Global Demand For Gold Increases

Global demand for gold during the third quarter of 2011 surged 59 percent year on year by value to a record $57.7 billion, according to the World Gold Council. Gold demand by volume rose 6 percent from one year ago. Demand from the jewelry sector fell 10 percent in terms of volume to 465.6 tonnes, nonetheless, due to much higher prices for the precious metal, the value of gold demand rose 24 percent to a record $25.5 billion.

According to the World Gold Council’s ”Gold Demand Trends report for Q3 2011,” jewelry demand from China increased 13 percent year on year to 131.0 tonnes, equivalent to $7.3 billion (RMB 46 billion). The bulk of the increase came from smaller cities as retail chains expanded their networks to meet increasing demand fuelled by rising income levels, the World Gold Council explained.

However, gold jewelry demand from India was sluggish, compounded by high inflation rates and greater volatility in the local gold price. Overall, India’s gold jewelry demand in the third quarter fell 26 percent by volume to 125.3 tonnes. In value terms, however, India’s gold jewelry demand rose 2 percent to $6.20 billion (INR 314.50 billion).

Investment demand comprising of bars and coins as well as exchange traded funds (ETFs) declined 18 percent to 78 tonnes by volume, but trade value gained 12 percent to $3.86 billion (INR 195.78 billion) during the quarter. Combined gold demand in India fell 23 percent to 203.3 tonnes, which, despite the decline, ranked India as the the largest market for the yellow metal.

Ajay Mitra, managing director for Middle East and India for the World Gold Council, said, ”One of the largest reasons for the decline in volumes is that the trade destocked tremendously in the third quarter because of the volatility. They are not sure at what price they are going to stock up themselves.”

He added that the middle class in India’s urban cities have been readjusting their budgets and therefore their priorities in the third quarter.

Mitra said that World Gold Council is optimistic that the fourth quarter will post positive growth because of Christmas and India’s wedding season. “While there is a bit of uncertainty in Europe it is not as critical as it was a couple of weeks back. So there should be good demand globally,” he added.

He stated that during Diwali there was robust demand for gold and gold jewelry from semi-urban and rural Indian markets, but demand in the larger cities was on par or slightly down compared with 2010.

”The upcoming festive season, however, is expected to usher an increase in the demand for gold as we look forward to periods of increased price stability resulting in Indian consumers being able to build gold purchases into their household budgets,” Mitra said.

The World Gold Council concldued that India’s successful monsoon season this year should yield good crops, which in turn should help ease food inflation, while also bolstering rural incomes, thereby boosting the demand in first quarter of 2012.

Marcus Grubb, the managing director of investment at the World Gold Council, said, ”Unsurprisingly investment demand for gold was a key driver during the third quarter. Increasing levels of inflation, the U.S. credit rating downgrade, a worsening euro-zone sovereign debt crisis and the lackluster performance of many assets drove investors to increase holdings in gold in order to protect their wealth.

Given gold’s proven risk mitigation properties, it is likely that investors will continue to seek protection from economic uncertainty, which shows no signs of abating.

”The long-term fundamentals for gold remain strong with a diverse and growing demand base coupled with constrained supply-side activity,” he said.

The quarterly average price for gold rose 39 percent year on year to $1,702.12 per ounce, while the gold price closed at a new record of $1,895 an ounce in London (PM Fix) on September 5 and 6. Global gold investment demand reached a record $25.6 billion. Demand for gold bars and coins increased 78 percent to $21.4 billion. Gold ETFs and similar products witnessed inflows of 58 percent higher than one year ago.

Central bank net purchases amounted to 148.4 tonnes, as they continued to increase their allocation to gold as a percentage of total reserves, during the third quarter. Gold supply rose 2 percent year on year to 1,034.4 tonnes and mine production increased by 5 percent to 746.2 tonnes.

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