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Switzerland Sent 80% of Bullion Exports to Asia in January

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Switzerland sent more than 80 percent of its gold and silver bullion and coin exports to Asia last month, the Swiss Federal Customs Administration said today in an e-mailed report. It imported most from the U.K.

Hong Kong was the top destination at 44 percent on a value basis, with India at 14 percent, the Bern-based customs agency said in its first breakdown of the gold trade data since 1980. Singapore accounted for 8.6 percent of exports, the United Arab Emirates 7.9 percent and China 6.3 percent.

Switzerland imported 4.32 billion Swiss francs ($4.87 billion) of the metals from the U.K., or 60 percent of total inbound shipments, according to the report. The U.S. was second at 4.9 percent, Italy at 3.8 percent, Germany at 2.8 percent and Thailand at 2.5 percent, the data show.

Gold slumped 28 percent last year and silver plunged 36 percent, both the biggest annual declines since 1981, as some investors lost faith in the metals as a store of value. As holdings in gold-backed funds that are mostly listed in the U.S. and Europe declined, lower prices boosted demand from Asia in a sign of bullion flowing from the west to east. China overtook India as the largest gold buyer last year, the London-based World Gold Council said in a report this week.

Gold for immediate delivery in London rose 8.9 percent this year to $1,313.32 an ounce and silver advanced 11 percent to $21.56 an ounce.

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

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