* Premiums edge up to $1.20 in HK, steady in Singapore
* India, Thailand and Indonesia buy gold bars
By Lewa Pardomuan
SINGAPORE, March 26 (Reuters) - Jewellers across Asia chased gold bars after bullion prices dropped more than $10 this week, while main consumer India was stocking up as the wedding season begins again in April, dealers said on Friday.
Dealers also noted active buying from jewellers in Indonesia and Thailand while consumers from the electronics sector in Hong Kong returned to the physical market as bullion prices slipped below the psychological level of $1,100 an ounce.
Cash gold XAU= rose $6.10 an ounce to $1,096.45 an ounce but was about 4 percent below a 6-1/2-week high near $1,150 hit in early March and more than $100 below record levels struck in December. [GOL/AS]
“We are actually running out of stocks. There’s not enough time to replenish gold bars. Thailand is the hottest buyer. Their demand is really good because they are quite price-sensitive,” a physical dealer in Singapore said.
“We’ve also seen inquiries from India. That’s quite good.”
The wedding season starts in April in India, which accounts for 20 percent of global demand for gold. Gold jewellery is the most common gift during religious events in India and local jewellers normally stock up weeks before key celebrations.
Premiums were steady at 80 cents to $1 an ounce to the spot London prices in Singapore, their highest since early February, but they could rise next week because of the strong demand and tight supplies. <GOLD/ASIA1>
Singapore dealers, who sell gold bars to consumers across Asia, normally get their supplies from refiners in Switzerland.
“There has been strong demand in Asia and the supply is tight as well in view of the approaching Easter holiday,” said another dealer. “The swiss refineries will be closed for couple of days,” he added.
In Hong Kong, premiums for gold bars inched up to $1.20 to the spot London prices, also their strongest in more than a month, versus $1 last week.
“It seems a drop below $1,090 an ounce attracts buybacks in the physical market. We are seeing demand from jewellers and the industrial sector,” a dealer in Hong Kong said.
“After the Chinese New Year, refiners have been receiving new order from the customers,” he added. Gold has dropped from recent highs, mainly due to a rally in the dollar and uncertainty over a bailout package for debt-ridden Greece, but an increase in ETF holdings showed gold still attracted investors as currencies remained volatile.
The world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), said its holdings stood at 1,124.647 tonnes as of March 25, up 4.568 tonnes from the previous business day. [GOL/SPDR] (Editing by Himani Sarkar)