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China’s Gold Shipments From Hong Kong Decline as Demand Weakens

China’s gold imports from Hong Kong fell in January as jewelers and fabricators in the world’s largest consumer of the precious metal reduced purchases on expectation demand may weaken after Lunar New Year holidays.

Net imports totaled 83.6 metric tons last month, compared with 91.9 tons in December and 19.6 tons a year earlier, according to calculations by Bloomberg News based on data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department today. Exports to Hong Kong from China declined to 19 tons in January from 34.8 tons in December, the Statistics Department said in a separate statement. Mainland China doesn’t publish such data.

China became the world’s largest gold user last year, consuming a record 1,066 tons, as the steepest price drop since 1981 spurred a 32 percent jump in bars, coins and jewelry demand, the World Gold Council said last week. Rising physical demand from Asia helped cash bullion prices rebound 13 percent from a six-month low of $1,182.52 an ounce on Dec. 31.

“Fabricators tapered their raw material purchases in anticipation of slower physical demand after the Lunar New Year,” said Bruce Liu, a gold trader at ANZ Bank China Co. “But the level remained well above the same period last year, befitting China’s new status as the world’s largest gold consumer.”

Bullion for immediate delivery in London fell 0.3 percent to $1,334.23 an ounce at 7:39 p.m. Beijing time. The metal gained 11 percent this year. Bullion of 99.99 percent purity on the Shanghai Gold Exchange advanced 4 percent in January, posting the first monthly gain in five months. China’s Lunar New Year holiday this year started Jan. 31 and ran through Feb. 6.

Mainland Chinese buyers purchased a total of 102.6 tons in January, including scrap, compared with 126.6 tons a month earlier and 51.3 tons a year earlier, data from the Hong Kong government showed.

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