Gold demand up 27% in 2013 Q1, says WGC

India's gold imports dropped by 5.7% to 215 tonnes in the January-March period of 2013, even as its demand rose by 27% to 256.5 tonnes, the World Gold Council (WGC) said today.

The demand for the precious metal will continue to be robust in the coming months, though the government has imposed some curbs on imports, the WGC said. In its report, it cautioned that any further supply controls would activate unauthorised channels.

Gold import and demand in India, the world's largest consumer, stood at 228 tonnes and 202.1 tonnes respectively, in the year-ago period, it said.

"Gold imports were 215 tonnes in the first quarter of 2013 as compared to 228 tonnes in the same period last year. Imports remained lower as stockists had purchased heavily in the previous quarter in anticipation of rise in import duty," WGC India managing director Somasundaram PR told reporters here at the release of the report.

Of the total demand of 256.5 tonnes, the WGC said the country's jewellery demand rose by 15% to 159.5 tonnes from 138.3 tonnes, while investment demand increased by 52% to 97 tonnes from 63.8 tonnes in the review period. "Gold demand in India for both jewellery and investment continues to remain strong. The price fluctuations in gold recently have only served to reinforce Indian consumers' appetite for purchasing physical gold," Somasundaram said.

Good rabi crop and lower gold prices during February led to higher jewellery demand, the WGC said, adding that "the negative impact of rise in gold import duty in late January was for the most part eliminated by these positive factors".

Sharing outlook for the April-June quarter, the WGC India chief said demand for gold would remain robust due to lower prices and higher buying in the ongoing wedding and festive season. The demand will also be fuelled by an expected rise in rural income on good monsoon projected this year. Besides, there are 20% more auspicious days this year and this will drive demand for the precious metal, he said.

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