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Gold Imports by India Climb on Jewelry for Weddings, Festivals

Gold purchases by India, the world’s largest bullion buyer, surged 62 percent in the fourth quarter on expectations of higher import duties and on demand for weddings and festivals, according to the World Gold Council.

Imports climbed to 255 metric tons in the three months through Dec. 31 from 157 tons a year earlier and 223 tons in the previous quarter, the producer-funded group said in a report today. Still, overseas purchases dropped 11 percent to 860 tons last year from 969 tons in 2011, it said.

India tripled tax on gold imports in the past year, with the levy rising to 6 percent on Jan. 21 as the government sought to counter a current-account deficit. About 80 percent of the shortfall is due to gold imports, the central bank says.

Gold use climbed to 261.9 tons in the three months ended Dec. 31 from 185.5 tons a year earlier, the group said. Demand for jewelry rose 35 percent to 153 tons, while investment in coins and bars jumped 51 percent to 108.9 tons, it said.

Total supplies including recycled metal fell to 987 tons last year from 1,039 tons in 2011, it said.

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