Gold Demand in India Heads for Quarterly Record After Price Drop

May 29 (Bloomberg) --Gold demand in India, the world’s largest buyer, is heading for a quarterly record after prices slumped to a two-year low in April, the World Gold Council said.

India’s gold imports will be 300 to 400 metric tons in the second quarter, almost half total shipments for all of last year, the London-based industry group said in a report. Gold auctions run by the State Bank of Vietnam were fully subscribed and some retailers in Japan ran out of stock, it said.

Investors sold 477.7 metric tons valued at about $21 billion from exchange-traded products this year as some lost faith in gold as a store of value amid an improving U.S. economy and rally in equities. The slump into a bear market last month boosted demand for jewelry from Asia and spurred greater coin purchases, with the U.S. Mint saying April 23 that it ran out of its smallest gold items. Prices are 27 percent below the record $1,921.15 an ounce set in September 2011.

“This report leads us to conclude that Asian markets will see record quarterly totals of gold demand in the second quarter,” Marcus Grubb, managing director of investment research at the council, said in the report dated today. “Even if ETF outflows continue in the U.S., it is quite likely that the gold previously held in ETFs will find a ready market among Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern consumers who are taking a long-term view on the prospects for gold.”

Gold Lagging

Gold for immediate delivery traded at $1,384.74 in London, down 17 percent this year. It reached a two-year low of $1,321.95 on April 16. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI gauge of 24 commodities dropped 2.8 percent since the start of January and the MSCI All-Country World Index of equities rose 9.8 percent. Treasuries lost 1.1 percent, a Bank of America Corp. index shows.

Degussa Goldhandel GmbH, a precious metal trading and investment company in Frankfurt, said demand this month will be double the first-quarter average. Purchases outpaced sales by nine to one after prices began the slump in mid-April, compared with four to one in the first quarter, Wolfgang Wrzesniok-Rossbach, the chief executive officer of Degussa, said earlier this month.

Investors held a record 2,632.5 metric tons through ETPs in December, equal to almost a year of global mine production. Holdings dropped every month this year and 2013’s sales now exceed additions in the previous two years, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Lower average prices were already spurring more purchases before the slide into a bear market in April. Total gold demand fell 13 percent to the lowest in three years in the first quarter as the record ETP sales outweighed an increase in buying from China and India, the council said May 16. Retail investment and jewelry demand in both nations jumped a combined 23 percent in the quarter, according to the producer-funded organization.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Larkin in London at nlarkin1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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