low in March

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - China’s gold imports from Hong Kong dipped to their lowest level in seven months in March, data showed on Tuesday, as demand eased in the world’s second-biggest consumer.

A shop assistant arranges gold accessories at a gold store in Lin'an, Zhejiang province November 6, 2014. Gold languished near its lowest level since April 2010 on Thursday as investors dumped the safe-haven metal amid strength in the dollar and on fears that $1,000 an ounce is the next target. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS COMMODITIES) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA

Net gold imports from main conduit Hong Kong dropped to 66.363 tonnes from 67.575 tonnes in February, according to data emailed to Reuters by the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department. [ID:nL4N0XP4MM]

Last month’s imports were the lowest since August 2014.

China raced past India to become the world’s biggest bullion consumer in 2013, when a 28 percent slide in prices XAU= sent the Chinese rushing to buy gold.

However, India took back the title last year as a further drop in gold prices deterred Chinese consumers looking for better returns.

An anti-corruption drive has also taken a toll on demand.

India is likely to remain the top gold consumer this year, according to the World Gold Council. [ID:nL5N0VL2AW] [ID:nL3N0T251K]

Earlier on Tuesday, the China Gold Association said Chinese gold consumption remained broadly stable in the first quarter, up just 1 percent from a year earlier at 326.68 tonnes.

Gold imports into China have also been kept down by adequate inventory on the mainland.

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

However, the Hong Kong data does not provide a full picture of Chinese purchases as imports also come directly through Shanghai and Beijing and there are no official figures for those shipments.

Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Anand Basu and Alan Raybould

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