Gold Demand in China May Gain to Record, Bullion Bourse Says

Beijing-China (Oct 26)  Gold consumption in mainland China may match or exceed the record in 2013 after financial-market turmoil and the yuan’s devaluation boosted the metal’s appeal, according to the Chinese Gold & Silver Exchange Society, which also saw higher sales at jewelers in Hong Kong.

Buying in mainland China, which vies with India as the world’s largest consumer, picked up after the stock-market turmoil this year and August’s surprise devaluation, according to Haywood Cheung, chairman of the supervisory committee at the century-old bullion bourse. Demand in Hong Kong may expand 25 percent this half after a lackluster first six months, he said in an interview.

Gold prices are lower in 2015 following two years of losses on prospects for higher U.S. interest rates. The decline in 2013, when bullion sank 28 percent, spurred increased buying across Asia, and 2015 is shaping up well and may surpass that year’s total, according to Cheung. The yuan was devalued in the third quarter to bolster the nation’s competitiveness, and policy makers have also acted to stem a stock-market rout.

‘Prefer Gold’

“Investors still prefer gold as they don’t have many alternatives in terms of investment choices,” Cheung said on Friday, citing estimates by the society’s members, which include the world’s largest listed jewelry chain Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd. and Chow Sang Sang Holdings International Ltd. "Also, there’s a general feeling there’s less price uncertainty now."

Gold for immediate delivery was little changed at $1,163.93 an ounce at 3:34 p.m. in Hong Kong as the precious metal swung between gains and losses this year. Investors are weighing up prospects for the first rise in U.S. rates since 2006, with U.S. central bankers set to meet this week and again in December.

Consumer demand in China, which totaled 973.6 metric tons last year, was 497.3 tons in the first half of 2015, according to data from the World Gold Council issued in August. In Hong Kong, demand was 61.4 tons in 2014 and 24.8 tons between January and June, according to the August report. In February 2014, the producer-funded group estimated Chinese consumer demand at 1,066 tons.

Source: Bloomberg