Singapore: Jewellers across Asia chased gold bars after bullion prices dropped about $10 this week, while main consumer India was stocking up ahead of the wedding season that begins 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 rose $7.05 an ounce to $1,097.40 an ounce but was about 4% below a 6-1/2-week high near $1,150 hit in early March and more than $100 below record levels struck in December.
“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,” said a physical dealer in Singapore.
“We’ve also seen inquiries from India. That’s quite good.”
The wedding season starts in April in India, which accounts for 20% 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.
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.”
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 bars were on par with London prices in Tokyo versus a discount of 75 cents last week after purchases from the electronics sector accelerated as bullion stayed below the psychological level of $1,100 an ounce.
But a weaker Japanese yen pushed up gold contracts on Tokyo Commodity Exchange, which could eventually spur selling from retail investors and put pressure on the premiums again, dealers said.
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, said its holdings stood at 1,124.647 tonnes as of 25 March, up 4.568 tonnes from the previous business day.