People's Bank of China continues to add to gold reserves in September

October 9, 2015

Beijing-China (Oct 9)  Recent data released by the People's Bank of China suggests the central bank added a further 15 mt of gold to its official reserves in September following 16.2 mt added in August.

China revealed earlier this year that it had increased gold reserves by more than 600 mt since 2009, the PBoC now regularly updates changes to its gold holdings.

Still, the amounts -- over the six-year period -- fell well below market expectations.

"The low levels of China's official gold holdings as a percentage of foreign exchange reserves strongly suggest there is likely to be further official sector gold purchases," added HSBC senior analyst James Steel.

The premium for physical gold paid above the dollar spot price in mainland China was last heard around $4/tr oz.

"While this may not be a significant on a month-to-month basis, a long-term gold accumulation strategy by China or any other emerging market central bank, would constitute an important component of secondary demand and could be good for gold prices," Steel added, looking for positives in the trend.

He noted that China's hoarding could also influence other central banks to increase their holdings.

China is the world's largest gold producer and vies for the top consumer ranking with India.

Steel cited Zhang Bingman, vice chairman of the China Gold Association, as saying that the country produced 268.3 mt of gold in the first seven months of 2015, up 4% from January-July 2014.

Physical demand in India currently remains slack, according to local sources.

The start of the wedding season has failed to boost demand, contrary to traders' expectations.

"There just doesn't seem to be any interest from the public to purchase gold for weddings," said an Ahmedabad-based trader. "What is happening now has never happened before. Maybe there are not as many people getting married, people do not want to buy at any price."

The Indian wedding season -- which typically runs throughout the last three months of the year -- is the season associated with the highest level of national demand, with gold contributing around 50% of total wedding costs according to the World Gold Council.

"Current daily demand has dropped by over 80% from October last year," said a Mumbai refiner. "It is difficult to determine why the drop has been so big."

Slack demand meant Indian gold imports for September were down 71% at 41.7 mt from 140 mt in August.

The Platts Gold Premium India was assessed at a $6/oz discount to the London price Thursday, down $1/oz on the day.

Premiums in Turkey, another key physical consumer, were heard flat to the dollar price this week.

Turkey's gold imports were 1.45 mt in September, down 88% from 11.68 mt in August and 88.5% lower year on year, data from Borsa Istanbul showed Thursday, as the price of gold rose locally on the back of recovering prices for the metal and the strength of the dollar against the Turkish Lira.

"The record-high gold prices in local currency have doubtless reduced buying interest," said Commerzbank in a note Thursday.

Source: PLATTS

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